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Untold Media: How PGMOL determines how refs are reported – part 3
Yesterday we revealed more on how the shadowy referees’ association PGMOL seeks to influence what is said about refs in the media, and how they are successfully ensuring that the debate about referees runs down certain channels only – always avoiding the notion that the UK might be following where Italy led.
Now to continue…
In this final part of this series of articles, I am simply going to provide a series of examples of Dermot Gallagher’s statements to the media. My first reason for doing this is to provide additional evidence of whose interests are being served by Gallagher’s reporting. These excerpts will also serve to demonstrate the various methods that Gallagher (or the PGMOL) is employing to influence (one might almost say mislead) the public about refereeing decisions.
There are many examples of instances in which Dermot Gallagher has used his role as a pundit to provide support in the media for positions taken by the EPL and the PGMOL. One such example is the following BBC article by John Sinnott, which is primarily noteworthy due to the fact that Gallagher sided with the EPL against:
“Two Arsenal supporters – a computer expert and a qualified Belgian referee – [who] produced some detailed and interesting research on English referees.
“The computer expert, who goes by the name of ‘DogFace’, said his data ‘suggests referees exhibit a bias’ and added that ‘it matters not if this bias is intentional or subliminal, it is there’…
Professor David Forrest, an academic specialising in the analysis of the sports and gambling industries, believes the work of ‘DogFace’ deserves further investigation…with formal statistical analysis.
‘DogFace’ provides statistical analysis of referees ahead of Arsenal matches for the Untold Arsenal website. Belgian referee Walter Broeckx also works for the website…[and] provides post-match..,analysis of each game Arsenal play, marking officials on every decision they have made as well as making a note of the decisions they fail to make.
Broeckx concludes that English referees are getting only 62.75% of decisions right in matches involving the Gunners…”
I wish that I had been able to quote more of this article, because it’s really good, and I strongly suggest that everyone go back and read it, if you haven’t already. I particularly enjoy the fact that the EPL and Gallagher were made to look like complete fools by the strength of the real evidence. They had no response, and the PGMOL’s statistics looked laughably fake by comparison:
“According to a Premier League spokesman, English referees are performing pretty well.
He claimed that the number of offside decisions they get wrong is ‘extremely low’ and told me that overseas football associations frequently use English referees to help train their own officials.
Former top-flight referee Dermot Gallagher agrees that English officials are doing a good job, insisting they are getting the ‘key decisions right’.”
First of all, the EPL is fully aware that the number of offside decisions is not “extremely low.” Second, Dermot Gallagher is fully aware that English officials are not getting the “key decisions right.” But why lie? Whose interests is Gallagher serving here?
Moving on, the following example involves an instance in which Dermot Gallagher actually mislead the public about the rules of the game, in order to protect a match official. The example concerns an infamous decision against Arsenal by referee Martin Hansson during a Champions League match against Porto (start the video at 1:50).
This particular incident involved a quick restart in the penalty area that led to a Porto goal.
Both Walter and Dermot Gallagher have analyzed this incident. Turning first to Walter’s analysis, the following is Walter’s explanation of the relevant rules and how they apply. In the interests of brevity, I am only highlighting the rules that Walter believes the referee violated:
First Error: The referee failed to give the appropriate hand signal prior to the kick
“Let me quote the rule and the instructions once again ( and I apologize if the English is not totally correct but the instructions from Fifa to refs I have are in Dutch) :
In cases where a whistle is not required to restart a game, the referee GIVES A SIGNAL with one arm to get the game going. (except for a goal kick and a throw).
So the ref has to give a signal with his arm to allow the game to restart. The ref did not give a signal. So the game could not be started again. I’ve seen it some 24 times now and nowhere and from no angle there is a sign that he makes to allow the game to restart.
So the next thing from the rule book about:
The Indirect Free Kick
The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head. He maintains his arm in that position until the kick has been taken and the ball has touched another player or goes out of play.
This means the ref has got to indicate BEFORE THE FREE KICK IS TAKEN that it is an indirect free kick. The ref only gives this signal when the ball reaches the other player. So again a mistake and a foul from the ref.”
Second Error: The referee should not have allowed a quick restart in the penalty area.
“The rule also says, and here I place it in bold because it is so important…
“NEVER ALLOW A QUICK RESTART IN THE IMMEDIATE PROXIMITY OR IN THE PENALTY AREA!”
These are not new rules – rather the re-statement of existing rules, sent out to referees in order to clarify a situation – a situation in which as we can now see, the referee got it utterly and totally wrong in the Porto game.”
In the above articles, Walter determined that the referee in this instance violated two separate rules. Walter provided the text of the rules themselves, and based on that text, we can see that the referee’s actions did, in fact, violate those rules.
