Because there are technical problems with Untold Arsenal off and on I am also publishing articles on our Facebook page:
If you ever can’t get on this site, try the Facebook page.
Now onto today’s piece
How Sweden have taken up the battle of more open refereeing.
Last year we ran a series of articles on how European football was starting to look at using video technology in an attempt to improve the quality of refereeing. The story got little coverage in the UK, although after we ran our series PGMO, the highly secretive organisation that arranges the supply of referees to the Premier League did suddenly come out with an article of its own which the Telegraph published, saying how in touch they were with these developments. Maybe that was a co-incidence.
Whether it was or not, the idea was then squashed, and the European experiment abandoned and secrecy returned.
But now it seems that the Swedish League has had enough of this endless, endless secrecy, and it has authorised a referee from its league to start his own Facebook page in which he comments on his own work.
As might be expected the English media, which mostly bends the knee to PGMO, has ignored the matter, but the Guardian to its credit has covered the story of Mohammed Al-Hakim, whom they call “one of the most promising officials in the Swedish top flight.”
What makes the approach all the more interesting is that in his opening account, the referee admits that he made a mistake in not giving a penalty. in the game between IFK Norrkoping and AIK and has been praised for his willingness to discuss contentious decisions.
Interestingly the publicly stated aim of the site is to open up discussion and make the world of football refereeing more transparent. Exactly the opposite aim of PGMO.
According to the report in the Guardian (which I am of course reliant on here because I don’t speak Swedish, and Walter, who speaks every single language ever invented, and quite a few more, is on holiday) quotes the referee as saying
“I also want the page to inspire more people to become referees, which is an important part of football. I want to show my side of officiating and want to balance the picture [there is of us] in the media. I want to increase the accessibility in the football family.”
The paper, which I think should be applauded for running the story (even if they do it without contrasting the approach in Sweden to the fanatical secrecy that surrounds English refereeing at the highest level) goes on to say…
“The 30-year-old is one of Sweden’s most promising referees and attended a Fifa course in February as he stepped up his efforts to officiate on the international scene. His page received a lot of attention when it was launched with the sentence: “Keep a good tone here and the chances of this page surviving will increase.”
He then added, “I should have given a penalty yesterday. Full stop. Now I have seen what you surely have seen already. I’ve seen the replays a few times and looked at stills and different angles. Because what it is about for me, is that I want to learn something and try to understand why I did what I did. I will never be right all the time but it is important to minimise the mistakes and make sure that I am right in the important moments.”
He added: “I have got a lot of positive feedback. Of course there are some negative voices but the majority has been very positive. The whole idea is just a test but it the Swedish refereeing committee is in on it. They have agreed that I am doing it.”