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Victory Through Harmony
This is the third article in referee Walter Broeckx series about the reasons behind the extraordinarily poor state of refereeing in the Premier League as revealed in his regular post-match analysis of the number of decisions right, wrong and missed in each Arsenal game. The previous articles are below and there’s a link to the complete Corruption Index at the end. Each article contains two key points from Walter’s thesis – today we reach points five and six.
by Walter Broeckx
In my series about the why the refs in the EPL seem to get a poor score I wander further down the road to reveal the problems that can have an impact on the refs. In the article today I am going deeper in the ref as a person. I’m looking at his way of thinking, his life and his childhood.
5. Childhood love
Didn’t we all have a certain idol when we were kids? Didn’t most of us wanted to be the new Tony Adams, Ian Wright, or whatever player you have adored when being young? And did you go out on the football field imagining being that player playing on Wembley, winning the cup final and scoring the final goal? Only then to wake up out of your dreams and find yourself on a bumpy pitch in a park with no spectators and some bunch of other kids, dreaming the same kind of dreams. Well, if you haven’t had that dream: you missed something.
I think most people will understand this dream and we mustn’t forget that this may well also have once been the dream of our refs. I think no ref will have had no interest in football whatsoever as a kid, and then woken up on the morning of his 18th birthday and decided: “I am going to become a football referee.”
No most refs have gone the way of dreaming of becoming a footballer, then hoping and then realising that the will is there but the talent is missing. So what do you then do when you have been dreaming of doing a cup final and you find you are not good enough to do it as a player? The only way to get to Wembley then is…. to become a ref.
But as a result of dreaming of becoming the new Brady, Beckham, Giggs, Gerrard or who ever you can think of, most of us became not only fans of the player but we also supported the team. I admit I fell in love with Liam Brady when I was for the first time at Highbury. His magic put a spell on me and so it was obvious I not only supported him, but I also started supporting Arsenal.
The same thing happened to all our refs at one point in their live. Even if they only went to see their local team playing in the conference league they still will have a player and/or a team as their ultimate role model.
And puppy love may go but it still stays in the back of your mind. So when you become a ref and you go higher and higher and higher and suddenly you find yourself in that stadium of that team you supported in your childhood. Your puppy love team shaking your hands. Tell me who would stay 100% cool? Who could be able to say: oh this is team A and this is team B and good luck guys. Would you? Could you? Ask yourself that question and try to answer that. And if you really believe that you could do this I would beg you to go to the nearest local football organisation, get the course and start your ref career today.
But most people reading this will admit that they would not be able to do an Arsenal game without bias. I think I also couldn’t do this. Maybe I would over compensate myself to prevent my bias showing somewhat and by doing this I could end up with screwing my decisions. So even without me wanting to be biased I could become biased because of trying to hide my bias, if you understand what I mean. My children will understand what I mean as I was not their lucky talisman when I had do to a game involving them when the ref didn’t show up.
But what can you do about this? The answer is simple. Every ref should at the start of his career fill in a form on which he gives 3 teams he supports or likes and 3 teams which he hates or dislikes. And then the FA puts this all in a big computer file and puts this on the internet where it is for all to see. Because it is not only vital to know which team you support but also important to know which team you don’t like.
Imagine a kid being a Tottenham supporter. And if he said he likes Tottenham he will have no games involving them. But being a Tottenham supporter usually means that you don’t like Arsenal. So this kid becoming a man will not do Tottenham games but even if he hates Arsenal he will be able to do Arsenal games. And then you have the same problem as with the puppy love thing. The puppy hate thing could lead to a ref doing things against a team without people knowing why.
And to make it waterproof it should be made clear that the evidence shows that it turns out that you have lied on your likes/dislikes to the FA you will be expelled from refereeing at once and banned for life. There is no place for dishonesty when it comes to refs.
Being a ref is based on honesty, so out with anyone who is not honest.
6. Underdog effect
Now we are more entering a level which is very dependant on the person himself. And about being professional.
As a ref you just have to see how things develop and let it happen. I don’t mean that you should let all things happen. It is obvious I’m not talking about letting fouls go by without doing anything.
No I mean that if you are in a game where one team is better than the other and is winning by a big margin there is nothing you can or may do about it. This is the work of the manager or the players to try to play better. But never as a ref should you let thoughts slip in your mind as: “oh my god they are losing 8-0 lets just give them something”.
Even that thought entering your mind is already too much. Let alone doing it! The day I give a penalty to a team that is facing a heavy defeat just because I feel sympathy for them should be the last game I do as a ref.
However sorry you might feel for that team you cannot let your feelings take over.
The problem with this behaviour is that his is just about invisible. And the team having a big lead will not make any fuss about your stupid decision, but still this can lead you as a ref in to all kinds of trouble.
Yet it happens. I have heard it a few times when refs talk about their games and say that they gave a penalty to a team just to give them some consolation.
Well a ref is not out there to give consolation. Never. You are there to see if the rules are respected. You are there to protect the players. Never give consolation. But it happens as I have heard it many times.
A part of human nature is feeling sorry for the underdog but as a ref you cannot feel sorry for anyone. And the moment you do this, you are lost. It is a slope that will bring you down one day. So never even think of it.
For this behaviour there is no real solution in fact. This is down to the ref personally. If it comes to Arsenal games I have a feeling that this could apply to ref Dowd. Or play a part in his odd decisions at time.
If you think over other reasons, be patient. There is more to come. More reasons and more solutions.