I guess it’s not surprising, although never acceptable, that our referees come under attack at this point in the season. We seem to be the whipping boys for managers and coaches who feel hard done by when decisions go against their teams.
And it’s all the more relevant when that particular team is struggling at the bottom of its league, hoping to avoid relegation or hoping to win promotion to the next league up.
And it’s not only in football(or soccer, as the Americans like to call it) – it happens in other sporting codes as well, although less so in rugby.
You’ll get the usual coach pacing up and down the touch line sometimes talking to himself, trying to get his team motivated to press on and try to score another goal.
The worried look, the frustration etched all over his face, wishing he could go on to the field and do what he wanted his players to do.
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But I think we’ve reached a new low when a coach asks that a referee be banned because his team was denied a penalty kick.
Wayne Rooney is the individual concerned.
The former Everton, Manchester United and England forward, who is now the boss at English second-tier league club Derby County, was left fuming when a referee did not award his team a penalty in an away game they lost 2-1 to Swansea.
They’d already had one successful spot kick awarded, but he wanted another.
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Remember, Derby County’s hopes of avoiding the drop to League 1 are hanging on by a thread after having 21 deducted points at the start of the season for going under administration and for “historical financial breaches”.
The defeat put them on the back foot and created an enormous challenge for the young manager.
I think it’s a new low for Rooney to ask that the referee be banned because he didn’t get what was, in his opinion, a penalty kick.
The questions to be asked are:
- Does Rooney think the referee was against his team?
- Does he fully understand the laws of the game?
- Why would a referee deliberately not award a penalty if it was deserved?
Most games today are televised and referees are scrutinised to ensure that they are applying the laws of the game to the letter, with a little room for discretion, of course.
Most referees are in the game of officiating for the love of it and most want to be promoted to the next level and eventually make it on to the Fifa international referees panel. Why would this particular referee jeopardise his chances by not giving a team what it was entitled to?
It beggars belief that a referee would do such a thing.
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It’s important to remember that law 5 states that “decisions will be made to the best of the referee’s ability according to the laws of the game ... and will be based on the opinion of the referee”.
Therefore, the referee is making a judgement call based on what they or their assistants see.
I know there have been one or two despicable cases where referees have been bribed and have taken money to influence a result. One only has to remember the infamous World Cup qualifier between Bafana Bafana and Senegal, which resulted in Ghanian referee Joseph Lamptey being banned for life for influencing the result.
Yes, sadly, it does happen, but not too often, thankfully.
Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
. Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol