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Ignoring the ignoble, excusing the inexcusable, defending the indefensible

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By Domhuaille

I have been a Football fanatic since I first discovered the joys of the beautiful game in High School. At that time, the biggest sports, where I lived, did not include the world’s most most popular game. However many ¨foreigners¨ played, and it was identified with the expatriate community’s desire to keep their old-country roots alive. My increasing exposure to the beautiful game’s intricacies, subtleties and addictive power added to my steadily expanding passion for the sport and culminated in my taking up officiating (my less than sterling football skills, or lack thereof were also a factor).

In that time of naive innocence and blind infatuation with all things Football, I mistakenly assumed that the passion, caring and fanaticism I saw mirrored in other fans of the worldwide game were as noble as mine were.
That passion and fanaticism is a double-edged sword. Today, after a long and rewarding career as a coach, manager, player, administrator and finally official, it has become more and more apparent that the game I love and cherish is in serious trouble. The litany of the beautiful game’s flaws is herculean;

*FIFA and EUFA, once renowned and esteemed as the protectors and defenders of this sacred trust, have proven themselves to be corrupted, banal and insensitive to the Games pressing failings and their member nations needs and wishes, all the while boldly denying anything is wrong.

*Players who once proudly and loyally wore the jersey of their nation and/or club have allowed their greed, avarice and egos to eclipse these values. The incessant scandals and bizarre behaviour of many so-called ¨stars¨ shames the Game and demolishes the proud role models that prior generations so effectively represented.

* Too many of my fellow Gooners, who rubbed shoulders with each other, home and away, in avid support of AFC have recently begun to turn into a baying mob, crying for the manager’s, the Board members’ and some players” heads and viciously attacking anyone who dares to question their rancour and vitriol.

*  The Bastion of credibility and equanimity that the family of referees represent is now unjustly and incessantly under siege from all sides. Almost every decision is questioned, many actions are judged and often harshly condemned in the media. Referees lives and characters are assailed, demeaned, threatened, diminished and denigrated by media hooligans and club supporters, who attribute vile motives to any calls given against their club or country.

*  The semi-annual circus that is the transfer saga distorts and mocks the true value of a footballer and his relationship to his current club. A very select number of Big Clubs determine how transfers are arranged and how much a ¨star¨ is worth, irrespective of the reality and the resources available, aided and abetted by the agents, the players, their selling clubs and the aforementioned FIFA. Barcelona. for one, have made a mockery of this entire process.

* Finally, we, as lovers of the Game, all too often shake our heads and turn our backs on this degenerating and crass monetary prostitution that is infecting the very foundations of Football worldwide. We choose to ignore the ignoble, excuse the inexcusable and defend the indefensible in the deluded conviction that its all part of the ¨game¨ and modern life.

Professional Football lost its virginity when it became ¨entertainment¨ in the North American sense of the word and those people chosen to defend its honour and integrity sold theirs for power, money and access to those who hoard it. The amateur game is safe and flourishing worldwide but the professional version is headed for a train wreck. These numerous lacunae and others need to be addressed aggressively and forthrightly if this trend is to be arrested. Capable leaders need to be found and empowered to redress the errors and failings of the Beautiful Game.

The Untold Index

The History Index

The story of the last time something odd went on.

And some recent stories..,..

Transfer Targets: no one is risk free

A closer look at Gael Clichy reveals something rather unexpected

A quick look at the fixture list

Why the pessimists are mistaken

The Cesc transfer saga, how they lied to us – part 1

The Cesc transfer saga, how the media finally shut up – part 2

42 comments to Ignoring the ignoble, excusing the inexcusable, defending the indefensible

  • Waleed

    FIRSTTTTT YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

    Anyway, I read (or saw, rather) this picture book called European Fields. The photographer has taken breathtaking photographs of amateurs players football playing in beautiful or just interesting surroundings. Somehow it made me fall in love with the game again.

    But then the first Arsenal game I saw after that, I was disgusted by what I saw. Even my beloved Arsenal made me nauseous. The bright kits and shoes, the advertising, the sponsors, the shiny, expensive stadium – everything was just, I don’t know. Just not football.
    And this lasted for weeks. Although I can now watch professional football without vomiting, I do wish I was a football fan in simpler times.

