With the pros come the cons
Hello Untold readers. I’ve got a brand new theory for you. Well, sort of, since I’ve suggested it in the comments below, but hey..It’s still new. But before we get to what the theory really is (clue: it’s about referees) let’s get to some ‘fun’ reading material. It is Graham Poll’s article in the Daily Mail: “Mike Jones should not expect to return to Old Trafford for many a season”
Mr Poll says…
Jones must have been certain to have awarded the corner immediately the ball went out. And of course he was correct.
The way the ball changed direction helped verify his decision and he should have simply over-ruled Flynn. The fact that he did not should lead to his absence from a Premier League game
As for Flynn, I would expect a longer absence and he should not expect to return to Old Trafford for many a season.
Forget what the headline says, the real target of Poll’s attack isn’t Jones. It is the linesman Flynn. Well, in one way, it was Flynn who made the mistake, while Jones was correct, but didn’t Jones make the final decision?
But really: for a mistake, a linesman should be essentially banned from officiating at a certain venue? Don’t referees normally all stick together? Just what is going on? Maybe it’s just that the ever so honourable Sir Alex Ferguson was annoyed with Flynn.
This article claims that “United’s boss blasted referee Mike Jones – no stranger to controversy – after he first awarded a corner following Rio Ferdinand’s challenge on Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, then appeared to be talked into giving a penalty by assistant John Flynn.”
But what the ever so upright Sir Alex really said was “’It was a terrible decision, one of the worst I have ever seen. The referees are supposed to be full-time but the linesmen are not [Flynn is a Flight Sergeant in the RAF]. Whether the assistant referee ever gets a game again is not up to him but it was an absolutely shocking decision. It costs you, that.”
He then had the temerity to bring up an incident where he was probably favoured by the referee (any chance it was Howard Webb?) and wondered why Jones couldn’t do that. “We had it a few weeks ago when the linesman gave a penalty that was never a penalty and the referee overruled him. Why couldn’t the referee do that today? He was so near to it. He was eight yards away. It was a travesty, the referee was closer than the linesman. I think it was everyone’s view that it was not a penalty, including the referee.
‘He says he thought Ferdinand had touched the ball and gave a corner kick and he’s let the linesman overrule him. He put the referee in a terrible position and he was clear about it, the linesman. He’s obviously not watched the game.’
As we can see, the attack on the linesman continued as well. And of course, this decision is what he recently brought up as a counter to the claims that Manchester United are favoured by the referees.
The whole media machinery, of course, agrees with him. The real question is…Do the fans? Maybe the cracks (or is that the crooks) are really beginning to show, and the media blitz is a response to that? Let’s hope so…
But getting back to the real point. The attack on, specifically, the linesman, by both Ferguson and a former referee, is something which is strange in my view. When last did you hear any official so publicly criticized…No..chastised.. for a ‘mistake’? Did the FA bring any fine on Alex for this incident? Maybe they did, but from memory, no such action was even contemplated by anybody. So why was this?
Let’s take a look at two seemingly unrelated articles
EPSN’s Soccernet ran the terrible story of the German referee who attempted suicide.
This is an awful story, and I hope Babak Rafati is doing well now. But looking beyond that, the article says ‘it remains entirely unclear whether or not Rafati’s suicide attempt has anything to do with football.’ However, ‘During the first days following the incident, there was hardly a newspaper that didn’t run an editorial about how everybody in football, from fans to players and coaches, should have more respect for match officials.’
‘Herbert Fandel, chairman of the German FA’s referee commission, criticised the German magazine kicker for its half-yearly survey among footballers, because the paper asks the Bundesliga players to name, among other things, the worst referee of the season. (Rafati has finished last in this vote on three different occasion in the past six years.) “This poll is humiliating,” Fandel said, “it needs to be abolished. Referees are being shown up, their character is being damaged.”
The article then lists out all the problems the German FA has faced. “German referees have been indeed in the headlines on a regular basis in the last couple of years, starting with the match-fixing scandal in 2005 that centred around the referee Robert Hoyzer. Last year, the spokesman for the German referees, Manfred Amerell, was forced to step down when a young referee disclosed having had a sexual relationship with Amerell which he claimed was not voluntary on his part.
And just four weeks ago, the tax authorities searched the offices of the German FA in connection with allegations of tax evasion. The allegations, which some people believe to have been made by Amerell, concern referees who have officiated games abroad and thus received payments from foreign countries.
Which is why the coverage of the Rafati case concentrates on his hobby, refereeing. (There are no professional referees in Germany. Rafati, whose parents are Iranian, works as a bank manager.)”
The other article is a lot simpler to follow. It is from the Dutch Referee Blog and it says
Carlo Bertolini will be the new Swiss referee boss. He succeeds Urs Maier, who resigned in June because he didn’t feel support from the FA in professionalising refereeing in Switzerland.
