|Tickle Tackle - Referee Man blues|
Thu 23rd Oct 2008 21:46 by Steve Tickle
It seems like the back pages and sporting headlines are all too often talking about controversial refereeing decisions these days. Has it always been that way or have refereeing standards really worsened in recent years?
I suppose referees and linesmen have always borne the brunt of fans' ire since they were first introduced into the game but it seems that their errors and extravagances are even more in the spotlight these days than they ever were - few weekends pass without there seems to be some major discussion about referees' decisions and those of their linesmen.
Well let's get a few things straight first of all shall we? First of all, they have a difficult job not made any easier by the actions and reactions of far too many players who really should know better. Secondly, with most top games having at least half a dozen TV cameras dotted around the stadium, any errors they make tend to get seized upon by a media industry eager for sensation and controversy. Thirdly, most officials do a pretty decent job most of the time. However, it's the way of the world that the excellent decisions they make tend not to make the headlines whereas their mistakes do.
Nevertheless, I personally think that there are a number of referees who've risen to the top of their profession but who I wouldn't want to take charge of my daughters' games - let's not name names but I bet we could all agree on who they are. In my opinion, one of the things that links these refs is poor communications skills. The worst ones brandish their red and yellow cards at offending players like the cards themselves were a form of admonishment, rather than what they really are, simply a means of communicating that a player has been cautioned or sent off - all too often, the actual caution never actually takes place.
Some linesmen seem to struggle with offside decisions. I can think of several occasions over the last few days when goals have either been incorrectly given or disallowed purely because the linesmen haven't been in line with play and have made no allowance for the parallax error that results - I was certainly taught about at school. Are they not aware of this effect or are they told to disregard it by refereeing coaches? If it's the latter, how can they ever be sure they're giving a correct decision if they're not bang in line?
Personally, I put all of this down to bad coaching and bad selection and promotion by the refereeing authorities. An example of this was a radio interview I heard recently with one of their leading lights. He was celebrating the fact that there had been an increase in the numbers of teenagers taking up refereeing. This in itself is excellent news of course but he then went on to say that to many of those youngsters, the attraction was that of being in a position of authority.
Well I'm sorry but if that's a true example of the selection criteria then those responsible for it should resign their positions immediately. The last thing football needs is an influx of frustrated little dictators into the refereeing system. Anyone wanting to be a referee for that reason should be fitered out of the system at the earliest stage possible.
What football does need is good communicators who are given clear, consistent and responsible direction from those at the top.
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