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By Walter Broeckx
Having spent a lot of time on writing my articles about the problems that are real and existing in the world of refereeing I would like to talk a bit about the excuse that is generally given to explain this problem.
It comes with a throw-away line, a line said so often that these days it passes without people noticing. A phrase that is so commonplace that we come to believe it because we hear it so often.
The phrase is: “All team suffer from the bad decisions and it evens out at the end of the season, it is just that the refs are incompetent. “
The first part of the sentence is just an assumption. As far as I know no one except me is trying to see if, by the end of the season this really has evened out. So we will all have to wait another few months to see if this is true or not.
But the second part about the refs being incompetent is something I could say a few things about.
Because this is the difference between saying on the one hand, “refs are bent” and on the other, “refs are incompetent.” About the notion of the refs being bent I have had my say. So let me try to investigate if the refs are competent or not.
Would I be a great Formula 1 driver? If you would put me in such a car do you think I would win a race? Well I sure know I would simply be happy to stay alive and get out of the car. I am incompetent to drive a race car.
Would I get a Michelin star if I would open a restaurant and be the master chef? Well I know I wouldn’t kill the people coming over to dinner but I also know that I will not get a Michelin star. I can cook but I am not competent enough to say that I am a real master chef.
Of course any F1 driver has years of practice and climbing up through the ranks. From carting to formula whatever number it is, they work their way up, and so the driver climbs the ladder until he reaches the top.
Would a person like me have a chance to reach the top? No I don’t have the required skills and talents needed to get to the top. I can drive and after driving some 30 years now never had a speeding ticket or had an accident so I can say that I am good driver and a safe driver. But I never will be able to drive in a F1 race.
The same goes for a master chef. They also mostly start at the bottom in their kitchen doing dish washing and then climb the ladder to become chef over the various stations you have to do before becoming a real cook and master chef.
Well the same goes for refereeing. No ref who would get his license to ref today will get a game in the EPL this weekend. I think this is rather understandable.
I don’t know how the system works in England but I do think (and hope!) that it will be a bit the same like in Belgium. Over here you have to start at the bottom of the ladder by doing youth games and then you are assessed every now and then and when you have a few good games in a row you can go higher. And then again they look at your performances and if okay for a number of games you go higher again. And so it continues.
I think that before a ref ends up in the Jupiler League in Belgium he will have had something between 100 and 150 games in which he was assessed. Meaning 100-150 games in which he should have got a score around 90%. An excellent score. Because if not excellent you will not go up and you have to stay at your level.
So let us presume that the situation in the EPL is about the same. Let us presume that every ref in the EPL has had 150 games in which an assessor has said to the FA: This ref has done an excellent job and I give him 90%. You can promote him.
Again I compare to the situation in Belgium where a ref is assessed by as many people as possible – it is certainly not the case that you always have the same assessor for the same ref. So let us presume once again that in your career before you go to the EPL (or Jupiler league in Belgium) some 50 different people have watched you and given you the highest score.
One person can be blind to your errors, another one can be a good friend of your father, another one can be a good friend of a friend of your father. But it speaks for itself that those 50 assessors not all have been blind or have been good friends of you. A few could have been biased in your favour. But not all of those 50 will have been of that kind.
But even if 10 of those 50 would have been a bit kind for you this still would mean that 40 others have seen a good ref, no I correct myself: seen an excellent ref in you.
This just to show you that it is not that easy go up in the ranks as a ref. And maybe one can be given a helping hand by some family relations but not all of them I would say (and think and hope).
So to end up in the EPL you must have been a competent ref along the long road to the EPL.
So excuse me but saying about a poor performance of a ref: “he is not competent” is not a very sensible argument in my eyes.
Unless of course you are arguing that every assessor and every ref is not competent. If you think both assessors and refs are not capable of doing their job, then you could be right by saying: the refs are not competent.
I know how difficult the road to the top is, so forgive me for not buying this “not competent” argument. There must be another explanation for poor refereeing.