By Tony Attwood
I have seen some odd and bizarre comments from clubs following our endless revelations about referees but the one from the Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers seems the most odd – and the most unexpected.
According to press reports Rodgers has said that Liverpool players could start diving and attempting to fool refs because they are not getting the decisions that they deserve from refs.
Now as you may well know, the Ref Review 2012 (link below) published on this site goes into enormous detail about how well or badly refs did last season, and indeed we have a whole article on referees and Liverpool. Our analysis of over 40% of all Premier League games last season shows quite clearly that there is bias among referees. We can’t establish where it comes from (incompetence, lack of referees, corruption… take your choice) but we can show it exists.
We have also shown beyond any debating point that the figures put out by PGMOL, the referees association, are completely wrong, and horribly over-estimate the accuracy of the referees in giving decisions.
So a bias for or against Liverpool is to be expected. It might be a long series of chance events, it might be because Liverpool has stopped offering referees the use of the owners’ villa in the sun, or it might be because another club or clubs has offered refs an inducement to do down Liverpool.
I have no idea how far Brendan Rodgers has gone along the lines of thinking this through, but reports say that he believes Suárez has been refused legitimate penalties in the past two games and that big decisions have gone against his team.
Maybe he should look at Arsenal’s record in penalties last season.
Apparently he phoned Mike Riley, head of PGMOL and told him that his players will be tempted to exaggerate contact to sway referees in future.
Here’s his statement:
“I’m concerned that we’ve not had any sort of rub of the green from officials. We like to think we are a sporting team, I have always told my players to do the right thing, not to dive, to play fair. But the fairness we show, it seems the decisions pass us by because of it. There are so many decisions that have gone against us.
I spoke to Mike Riley and he admitted he expected me to call earlier. I didn’t ring after the Manchester United game, I wanted to speak to the assessor first on that one, and he hasn’t contacted us yet. But after the West Brom game, I had to call. Jordan Henderson got a horrendous tackle and the player wasn’t even booked, while Andre Wisdom won the ball with a fair challenge and was booked. Things aren’t going for us at all.
It would be a shame if players who respect the rules and managers who are asking players to stay on their feet and not dive are not getting the decisions because of it. I think it is important that referees understand that. It has been a criticism of the last few years of players going down too easy. It is not something we want to encourage but if you’re not going to get decisions because of it players may do that.”
Of course some players get a reputation for diving. Robert Pires did after just one event that was blown out of all proportion by the press, and Suárez certainly has such a reputation.