By Walter Broeckx
With a lot of visitors (including supporters of other clubs) visiting our site in the last days it was interesting to see how some of readers don’t get the idea of what we have been developing in the last couple of years.
We also had many new readers who support Arsenal but who didn’t notice us before and now are wondering what we are up to.
Some might have been thinking and told us that we are a bit of a crazy bunch who are looking for things that are not there. Some seem to believe that England and the PL are immune to any kind of match fixing by any one. England being the only safe area where never ever there will be any match fixing of any kind.
Fair enough who am I to disturb your paradise on earth? For those who say: well England is the same as the rest of the world and people over here can be influenced to do something wrong, then we have the evidence and information. For those who say: No we Englishmen would not do such things I would only ask you : are there by any chance prisons in England?
Because in all countries of the world there are prisons for people who don’t behave according to the laws. I have seen a prison when once walking from Kings Cross to the Emirates so I do suspect that just as in the rest of the world people do wrong things. So why would it suddenly change when football is involved? [That would either be Pentonville Prison on the Caledonian Road, or Holloway Prison for women and young offenders, where the suffragettes were held – Tony]. In life most people are good but it only takes one bad apple to make the rest of the apples in the basket rot.
I know still some people find it hard to believe that a ref can tilt a game. As I am a ref myself I know it is very well possible to do such a thing. Now I am a person who believe in doing the right things in life. I try to live according to the laws (even the ones I don’t like at all) and so I do the same when I do my games as a ref or as assistant. Are all refs saints? Oh FFS …NO!!! I have talked with refs who have admitted to me having fixed a game in the past.
A big part of the difficulty is : how can you see if a ref is fixing a game in a certain way? And this is where it gets difficult. You first of all must know where to look. And to find such a thing you must have a bit of experience as a ref. It is not necessary but it surely helps a lot if you have experienced the power you have as a ref. If you have seen what an influence your decisions can have on players or on a team you would be amazed on how you can tilt a game.
Now the next question is: HOW do you do it? Well there are in general two options you have.
The first one is: doing it in plain sight for everyone to see. You let go flagrant fouls. You blow imaginary penalties for one team. And refuse to give the most blatant penalties for the other team. Now every spectator in the ground will see it. I could give as an example of this approach the way Webb did in the Chelsea – Manchester United game. I also could point at the way Dowd did the last hour of the Newcastle – Arsenal game last season. Where for some reason Dowd decided shortly after Arsenal had gone 0-4 in front to just let Newcastle commit the most horrendous tackles on Arsenal players without blowing it, inventing all kinds of free kicks when an Arsenal player came near a Newcastle player, inventing penalties, …
The only thing is when you do it like that you expose yourself. So refs will avoid this situation. If it isn’t completely necessary they will not make themselves look like fools. Nobody wants to look like a fool and this the same for a ref. But some persons will accept this consequence if it really is needed.
The second way of tilting a game is very difficult to see for the untrained eye. In fact I think only people who have or are refs can see it and people who have been told what to look for can see it if they pay attention.
This way is that you make sure that you stay away from big controversial decisions. You don’t invent a penalty for the team you want to give a favour. No you will make them win the game where on general a game is won: in midfield.
In fact it is a simple thing to do. You apply the rules strict for one team. And you let the rules go out of the window for the other team. Not when a blatant foul is made. When a player clearly trips a player that even a blind man can see you will give that foul. But for the rest you will let all things go you can let go. A shove in the back? Don’t blow. A push with a arm? Didn’t see it. A swing of the hip to trip a player? No, no he could have stayed on his feet. Pulling a player by the shirt? Oh, that must have been on my blind side.
Any excuse you can give is good enough. If you are a master in this you can even do it in such a way that the bad treated team feels something is wrong but doesn’t realise what is happening. The result of such an approach is that the team who is on the good side of your decisions will feel that they can almost do what they want without punishment.
The other team will get frustrated after a while. And then try to match what the team that is getting away with it, and start pushing and shoving. And then of course you will call those fouls. The more frustrated this team will get, the more fouls they will make in the game that you can punish. And thus giving time and space to the other team to reorganise themselves in defence when needed.
If you have to blow a foul that you really cannot let go you will make sure that the one team cannot take a quick free kick. You suddenly find the need to put the ball on the exact spot. Of course you don’t do this for the other team. They can take their free kick where they want.
I could go on and on for a while about the little things you can do without people really noticing it. But such an approach can be as effective as going for the big calls. It is as effective and nobody notices it.
Of course there could be times when you need to use both ways if it really doesn’t work. But a ref will not want to expose himself too much so if possible he will prefer the second way of working and only invent a penalty when it is really needed.
Now it could be that you think : this is a load of rubbish. It cannot work that way. Then I really do think that you never ever have been a ref or have watched enough football. In that case I could advise you to become a ref and do the games in the most fair way possible. And then after a few seasons you will know and understand the power a ref can have on a game.
A question you might ask yourself is: does it always work? And then I can tell you that I don’t think it will always work. The team you want to treat badly can be in such a great form that even this approach is useless. But the people for who you are doing it for and know what you are doing will have noticed your attempt in that case. I would like to add that even in the calciopoli-era in Italy the desired results did not always happened.
So this was an attempt to give you a rough impression of how to fix a game as a ref. It is up to you to keep your eyes open. The first way is easy to see. The second way is more difficult to see. But if you try, you will see it when it is happening.
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