Inconsistency is a big problem among match officials

Errol Sweeney (Supplied)
Errol Sweeney (Supplied)

Johannesburg - I hear it time and again, and more times than I care to mention, from managers, players, and the electronic and print media. Hardly a game goes by, let alone a day or week, without the “R I” words coming to the fore.

What am I talking about? Referee inconsistency.

To ensure I am not putting myself up to be “shot at”, I want to make it abundantly clear: I do not criticise referees for what they are doing, but rather for what they are not doing.

I have been targeted in the past by former and current colleagues.

I have been accused of betraying the refereeing fraternity. I have been accused of giving in to populist beliefs to gain more readers.

I have even been accused of “selling out” the men and women in black, in the interests of expediency.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I was, and always will be, a referee at heart.

I have given more that 40 years of my life, and at great sacrifice to my family in some instances, to the cause, and will continue to do so until the good Lord calls me home.

In recent times I have been involved in coaching and mentoring referees and assistant referees up to and including World Cup level. That is my passion.

I get enormous pleasure and satisfaction from seeing match officials perform to their best while applying the Fifa laws of the game. That is what they are supposed to do. That is what they are trained for. That is what they are paid to do.

Inconsistency is not a new issue. It’s been going on for some time, and it is blatant.

I know there will be those who will say the ref was unsighted, or was in the wrong position, or was watching something else at the time. That’s not good enough. He has assistants to help him and they are “wired up” with ear pieces and electronic flags.

There are also cameras, and as many as 30, yes I said 30, at most big games.

There is a camera for every individual on the pitch, including the match officials, so nothing should escape the refs, particularly now that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has been implemented.

I know the VAR is not being used for all matches, but that is only a matter of time.

In the course of a game, the match officials have only one chance to get it right at normal speed when the VAR is not in use. I understand that. I also subscribe to the notion that your gut feeling at the time of the incident is generally the correct one.

However, it’s the very obvious breaches of the laws that are the most worrying. I have to admit that it would appear that some middlemen are falling short in that category.

Let me say the women in black appear to have more courage than their male colleagues when it comes to calling what appears to some to be tough decisions.

It also has to be said that the women players appear to be more honest than the men when it comes to chicanery and shenanigans.

Sometimes it seems the men will push the boundaries right over the edge when cheating and lying are required to gain an advantage.

That’s where we (refs) come in.

It is our job to police these situations without fear or favour to any one team or player. It is our job to make decisions that are not only just and right, but also in accordance with the laws of the game.

If we do this, we will gain the respect of all concerned.

It’s time we match officials man up. It’s time we start showing some courage.

It’s time we do the job we are paid for, and to hell with the consequences. That’s the only way to get consistency.

Happy whistling.

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol

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