Bertolini doens’t want to professionalise Swiss refereeing as Maier wanted. “I’m a staunch opponent of 100 percent professionalisation of refereering. At first, I’ve doubts if the number of mistakes will reduces if amateurs become pro’s.”
Bertolini will do this as part-time job. He also will educate young referees and he keeps his job at SwissCom.
And finally, we come back to the original issue. The Independent ran the story “Why are reputations on the line for £600?”
“Here’s another shocking decision: that in 2011, in a league that generates more money than any other in the world, where some players are paid in excess of £200,000 a week, where some are paid that to train with the reserves, assistant referees are part-time.
In Spain, assistant referees earn a salary of €50,000-€65,000 (£43,000-£56,000) for 20 games a season. In the Premier League they earn £600 per game. And as Flynn is probably about to find out, the group of assistant referees are not guaranteed to be assigned a game every week so they have no option but to continue with their day job.
These men and women are being asked to make decisions that have huge consequences. They face the kind of public scrutiny that many junior Cabinet ministers will never have to experience. Their decisions are pored over in HD and super slow-mo. Get it wrong and, as on Saturday, they face the kind of prime-time excoriation that few people in British public life ever have to experience.”
“Assistant referees like Flynn and Sian Massey do not run the line to get rich. They do it because, like the rest of us, they love the game and – in their case – they have achieved a level of excellence in their specialism. But if we expect them to work in a professional game, then they need to be treated as professionals.
A full-time salary is the least they deserve. The 18 select group Premier League referees are all paid a working wage. It enables them to prepare for matches, to rest and to do their research. Most importantly it means that when Friday comes they are not driving home tired from a week’s work and praying their judgement is not skewed.”
“Earning around £600 for 90 minutes work sounds like a lot of money (unless you happen to be Tevez). Given the demands of being an assistant referee upon a normal working career that hardly represents a commitment from the football authorities.”
“As a trade union man himself, Ferguson will recognise the unfairness of the situation. In fact, it was telling that even in the midst of his post-match recriminations he still acknowledged it. It would not happen in his world. There is more chance of him accepting a Conservative peerage than a member of the United staff not being afforded the right conditions and wage to do their job.”
Now, you could read this as a defence of Flynn. But this is basically an argument about professionalizing linesman, oh sorry, assistant referees. Something apparently Ferguson wants as well, because he’s such an old softie and a generous human being. It seems reasonable though, doesn’t it? That in a league that earns so much money, the officials should get more than they do at the moment. We’ve seen this sort of argument before was back in 2001, and I, for one, agreed with it. Here’s what the BBC said at the time…
Referees in England will be professional from next season, the Football Association confirmed.
The new scheme will enable officials to go full-time as a result of the financial incentives on offer, and they will also be more accountable regarding their performances in matches. The referees’ National Review Board is to be replaced by a new organisation, called the Professional Game Match Officials Board.
Former Fifa referee Roger Milford believes that the move will be beneficial for all.
“I am sure this will mean more consistency from the officials on points of law which cause controversy,” he said.
“The fact that the referees will meet regularly for training sessions means they will sit down together and watch videos of incidents which have caused controversy.
The top referees could earn up to £60,000 but Milford has no qualms about such figures.
“There are footballers out there earning £20,000 to £30,000 a week – and that is at the bottom end of the scale,” he added.
“So referees deserve to earn the sums being talked about.”
When I first started watching football back in 1996, with the Euros, and then the premier league where I could only watch a few matches a season, but was smitten with Arsenal. I never noticed the referees. I hardly ever knew their name. Despite my anger at some decisions, at no point did I think that they were working to tilt the game in one direction. I always put it down to mistakes, and I believed that it would even out at the end of the season. Yes. I believed all the clichés the media puts forth. But was I wrong?
Was it just that I didn’t understand the game as much, or were refereeing standards better back then in the ‘good old days’? The thought behind this article came into my head a few years ago when I was watching some football match with a British friend of mine. (I say where he’s from to demonstrate that it isn’t just something someone watching from halfway across the world felt). Some incident made him say just what I was thinking at that precise moment. That the refereeing has seemed to have gotten worse since the refs became full time professionals.
As I said, back in 2001, I was actually fully for the idea. Of course referees should be paid well, and professionalism can only be a good thing which will improve the standard of refereeing… Somehow it didn’t quite turn out that way. It would appear that as with anything, also in football, with the pros come the cons.
There you have my theory. That professionalisation of referees actually reduced the standards of fairplay and accuracy, when the stated objective was the opposite. In crude terms, it is easier to control someone’s actions when you are their exclusive paymaster. This would bring the disturbing corollary that corruption is, in fact, stemming from the bodies in charge, rather than directly from the underground elements of say a gambling industry. But then again, how many people doubt FIFA, UEFA etc are corrupt to the core?
Ref Review: QPR v Arsenal – the ref review
Match fixing: Media rush to deny match fixing takes place