    In the book, there was an afterword by the excellent Simon Kuper. One thing he said was that today’s game has given rise to fans who aren’t fans of the game, but rather fans of the drama surrounding it. To them its about the transfers and the trophies and soundbites and not really about the game.
    And the TV networks and the FA’s will pander to this audience, but I really hope that amid all the chaos the beautiful game we love stays alive.

  • Aussie Jack

    Like all old blokes “the old days were always the best” quote.

    Unquote: If I had to pick a time in my life, as an Arsenal fan, that stands out and makes me so proud to be a Gunner (Gooner) it would have to be the 1947/48 season when Arsenal won the title. I was honoured and proud to be present at the last game of the season against Grimsby Town. To be honest I couldn`t remember the score so I looked it up, you can do the same.
    What I will say is the Gunners racked up 19 goals in the last three matches with only two scored against them. Now that was an Arsenal to be proud of.

  • nicky

    I can go back, as an Arsenal supporter, to the uneasy peace and unemployment of the middle and late 1930’s, the War years and the immediate aftermath. Throughout that period, (say) 20 years, in professional football, there was little or no advertising, transfers were at a respectable level as were wages and, most of all, the allegiance of fans to their Clubs was dedicated but not bigoted.
    As the general standard of living gradually improved, after the War, with more money about, there were drastic changes to our national game. Professional footballers became aware that they were no longer mere chattels of their employers, agents emerged to negotiate terms for players and as with wages, ticket prices rose.
    And then came the biggest revolution of all,,,,television for all with its accompanying advertising.
    The phrase “Licence to print money” was coined, adverts plastered football grounds as well as the shirts of the players. The better known footballers were invited to join in
    publicising all manner of goods and sponsors cropped up from the most unusual places.
    But in all this football mayhem, one of the most regrettable developments was the gradual emergence of a form of racism or bigotry by many of the very folk who claimed to support the game. Not so much against a player’s colour or creed but rather a blind, fanatical support for a particular Club coupled with a bigoted hatred for a rival Club or certain other Clubs.
    This, in my view was one of the biggest changes I have seen since WW2. During the War years, watching football was an important means of releasing the tension of the everyday struggles of wartime life. After the peace of 1945, it seemed to me that the hatred we had for our enemies had to be replaced by hatred for something or someone else and the recipient became the main rival Club in football.
    Whether this will ever disappear is debatable but the fact remains that the professional game, with all its faults, still attracts the good and bad in all of us.

  • nicky

    Aussie Jack
    Great minds experience alike. In February, 1948, my bride and me, on honeymoon, (Got my priorities right!) watched Arsenal demolish Burnley, the runners-up, to virtually secure the Div 1 title of the 47/48 season. They weren’t as fit as they are today but gave us all a lot of pleasure. Two seats in the front row of the East Stand at 52p each…those were the days!

  • BobbyP

    Very nice article – hopefully the point you make about referees (re-quoted below) will resonate with many of the authors/commenters on here, who are so quick to throw around terms like match-fixing and corruption at refs who make decisions against Arsenal.

    ‘The Bastion of credibility and equanimity that the family of referees represent is now unjustly and incessantly under siege from all sides. Almost every decision is questioned, many actions are judged and often harshly condemned in the media. Referees lives and characters are assailed, demeaned, threatened, diminished and denigrated by media hooligans and club supporters, who attribute vile motives to any calls given against their club or country.’

  • A Casual Observer

    “The Bastion of credibility and equanimity that the family of referees represent”

    Since when?

  • Stevie E

    @Domhuaille – this article leaves me a little cold if I’m honest, it just seems to be a bullet pointed complaint about “these days”. I’m not really sure what point you’re trying to make, but it just comes across a little holier than thou “In that time of naive innocence and blind infatuation with all things Football, I mistakenly assumed that the passion, caring and fanaticism I saw mirrored in other fans of the worldwide game were as noble as mine were”… Yes, modern football at the highest level is about money and headlines etc etc but I’m sure it’s not alone. F1 (billionaires playground) and cricket (corruption) are just two sports at the highest level which have been brought into disrepute. But if you don’t like it, just look a little further down the chain. Nobody forces you to go to the Emirates or subscribe to sky sports to watch games, go to your local playing fields on a Sunday and you will be able to see the sport you crave at no cost either financially or emotionally.

