By Walter Broeckx
In this part of the series on what could cause poor refereeing in the EPL, I want to talk about a very personal subject of the ref. His inner thoughts and how it could affect them.
As well as some hard-to-discover issues happen in all countries and why should the EPL be free of them.
7. Personal dislikes
In my first season the last game of the season was a big one. Two teams divided by 2 points. The winner was the champion in their league.
A few days before this game I talked with another ref who had refereed one of the teams in the weeks before. And he warned about a player of one of the teams. The left back. A young bald player who looked mean. When I first saw him I was thinking of the words of the other ref and I thought: “I will be watching you”.
But I never had any problem with him during the whole game. I then learned that day never to trust another person’s opinion on a player without giving him a chance myself.
But is a fact that refs talk about the players they have . So I can imagine on a training of the refs they will talk about player A or player B. And they will give their personal views. This could have an influence on other refs. I learned not to listen to remarks of this kind. But it can have an effect.
Here’s another personal dislike which can be more controversial. I have read somewhere that some players with a different skin seem to get more yellow and red cards from some refs. Is it a coincidence that Dowd seem to book a lot of coloured players from Arsenal and has dismissed two of them this season?
Is it a coincidence that Dowd gave the coloured Diaby a red card for giving a push against the head of Barton and is it a coincidence that Dowd only gave a yellow for the white coloured Barton for grabbing Szczesny by his head?
It is important to recognise that we are not making any allegations of racial bias against this ref – rather this is just an example of what can happen to some refs in some leagues. It could of course be that he based his card on personal liking or disliking one of the two. It could be he just made a mistake. It could well be that Dowd dislikes players who are smaller than he, or who are taller or something else. It could be that he is not a very good referee.
This disliking is something that cannot be seen unless you bring in a statistical analysis to see if there is anything wrong. We need to look at how many red haired players are in the EPL and if they are sent off as much as the brown haired players. Too much work for one person I’m afraid but the Premier League has the facilities to undertake such an analysis. It may seem trivial but it could reveal something quite alarming.
Now let us move on to the gambling. In almost any country in the world there have been on occasions gambling incidents. Belgium, Holland, Germany, a lot of Eastern European countries, the list is long the list goes on.
And also in England there has been some cases in which players have been accused of doing such things (although not as far as I know referees). Indeed a significant part of Arsenal’s promotion in 1919 came because of the match fixing scandal involving Manchester United and Liverpool.
There have however been many match fixing cases in England which have been proved, most notably the Sheffield Wednesday scandal of 1964 which resulted in imprisonments, and the Bruce Grobbelaar case in which the Sun accused the keeper of match fixing, he was cleared in court, sued the Sun and then on appeal was said by the judge to have “acted in a way in which no decent or honest footballer would act and in a way which could, if not exposed and stamped on, undermine the integrity of a game which earns the loyalty and support of millions.”
And we all know that ref Dean has been involved in 2005 with Arbitros, a company that tells gamblers how to increase their chances of winning. I know of a Fifa ref in Holland that has been named but no evidence once again could be find. We all should now about Germany where a ref admitted being guilty of working in favour of a gambling syndicate.
Around the world of football there is a strong link to gambling syndicates. We have betting companies who sponsor teams. The world of betting and football is very strongly linked with each other. Indeed Bruce Grobbelar has recently done adverts for Paddy Power. It is something I don’t really like.
But in some countries refs have pleaded guilty for having fixed games. So it is possible. But it is hard to prove. It takes all kind of big and undercover police work to discover such things. Or you need a betting company that feels that they have been cheated by some illegal organisation to inform the police to investigate something.
But even then it needs people to break the silence. And it can be dangerous to do this. A few former players in Belgium who have been involved with those gambling syndicates can confirm this.
Does it exist in the EPL? I can’t prove it. But I will not be surprised if someday someone comes out in the open and tells us that he has done it or has been the victim of someone else doing it.
The solution? What can you do other than give people who have done it a lifelong ban and keep them away from football?
Bribing exists. Players get bribed and refs get bribed. I know. It has happened since the beginning of time. Some easy earned money is very attractive for some people. The brown bag thing.
It happens at all levels and in all countries. It doesn’t happen much that it gets found out. Because not many people will talk about it. But you would be amazed what a drunken club president could tell you. How he not just bribed the keeper of the other team but also got the ref in his pocket.
I don’t drink so I don’t forget the stories I have heard. Even when they are told late in the evening. You would be amazed how some people feel bad about it so they have to share it with someone. Or the former ref who admitted to have been bribed to give a team promotion in the last game of the season. He gave them a penalty in the last minutes and then stopped the game saying time was up.
A problem is that once you have done it you know it is wrong but you will do it again as you didn’t get caught the first time so you might think: why not risk it again.
So I know it exists and that also refs are not immune to those things. But just like with the gambling thing: without people admitting it, nothing can be found.
So a lifelong ban for persons who have done is the one solution. But also if the refs would be paid a lot of money for doing their job as a ref this would mean that they could lose a lot of money if they do this.
If you haven’t found your reason yet as to why refereeing in the Premier League is so bad, don’t worry. Maybe it will come in the next article. So still more things to come on this in the next days.