Hanging Judge: Culture of weak refereeing is fostering player anarchy

I am absolutely perplexed, annoyed and disheartened while watching soccer games these days.

Why? Well, it’s all to do with the state of match officiating and the way some referees are allowing themselves to be pushed, shoved, shouted at and belittled, and, in some instances, physically assaulted by certain players.

It’s happening on a regular basis and it seems to transcend the entire football fraternity, except in women’s soccer.

No longer is it confined to certain countries that would have fanatical support where, perhaps, one would expect it, although not condone it.

Fifa has taken steps to try to eliminate it as far as it can, but it’s still prevalent today.

They brought in goal-line technology as a means to ensure that the whole of the ball had crossed the line. They gave referees a wristwatch-like gadget that told the referee whether the ball had or had not crossed the line. Everyone accepted this, possibly because a decision was made within seconds.


Then along came the dreaded video assistant referee (VAR) system, and now all hell is breaking loose because, at the end of the day, one team or the other is going to be disappointed.

Possibly one of the problems is the length of time it’s taking to arrive at a decision. Inaction can cause dissent. That does not excuse the behaviour of certain teams and their players.

They are instructed to stay away from the referee while the review is going on. Is this happening? Definitely not. Every attempt is made by both sets of players to try to get the referee to favour them.

Ultimately, the man or woman in the middle will have the final say under Law 5 of the Fifa laws of the game. Hence the pressure that the players try to put the ref under.

Don’t forget, there are only four occasions when the ref can refer to the VAR:

. Goal/no goal

. Penalty kick/no penalty kick

. Direct red card (not second yellow card)

. Mistaken identity (red or yellow card).

Recently, in a Uefa Champions League game between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, Real’s goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was adjudged to have handled the ball outside his penalty area, thereby committing a Dogso (denying obvious goal-scoring opportunity). The referee immediately issued a red card. However, on advice from the VAR, the decision was reversed, and rightly so. So you can see the problems it can cause. There was consternation on the field and the game was held up for several minutes.

The answer, in my opinion, is that referees have to be stronger when confronted by rowdy players. They have the cards – why don’t they use them? I’ll tell you why – they are afraid of the repercussions. Clubs have too much power these days and they are taking full advantage of it.

I again call for an independent refereeing body that would be separate from all influences, similar to the judiciary in any country. Will it happen? Don’t hold your breath.

Can a player be sent off while not on the field of play?

I was asked this question recently and my reply was greeted with some scepticism. I’m going to give you the actual wording from the book:

“If a player standing on or off the field of play throws an object (including the ball) at an opposing player, substitute, substituted or sent-off player, team official, match official or the ball, play is restarted with a direct free kick from the position where the object struck or would have struck the person or the ball. If this position is off the field of play, the free kick is taken on the nearest point on the boundary line; a penalty kick is awarded if this is within the offender’s penalty area.”

Please feel free to make comments or ask questions.

Happy whistling!

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol


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