  • Naren

    Domhuaille,
    Though I share your feeling, this is not exclusive to the football, rather it is just a fair reflection of the straits our society is heading through. Football and everything else is just an extension of that.

  • zulu gooner

    great post. too many so-called gooners sounding like northern yobs now.

  • Richard B

    When it comes to being a ‘brand’ and providing ‘entertainment’ Arsenal present a strange dichotomy.
    Back in the 1930’s they virtually introduced what we now percieve as marketing to the game, leading the charge to playing under floodlights, in numbered (customised) shirts and with the fans arriving at a tube station named after the Club. And yet they were almost the last to accept perimeter advertising and once stated (via the then Chairman in a matchday programme in the Sixties) that they would never do any sort of business on a Sunday.
    Directors such as Ken Friar still speak and (I think) act from a position that they consider to be the moral high ground – something which as much as anything gives Arsenal a sense of ‘other’ and gets the goat of many other clubs and administators.
    But I love them for it and hope against hope that they will continue to be, sometimes exasperatingly, unique.

  • yomster

    Domhuaille,
    have thoroughly enjoy this article and you have captured my thoughts succinctly. Hope to read more in the future

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    A casual observer: since 1863 when the Football Association rules were written down and officials first took the whistle, that’s when. There have been deviants in the referees ranks (Germany, Italy etc,) BUT as a former international referee I can ASSURE you that, despite being fearfully underpaid and overworked (we don’t have substitutions), physically and psychologically attacked weekly, vilified in the media and by the fans, 99.999% of our fraternity and sorority honour the Laws, apply them firmly but fairly, hold no preferences or grudges, assiduously avoid the appearance of or actual involvement in corruption and nepotism, and wear the colours (modern invention) with pride and confidence.
    Show me any series of clear and indisputable occasions when an EPL or FIFA official has been proven corrupt, biased, unfair, favouring one side, etc.
    I am fed up with people saying the officials are incompetent,corrupt fools who spend their time helping one side win…usually your opponents,surprise,surprise.
    Get in the middle of the field and take the whistle…then come back and defend your rhetorical question…you’ll hang your head in shame.

  • Shard

    @Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    I agree that the majority of referees in the world are fair and dedicated to the laws of the game. I also agree that refereeing is a very difficult, and often a thankless job. But are you saying that with the malaise that has spread in the rest of football (according to your post)the institution of refereeing has somehow managed to stay above that, and is only being victimised and used as a scapegoat?

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Stevie E: I wish I could go to the Emirates each week but living in North America and listening to Skysports crapcasts is the best I can do.
    As far as finding the Football I love, every weekend and once in awhile on weekdays in our spring,summer and fall I officiate ,youth,women, old-timers and amateur games for the sheer joy of it. Yes, the experience is the Beautiful Game once again BUT I miss being in front of 60,000 fans who are hanging on your every decision and the players rocketing around a billiard table field with an intensity that frightens the best of us. As someone very rightly observed here, the Game has become the US version of ¨entertainment¨ first and a sport second. Why do you think the Barcaloonies surround the referee and put on a show, its for their fans…a sort of drama queen version of a reality show on a football pitch.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Thanks for the generally positive and objective comments on my article. I especially love the ¨old-timers¨ memories about Highbury and the atmosphere that existed at the time. I recollect my Scottish mother telling me about my grandfather going to the Old Firm derby against Celtic (he was a Rangers supporter) with a brick in one overcoat pocket and a whiskey flask in the other and depending on the outcome, he would use one or the other or both!
    When all is said and done, the issue with our fans is, in my limited experience, one of their inability to appreciate what AFC provide them, beyond trophies, because they suffer from the modern illness called ¨immediate gratification and intolerance of ambiguity syndrome.¨ Silverware,titles,trophies,glory, etc. are all fine and dandy but nerve-wracking and one touch Football is equally important. Being a club supporter and DEMANDING success or else is like assuming that because you were born, your parents are obligated to spoil you. Life isn’t that simple!

