There’s no doubt that referees – in fact, match officials in general – have been under the cosh in recent seasons regarding their performance, or lack thereof. Some of it justified, some not.
Officiating is not an easy job at the best of times and, as humans, we all make mistakes. However, there are mistakes and then there are mistakes.
To the uneducated in terms of refereeing, it seems like the referee and/or their assistant appear to be favouring one side or the other.
In the vast majority of cases, these guys are doing a difficult job, sometimes under trying circumstances. I say guys because this doesn’t appear to be happening with women, who seem to sail through their games with little or no incidents. So, well done to them.
Mistakes happen when there is a lack of training or proper instruction, which can be for any number of reasons that I don’t intend to go into in this column.
Suffice it to say that it is the responsibility of the mother body – the relevant national association that has jurisdiction over match officials – to ensure that the proper materials, instructions and instructors are in place to see that referees and their assistants are recruited, retained and then trained to the highest possible standards to meet the needs of the leagues in which they have been appointed to officiate.
If you don’t send your child to school, how do you expect him or her to be able to read and write? Unless, of course, you are home schooling, but that’s a debate for another day.
I say all of this because, as the new English Premier League season got under way, I was hugely impressed with the way in which the referees handled their games, particularly Anthony Taylor in the Tottenham Hotspur versus Manchester City game last Sunday.
I heard rumours that, in their recent seminars and meetings, the referees were determined to stamp out the absolute nonsense of past seasons when, in my opinion, the game had begun to sink to deplorable levels of cheating and diving, which was sucking the lifeblood out of it.
Speaking to many die-hard football fans in recent times, it was clear that the frustration that was building up had to be addressed for the future success and growth of the beautiful game.
Hardly minutes would go by without some or other shenanigans happening and the referee would need to blow their whistle.
It bears repeating that, according to law 5 of the Fifa laws of the game, the referee on the day has the final say. Final say means exactly that – the referee has the power to either allow or not allow the silly, frustrating and most annoying carrying-on by players.
It also has to be said that the same referees have previously failed dismally in this aspect of the game.
But last weekend was a breath of fresh air and it’s amazing how quickly the players – the same divers and cheaters – got used to the fact that their acting of the past was not going to be tolerated any more.
Well done referees!
There’s an old English expression: “Begin as you mean to continue.” So, keep up the good work.
Please stay safe and well out there. The Covid-19 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.
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