However, if you were relying on Dermot Gallagher’s analysis of the incident, you would probably be under the impression that the referee’s decision did not violate any rules, for the simple reason that Gallagher, in listing the rules applicable to the decision, selectively omitted the ones that the ref violated (I wonder how often he does that?). Gallagher instead opted to falsely inform the public that:
“Swedish referee Martin Hansson was right to award the decisive goal in Porto’s 2-1 Champions League win…
‘In theory everything he has done he will be able to justify in law,’ Gallagher said. ‘Why we look at it so strangely is because it is totally out of sync with what happens in the modern game…
Despite feeling the referee was correct, Gallagher was surprised the goal was allowed to stand. ‘He [Hansson] can say he got everything right,’ Gallagher added.
‘He will say he thought it was a deliberate backpass. He will say the goalkeeper is not entitled to hold on to the ball so he has given it….’”
In the same article, Gallagher also sees fit to explain to the public what Hansson was likely thinking at the time, and what his reasoning was when he made this decision:
“‘The problem was that he made a quick decision. He has gone to the area quickly to defuse any argument, which there wasn’t going to be because Sol Campbell was so disappointed he held his head in his hands.
‘In that situation I was really surprised because normally the goalkeeper drops the ball behind him or something and makes someone fetch it, which would delay matters. These are the things that normally come into play which didn’t.”
Basically, this is a fairly simple pattern that emerges with Gallagher: 1) If he can get away with it, he will say the ref didn’t make a mistake; 2) If he can’t avoid admitting that the ref made a mistake, he will provide an excuse for why it happened and also explain why the ref’s intentions were good.
We will now conclude the article by returning to the transcript of Gallagher’s recent appearance on Sky (provided by bjtgooner), which includes Gallagher’s takes on the recent spate of controversial decisions. These are interesting because, in nearly all cases, Gallagher has to admit that the decision was wrong, while still finding a way to make the ref look good.
In my opinion, in the following remarks, Gallagher sounds more like a marketing agent for the PGMOL than he does a media pundit, but maybe that’s just me:
1) Gallagher’s comments about Atkinson and the Ballotelli challenge on Song:
Atkinson “didn’t give a free kick… which in some ways has aided the referee and the FA, because I think this is an absolute shocking tackle. What I would tell you, Martin Atkinson is doing games like this because he is a top top referee and the fact that nothing’s been given tells me 100% he hasn’t seen it. Martin Atkinson is a very strict strong disciplinarian – if he sees something he acts on it, that’s why he does big games. He hasn’t seen that so now he can inform the FA he hasn’t seen it and they can process it how they want…”
2) Man U v QPR, Lee Mason ref, controversial penalty, Ashley Young goes to ground as Sean Derry comes in:
“From the referees point of view I can understand why he has given this, I don’t think it is a penalty…….(mumbles)…..without a doubt this is offside…uhm see Lee Mason there, I can understand from where he is why he gives it, uhm.., but that said I don’t think it is a penalty I don’t think it is a foul….”
3) Danny Murphy of Fulham brought down in ManU box, no penalty given. (Note here that the explanation Gallagher offers to Sky viewers about referee Oliver’s motives is the exact same explanation that John Dykes reported that Gallagher gave to Matchday about the incident).
“I think on this occasion because the ball goes to the right I think [ref] Michael [Oliver] is convinced that Carrick played the ball. One thing we teach the referees is if the ball changes direction, have a think in your head why the ball has changed direction and who would have kicked the ball, and unfortunately .. when you see that from the other side you can see it comes off Danny Murphy’s shin which is why it cannons to the right which is why Michael on that occasion thought Carrick played the ball, which he didn’t.”
(***note from bjtgooner: Carrick was nowhere near the ball!***).
4) Stamford Bridge and two offside goals
First goal: “The linesman “has a loss of concentration – that’s the only thing I can say, Natalie, he’s followed the ball, he’s ball watching, switched off for whatever reason and when the ball has come in, he’s moved on and completely not clocked what has happened.”
Second goal: “..there’s so many players in his view and that’s the difference – Mata’s at the top of the screen, he’s so much to focus on – he’s so marginally offside as well, he is offside, but marginally, I think that’s one that you just say, well it was unfortunate – a very very difficult call, one if he got right he did really well to get right. It’s very easy to sit here studying that saying he’s got it wrong, and as I said in his defence we didn’t know seeing replays after the game until an hour later.”
5) On Roberto Martinez comments… Do you think it is easier.. for referees to give decisions against smaller clubs?
”..ehm No I think the problem is the decision is based on what you see and what I would tell from my experience in refereeing.. – that when you see something you instinctively act – you act.. you act on what you have seen at the angle you are, you act on (sounded like – “don’t turn up with”) your knowledge of the laws of the game and experience you have gained throughout your career and that all comes together to make your decision. You don’t have time believe it or not to think it’s a big club or little club and real evidence of that is yesterday when Lee Mason everybody said… he didn’t give himself any thinking time, he just gave the penalty and gave the red card, well that’s because in his mind he was positive it was a foul. I mean if he had stopped to think that’s when you can say well he’s had a think it’s a big club or a little club, but he didn’t, it’s done.”
I’m not sure how to conclude this article, other than to hope that it’s given all of you some real food for thought about the media, refereeing decision, and particularly about where exactly reports in the media about referees might be originating.