  • Anne

    @Domhuaille:

    I can definitely relate to you on the trials and tribulations of being a football fan in North America, and I think that the word “crapcast” is an excellent description of the sort of televised football news that we get over here 🙂 And while we’re on the subject, Fox Soccer Channel should officially rename itself “The Manchester United Promotion Network,” and have it done with.

    Sorry, had to vent my frustration there. I get a little tired of having to watch Arsenal in Spanish because FSC has opted to show West Ham v. Bolton instead (although the Spanish announcers are a lot better). 🙂

    As for your article in general, I found it a little bit depressing, but inspiring at the same time. It’s good to remember that, no matter how corrupt professional football gets, the one thing that they can’t do is rob us of the beautiful game entirely.

    Even with the current state of things, the football that Arsenal and Barcelona play is still beautiful, and for me, makes the game worth watching. But if that were to change, we still have amateur teams that we can go and support. In the end, they can’t ruin the sport itself. They can only drive us to stop consuming their product, which means that, while they are holding most of the cards, we still hold the final and most important one. Good article.

    Although I do have one minor quibble with your comment about the Barcelona players surrounding the ref to “put on a show.” If you watch Barcelona on a weekly basis, you’ll know that the players hardly ever surround the ref and ask for cards and fouls in the way that you’ve seen them do on some occasions.

    When you see them do that, it’s almost always because the team that they’re playing against is trying to kick them off the pitch with a lot of dirty, sneaky fouls that the ref either isn’t noticing or isn’t calling. On those occasions, they will try to put pressure on the ref to draw attention to the conduct of the opposing team. Not to “put on a show.” And it’s very rare indeed to see any of that conduct from them if their opponent is playing a clean game.

    AS

  • Anne

    @Nicky:

    It’s great to hear from someone who has experiences with football that go so far back. Your comments about football post-WWII were particularly enlightening.

  • Anne

    @Naren:

    Excellent description of what’s currently happening in football as “a fair reflection of the straits our society is heading through.” I agree with you, and have thought the same thing many times, although I’ve never mentioned it here.

    The arguments I make here about corruption, media bias, and the like, are all derived from the opinions I’ve formed following global politics closely for many years.

    The current financial corruption in football, including both the greed and the debt problems, are not unrelated to the financial crisis that we saw with the banks a couple of years back. In fact, they’re directly related. These same banks manage football finances, and thus, unsurprisingly, football clubs are afflicted by the same ailments that we see in the financial sector.

    And God knows what kind of corrupt schemes they’re running behind the scenes with your ticket money, btw. Really, the fact that the EPL carries the name of a debt-laden, taxpayer-robbing, criminal enterprise like Barclay’s tells you all you need to know.

    And that relates to another problem with modern football, which is the extent to which organized crime is encroaching on society as a whole. I’m not joking or exaggerating when I call Barclay’s a “criminal enterprise.” It’s exactly what they are. Among MANY other things, they launder drug money and blood money, and they’re so powerful that the government opts to assist them rather than protect us from them.

    When the criminals are running as unchecked as they are now, you’re going to see criminal schemes flourishing everywhere, whether it involves match-fixing in football, or genocide in South America to obtain mining rights to land.

    And the corruption in the football media is another direct parallel to media corruption in other areas. I don’t know where you stand on match-fixing in the EPL, but in my opinion, there’s really no question that the most recent Arsenal-Newcastle match was fixed.

    One of the reasons I know that it was fixed is because, through my detailed examination of politics, I am VERY familiar with different types of media cover-up campaigns, and I know how to recognize them when I see them. And the type of cover-up campaign that the media ran after the Newcastle match is the exact same type that they would (and do) run to cover up a war crime.

