I’ve said this many times before, but I’m going to say it again.
I don’t criticise referees for what they do, but rather for what they are not doing – and some are not doing their job according to the laws of the game. There could be many reasons for this, so I’m reluctant to go into it too deeply.
Suffice it to say that I witnessed two particular incidents in two different games this week when the match officials – and I include the assistant referees – were not doing their job.
The first was in a Championship game in England. Now the Championship, for those who don’t know, is the second tier of English football, just below the exalted Premier League.
So, getting back to the first game. A corner kick was awarded to Preston North End, who were playing West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
In the past it was always the case that the ball had to be on, or inside, the corner arc.
Nowadays, as long as the circumference of the ball is in line with the corner arc, it’s legal. I’m not sure when the rule was changed, or perhaps its governing body, the Football Association, changed it, but that’s a debate for later.
In this instance, the ball was clearly outside the corner arc.
Many people have since contacted me to say it wasn’t a corner kick but a free kick. I’ve watched the video over and over again, and the caption on top of the video clearly says it was a corner kick.
Who is not doing their job? As referees, we were always told to run from one corner flag to the other diagonally, with the assistant referees covering the other sides. So, in this instance, it was the referee’s area to cover and he clearly didn’t, which allowed a player to do what he did.
The implication of this is that anything that happens after this kick is taken is illegal because the corner kick was not taken correctly in terms of Law 13: Free kicks.
The second instance occurred in a game between Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday. A free kick was awarded to Brighton on the edge of the Arsenal penalty area, which meant that the Gunners’ defensive wall was well within their own penalty area.
You know the procedure by now, I’m sure – the defending team’s players have to move back 10 yards in old money. The attacking players got in among the defenders, which is now illegal. This used to be the case, but no longer is as it caused consternation with pushing and shoving, thereby creating unsavoury situations.
The International Football Association Board decided that these shenanigans were unacceptable, so it brought in a change stating that, when there are more than three defending players in a “wall”, the attacking players must be at least 1m from that defensive wall.
Here’s the actual wording from the International Football Association Board directive: “When there is a defensive ‘wall’ of at least three players, all attacking team players must be at least 1m from the ‘wall’; indirect free kick if they encroach.”
The photo clearly shows that is not the case and the referee was not doing his job in this instance. He did not, at any time, tell the attacking players that they were breaking the law. He allowed play to continue.
It’s no wonder the standard of refereeing is declining as some match officials can’t, or won’t, do their job properly. If that’s the case, they should be told by their superiors that they’ll be demoted. All any team or club wants is consistency, and it’s certainly not happening in England.
Please feel free to make comments or ask questions.
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