Hanging Judge | New IFAB members are trying to justify their lofty positions

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There have been many changes to the laws of the game in recent years. Some good, and some not so good. Photo: iStock/Gallo Images
There have been many changes to the laws of the game in recent years. Some good, and some not so good. Photo: iStock/Gallo Images


Time for a rant.

There have been many changes to the laws of the game in recent years. Some good, and some not so good, in my opinion.

I say “in my opinion” because it seems like I’m either old fashioned and getting left behind, or the “new kids on the block” at the International Football Association Board (IFAB) are trying to justify their lofty positions with all these changes.

Now, I don’t want to sound like an old fogie by reminiscing of times past, and I do understand that time moves on. However, the changes, which are supposed to bring clarity to the refs’ decision-making, appear to be causing more problems than before. More trouble than they are worth, in some instances.

Yes, we do want decisions that comply with the laws of the game; justice to not only be done, but be seen to be done; and the team that deserves to win, to do so legally – fair and square.

One of the main problems that I see is the fact that law 5 clearly says the referee’s decision is final.

It’s there in black and white. Even with the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR), the referee in charge has the final say.

It can be argued that some of the refs are using the VAR as a prop to get them out of a hole when difficult decisions need to be made.

I’ve heard that mentioned many times, and, to the uninitiated, it would seem that way, I must confess.

What did we do before the VAR? What did we do before goal line technology? We had to make those crucial decisions. In fact, where neither of those technological devices are available, match officials are still having to do their job.

We had to step up, have a bit of backbone, grow a pair and get on with it. There was less back-chatting, although that will always happen anyway. But, for the most part, games were pretty uneventful.

READ: Hanging Judge | Change is not always for the best

I also remember having to referee many games without the help of two assistant referees, or linesmen, as they used to be called.

We just got on with it and the teams accepted the decisions, whether they were for them or against.

My main beef is that, at the highest level of football, the referees are hiding behind the VAR and their assistant refs; scared, it would appear, to make a decision, probably thinking of the repercussions – the backlash from the players who have been penalised, from the coaching staff and, of course, from the fans of that team.

I would certainly hope that it’s not the case. I would hope that they would have the courage of their convictions and do what needs to be done without fear or favour to any player, team or group of fans. That’s what they get paid for.

It certainly doesn’t appear that way sometimes. High-profile players of the so called big teams are getting away with more than they are entitled to.

I call this refereeing cowardice and, if the match officials are scared of the outcome from their decision(s), then it’s time they hung up their whistle and let others who won’t be afraid take charge.

What’s equally as bad and irritating is to hear pundits making excuses for some match officials.

These are former referees themselves and their attempt to justify the wrongdoing of their ex-colleagues leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve said many times in the past and, at the risk of being boring, or repetitive, I’ll say it again: I never criticise referees for what they are doing. I criticise them for what they are NOT doing, and some are NOT doing their job. Rant over.

READ: Hanging Judge | Is the VAR in conflict with the laws of the game?

Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all the medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Happy whistling!


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