    In short, I agree with you that all of these things are interrelated 🙂

  • bob

    @Anne: If you’re game, would you sketch out even some of the repeating patterns of the specific media coverup that you noted after Newcastle/Arsenal? From that a model could be produced which might be repeated by media coverage after other controversial matches that occur in the next season. The comparison to the model (or “ideal type” – a la Max Weber, btw) would result in some wrinkles and refinements to the model. This would strengthen the model’s power to describe media behavior and, in turn, help identify particular writers and media outlets that engage in that behavior. In sum, starting with Newcastle/Arsenal, we’d be on our way toward building up what Stevie E and I and others were, just recently, anticipating as an Untold Media complement to Walter’s ref reviews. Walter, in turn, was going to confer with Tony, now that he’s back. In sum, Anne, I think that you’re thinking on Newcastle/Arsenal could be a nice start toward this effort. Could you cite a few signs of the media coverup for starters, and then we could think about generalizing from them as we/the season move forward?

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Sure I’d be willing to do that with regard to the Arsenal/Newcastle match, but you might have to wait a little while on it. It would take me some time to really break it down and make a persuasive case, because I don’t have any research or anything on it yet. But if you’re willing to wait, I’ll be happy to do it.

    However, I don’t know if it will be much help to you as a model for future reference. What happened there was actually kind of an anomoly, and was only necessary because the fix itself was such an epic fail. In general, when a match is fixed, it’s not supposed to be blatantly obvious to the casual viewer that anything irregular has happened at all. If the match is fixed correctly, the media coverage afterwards will just sound like it’s covering what happened in the match.

    However, in Arsenal/Newcastle, the refereeing was so blatantly biased, and so obviously calculated to produce a particular result for Newcastle, that the media went into overdrive to cover it up, and attempted to create a false narrative about how the match actually went down. But the trouble is that they tried SO hard to whitewash the role of the referee in the match that they went too far, and what they came up with didn’t even reflect what a casual viewer would have observed watching the match. For me, their coverup was so bad that it made the fix even more obvious than watching the match itself.

    So basically, everyone involved completely blew it on that match:) Unfortunately, it’s unusual to see that many mistakes at once that provide so much evidence of corruption. So, I’ll be happy to write up Arsenal/Newcastle for you when I have time, but I don’t know how much help it will be as a future reference.

    How are the Untold Media plans going in general?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Domhuaille,

    I wouldn’t dare to say that 99,999% of the refs are 100% fair in their games. My experiences are different. But maybe the problem on this side of the ocean is different than over there?

    I also definitely know how the big clubs have their influences on the refs in my country. I know this from refs who have been there and had a career in the highest divisions in Belgium. Let me tell you “calciopolo” did not just happen in Italy. That is if I can believe the persons who have told this to me and I have no reason to not believe them.

    I know from refs who had been bought by clubs to gain promotion (told to me by the ref himself when we were alone) and who said it happened more than we realize. Even I have been offered more money before a game but in a way so that he could get away with it saying it was meant as a joke. But if I would have agreed and taken the money he would have given it to me.

    And because of the way the Chinese (and others) betting syndicates have been doing their “business” in some countries… I really cannot believe that they never have approached refs until now. And then the underpayment becomes an issue.

    I could still go on for a few hours on all what is wrong in the ref world and give examples of corruption in the not so distant past. So I must say that I have a very cynical view on the referee world. Maybe too cynical and maybe I just have bad luck and only have been speaking with the wrong persons but the corruption in football is out there and the refs are just part of this world.

    Apart from that I do believe that most of the refs are fair and just want to do their job in the correct way. Most of them but not all…

  • snehal

    eah Walter, but one cannot quite forget how we also imploded spectacularly at the end. For all the good there was, there was bad in equal measure. Perhaps even more. I would actually rather we focused on what was bad and plugged those holes. We also have to be stronger mentally – there are four fronts to challenge on for honours and if we fail on one, we should be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and prime ourselves to challenge keenly on all the other fronts. We can’t keep losing our way when we hit misfortune – life’s not roses on a bed of candy floss. This is another reason to have a bigger squad with more quality – when people experience fatigue – physically or even mentally, there will be adequate cover to keep pushing on.

  • A Casual Observer

    @Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    To quote your good self:

    “That said, there is certainly a questionable tendency for EPL officials to award more penalties against AFC, and that merits a more in-depth review!” – Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    You should hang your head in shame for this mindless defending of the indefensible. Questions need to be asked and the media (as far as I can see) defend and distract from the issue of corruption in the EPL brand and do as much as they can to keep the spotlight off the officials.

    This ‘because I say so’ attitude that you have adopted is a dead end to reason… but then you are a professional referee (as you state) so therefore by that logic you cannot possibly be biased on the subject and your decision is final.

  • A Casual Observer

    “The referee can,of course, make a major difference using his power to expel a player(s),award free kicks that are close to goal, penalties to either side or allow violent and brutal play to go unpunished” – Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    I’m getting mixed messages here? A minute ago you said they were The Bastion of credibility – so which is it?

  • frodo

    WTF is wrong with Wenger!!! PAtrick Vieira one of our greatest players and captains. It should be a no brainier in regards to him landing a coaching role at the club but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO he’s on the verge of going to City as a coach. One of my main criticisms is that I feel Wenger doesn’t know tomotivate his team and neither do the other coaches. What better example of winning mentality then someone who has been present during Wenger’s successful years. This guy will just have to walk into a room and players will sit up and be in awe of him.

  • Naren

    Tony, Walter
    Are the comments not being moderated? The comment by ‘frodo’ above me is totally inconsistent with the ‘topic-related’ discussion policy here…

  • Naren

    Anne,
    I am delighted to meet people here at Untold who think beyond the usual rubbish that the media is content to feed us, though we may all not agree at all times.
    Well, I have also noticed that your comments are as long as an entire article and sometimes even longer. 🙂

  • BobbyP

    @Anne

    ‘Unfortunately, it’s unusual to see that many mistakes at once that provide so much evidence of corruption’

    What evidence are you talking about? Other than a ref having a bad game and the media not agreeing with you that this meant there was ‘no question’ the game was fixed?

    Unfortunately Dom’s comment ‘Referees lives and characters are assailed, demeaned, threatened, diminished and denigrated by media hooligans and club supporters, who attribute vile motives to any calls given against their club or country’ seems very apposite…

  • Shard

    @Bobby P

    Casual Observer got it right. Dom is saying a few inconsistent things. The whole article bemoans a lack of.. ethics, in the game today. Yet it somehow implies that in this sea of unethical behaviour, the referees, who have control over the matches and their results, remain islands of truth & honesty and are only victims of the madly baying media and fans. To me, that assertion requires a suspension of logic, or at least stretching logic to it’s absolute limits.

    I’ve said it before, but in an environment of no transparency, no accountability, inconsistent and arbitrary decisions, huge swathes of money, and a lack of proper reporting, I don’t see how things can remain clean. Whether the EPL is corrupt or not can be argued (mostly by a lack of ‘evidence’), but I absolutely will say that the EPL functions in an environment that is entirely conducive to corruption.

  • BobbyP

    @Shard

    Fair points, and there certainly is a possibility that there is some corruption involved somewhere in the EPL, and even in the refereeing department. But to claim (with ZERO evidence) that it is beyond question that a particular game was fixed seems ludicrous to me, and symptomatic of the attitude so well articulated by Dom, i.e. ‘my team didn’t win so the game must be fixed’

  • Shard

    @Bobby P

    I disagree that there was ZERO evidence. Zero courtroom evidence-possibly. But Zero evidence- no way. What is your position on that match. What actually occurred there in terms of the referee’s performance? I’ll grant you that Arsenal defend poorly if you want to bring that in, but I’m talking only of the refs performance in that match.

  • BobbyP

    @Shard

    There’s plenty of evidence that the ref’s performance was poor in that game, but no evidence of anything further. That’s what people on here seem to miss; a poor refereeing performance doesn’t mean match-fixing/corruption, any more than any of Almunia’s poor performances mean that he is on the take.

    So to reiterate, there is currently ZERO evidence of match fixing/refereeing corruption in the EPL in the public domain, including on this site.

  • Shard

    @Bobby p

    Define evidence

  • BobbyP

    Shard

    Evidence of corruption/match-fixing could include:

    – video-tape evidence of money changing hands or people agreeing to throw games for money (or other motivations)
    – documentation, including potential financial trails of payments
    – phone-recordings, as were used in the Calcipoli affair in Serie A
    – witnesses prepared to testify on the record

    Statistically significant data samples (such as is being proposed to be collected by this site) would not be evidence of corruption per se, but would certainly be a pointer that something untoward is taking place.

    As mentioned, why do you think a single referee’s poor performance means unquestionable corruption, as compared to a single poor performance from a player (or tactical error from a manager)?

  • bob

    @Anne: My point on the media coverage of Arsenal/Newcastle is that those people who did the lousy cover-up job are precisely the people to monitor. They apply perfume to shite, and their cure, as you point out, is worse than the disease. Who are these writers? Who do they write for? These questions will not go stale – they were pressed into service to do the impossible and they field. But in the attempt they show their hand. This is a window on to who’s who and, for Untold Media, should Tony/Walter confer and give the greenlight and some space once a week can proceed, along with more refined discussions on how to proceed for those who expressed interest like you, Stevie E (Evening Standard), me (Guardian), Shard (not sure which). Someone please consider monitoring the Mirror, Sky, etc. etc. But I do think that a proper analysis of media spinning of Newcastle/Arsenal is a first-rate place to go precisely because of its anomalous nature – that’s what reveals the crack in the edifice.

  • Shard

    @bobby P

    Statistical evidence that shows that Dowd, Dean and Webb are biased against Arsenal in their referee performances is available. Not just here with Walter’s analysis. A beautiful numbers game (which Dogface worked with) has over the course of many posts shown this.

    Apart from that there are many reason’s that a referee’s poor performance cannot be equated with a players poor performance. Firstly, the players’ performance is hampered by the oppositions’ performance. It is the sport after all. The referee’s performance has no such destabilising factor.

    Also, why there is less chance for a player to be corrupt than a referee is
    a) he is better paid and as such has more to lose than gain
    b) he is actually accountable to the club that employs him and the club itself would stand to lose and hence would take action (either legal, or simply drop him) The FA or PGMOL doesn’t directly stand to lose from a ref’s ‘poor’ performance..
    c) a player, if approached and fixed, would by himself have a limited impact on the game, unless he makes it too blatant. (GKs can of course do this at times but the other factors come in here) and a player can be withdrawn from the game by the manager if he isn’t performing. The referee, as I said before, controls the game and can have a much larger impact on the result, without making it very obvious. (Newcastle type events really are rare)

    Lastly, it is not the conclusion based on one match, nor one based on only Arsenal matches. It is apparent that something is not right in terms if the standard of refereeing in the EPL. When we have cases where it is actually referees and their decisions deciding matches rather than the teams on the field then it ceases to be sport. Whether that is because of corruption, bias, or ineptitude makes no difference in the end. However, if it follows a pattern (which it seemingly, and statistically does) and when you consider the processes and environment that football and the EPL in particular exist in, I think it is only logical that corruption not only exists, but is likely to pervade.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I can take the **shudder** Daily Fail.. I mean Mail.. or the Mirror if you prefer. I am still unclear on what exactly we will be flagging and how we will be categorising and rating the things we come across, but I think it’s worth a try.

  • BobbyP

    @Shard

    I agree in general that statistical evidence is of value, but it can only ever provide evidence of bias, not corruption. There could be numerous reasons for any bias uncovered, ranging from ‘big-club bias’, the effect of home crowds, to more sinister explanations. Note also that subjective analysis of referees from a biased perspective is not statistical evidence…

    Your argument seems to accept that there is no evidence of corruption, but that you believe there corruption/match-fixing is pervasive because ‘it is apparent that something is not right’ and because ‘it seems logical’. I have to say that’s not convincing to me in the lack of any real evidence, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree

    Fnally, note that the only people for whom real evidence regarding match-fixing/corruption has been produced (and taken to court) in the EPL are players (Grobbelaar, Fashanu and Segers)…

  • Shard

    Before the EPL I think that was. Not sure though, and even there as far as I know they were let off for lack of evidence. I’m sorry to say this, but court verdicts may be the final decision of the law but very often they do not mean ‘justice’. Now I’m not saying that those players were guilty or that anyone is now. Merely pointing out the inadequacies of the judicial system. It’s the best system we have, but it also has clear problems. We can and do know things which can’t be proven. And you are right that it is just conjecture, and I do assume things, but as I said, that is a realistic, logical assumption to make. The only other logical assumption can be incompetence or bias.

    As I said, I don;t particularly care about the motives. As long as this standard of refereeing continues, the sport, the game that I love suffers. Why does anyone making money off of that make it any worse? I don;t care who makes money or who doesn’t. All I want is better ref performances, and better responsiveness and accountability from the officials and their masters.

  • bob

    @Shard, Stevie E, Anne, UA, all: I think so far that we are the declared interested parties in an Untold Media group. So we currently have committed to weekly coverage of how the Mirror (Shard – and thanks!), the Evening Standard (Stevie E), the Guardian (bob), and another (Anne’s choice to be) cover the season. If more people would like to commit to a weekly media watch, please say so as soon as you decide. BTW, I may well have missed someone, so please do come out again to play.

    At this moment there are a few more moving parts: (1) Walter/Tony will presumably confer on whether to host a weekly media round up, keyed to Walter’s Ref Review, and open to any other notable – positive or negative – Arsenal coverage by our chosen media outlets; and (2) a possible analysis to come of some media coverage of the Newcastle/Arsenal outrage-on-the-pitch to help us all identify some few writers/coverup-spin patterns/outlets that were engaged in the tomfoolery. A kind of early template in an extreme case that could show which media players to monitor in the course of the season. I also think that we could start now to suggest what sort of things to watch for – what interests you most; and, of course, by simply starting to analyze the specific media coverage, we’ll see and refine whatever patterns emerge (or not) as our season unfolds. We’ll see if/how coverage may change depending on our position in the table at any given moment. We can also see whether (and who) comprises a media cheering section that is devoted to the realization of SAF’s (sorry, Lord Ferguson’s) 20th. Any ideas in advance are most welcome, and I’ll offer a few that I’m thinking about these days. Ideas and categories will surely emerge anything noteworthy that happens in each match – as it did time and again last season. (Take heart, as, for proof of concept: Sir Alex McLeish will be up to his old tricks and Phil Dowd still bestrides the pitch like a colossus.) We would note say, how Walter covered it (as a significant call, a significant non-call, his customary notes on the event), and then our analyses of how each media outlet dealt with or failed to deal with the event(s) at issue. The point is just to start the ball rolling and to agree to speak about this initiative with Stevie E’s apt phrase, as “Untold Media.” Perhaps Walter, Tony, Phil, Dogface have ideas on this to share – and anyone and everyone, especially in the wake of Anne’s fine, provocative and fun work on Cesc-Barca in the media. Any thoughts?

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Dear Casual Observer………please reread the article and my responses….maybe that will clear up your confusion?
    1)My basic point is that,despite continuous and recurring allegations of ¨corruption¨being widespread in world officiating ranks, there is no solid proof of this. It may exist but if it does, its been well hidden. Until shown otherwise, officials must be recognized as innocent until proven guilty or in your narrow world-view does accusing become proof?
    2)When I point out the officials potential to influence the outcome of a game, I am NOT saying they do it…but you want them to be found guilty…so fantasize away!
    3)Questioning my truthfulness by making snide remarks about my professionalism and my opinions should show anyone reading this blog that you are the one needing to be ashamed. How many years experience do you have in professional Football refeering? You are as autocratic and arrogant as you accuse me of being. Are you afraid of being found out as a troll?

    Officials are human and do make mistakes but over 50 years of Football experience, I have rarely met an official who goes out with the intent of ¨throwing a game¨ or ¨evening the odds.¨ Does this exist, I am sure there are cases but the overwhelming majority of officials are unbiased and fair arbiters of the game, and it isn’t just my opinion, it is proven worldwide.

  • bob

    @Dom: I’m curious what would you say now to the bursting Greek conspiracy football arrests, based on 41 matches that UEFA!! published or turned over to the Greek FA – some of them regarding CL/Super League teams, as well as referees, owners, police chiefs, etc. etc. Does this appear on your radar and have the slightest affect on your conception of the football world? or is it just a Greek thing that can’t happen here?