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October 2016
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The referee wheels are slowly starting to turn

By Walter Broeckx

In the past we have written a lot about referees. And we have always been very much in favour of not just judging referees but also in helping referees.

I know it still is not done in some referee circles to say that referees need extra assistance during matches. Some people still have that old saying in their head that the referee is always right even when he is wrong.

I have always been of the opinion that referees can’t get it right all the time. No human being can get it right every time. And certainly not when running around at high speed on a football field with 22 players moving around each other and the ball. Players who are more and more interested in cheating than in really playing the game at times.

In a way one could say that the reviews we have done paint a bleak picture of the standard of refereeing in the PL. And of course they do paint that bleak picture. But realising that the standard is below acceptable is one thing. But what can be done about it…that is far more important.

But to do something about it people have to realise that something needs to be done. And we are still fighting that battle for the moment in the PL I think. Looking at the way MOTD brushes away referee issues is part of the problem. The pundits in the past invented their interpretation of the laws of the game based on who benefited. And then ended up with saying: but it all evens out in the end. Explain that to Everton fans who have seen their team lose the semi final in the league cup largely down to a goal that should have been cancelled as the ball was out of play when it was crossed. How does it even out for them? Or for the players?

That lie has been said so many years that still a lot of people believe it. But when you check it… it never evens out. If for instance it would even out we will score 3 goals against Southampton that shouldn’t be given come counted next week. I now already can bet that this will not happen. And even if it would happen it would be a one off. As our study over many years have shown.

Referees are human and as the game has changed in a dramatic way compared to how football was played when the first laws of the game were made up, it still is baffling to see that we still referee in more or less the same way.

Goal line technology is working. And for me it is working fine. When they show the images I can live with the decision. No matter how I would have loved to see that goal count or not… I can accept the outcome.

As regular readers will know I have reported on the slow progress that has been made about using video referees. In Holland they have done a test but didn’t take the last step as that is still forbidden. The last step is actually connection the video referee to the referee on the field. But that is only a technical matter, not even a problem. The technology is available to connect all 4 referees on and around the field with a 5th referee in a different room with many TV screens in front of him.

Holland and Belgium have been running in front of the rest. Certainly Holland with Belgium closely behind them and being very much interested.

Even the FA have understood this and are now trying to get some tests going in the FA cups from next season. Germany also is very much in favour of having a video referee system working to help the referee on the field.

Is this all to undermine the referee on the field? No it is to help them do their job better.

Holland and Belgium have once again asked FIBA (the committee that is responsible for the laws of the game) to allow them to test the system from next season. And with other countries being very much in favour and also working on it, the question is not will they allow it but when will they allow it. In March FIBA will decide if they let the testing go further.

The wheels have been set in motion and once it really is in motion it can’t be stopped. More and more countries want to see better decisions from the referees on the field.

The rubbish that has been said by people like Platini that this would take something away from the game as then people will have less to discuss in the pubs after the match is what we could call “drunk talk”. Don’t you worry Michel, we can talk about many things in the pub before and after the match.

As it looks that the countries are more and more pushing forward the video referee system for the big decisions it will only be a matter of time before FIBA will allow a first test. In Holland and Belgium they have high hopes that they can test if from next season on. And once that test has been allowed there will be no stopping of the video referee for the future.

Will this remove all problems for once and for all for referees? NO! It will not. But what is important is that we only want that the decisions that are made will be based on as much imput as can be. Not just the eyes and brain of one person. But at least of one pair of eyes and some dozen different camera angles.

It is about justice for the players and the supporters. When the players and supporters leave the field they must know that all has been done to come to fair decisions and a fair outcome of the most important match incidents. They should know that match decisive moments like goals, red cards and penalties have been awarded in a correct way. And even if it would cost my team to lose a match, then I can accept it. Because I then don’t have to hear: it will even out. No, we will know that there is nothing to even out in the end.

The Untold Books

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The latest is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with an introduction by Bob Wilson.   Details of this and our other titles can be found Arsenal Books on this site.

More anniversaries

  • 29 January 1887: Erith 2 Royal Arsenal 3. This was the return match of the first ever game played under the name Royal Arsenal, and the fifth successive victory (including the open game played as Dial Square), with 27 goals scored and 3 against.
  • 29 January 1896 Mr Evans made the first attempt to get Arsenal a manager at the half-yearly general meeting but it was decided that the Committee should continue to pick the team.

18 comments to The referee wheels are slowly starting to turn

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I agree entirely, the evidence from video referees must come in and the sooner the better.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The decent and honest refs out there, hopefully the vast majority… need all the help they can get, with the way the game is now ie cheating, powerful clubs owners and managers, corruption, the speed of the game, scrutiny.
    But there are some refs who should be removed from the game.
    Those who have held up VT, hopefully many of them are now out of the game for good

  • proudkev

    Yes Walter, totally agree.

    Not only will video’s enable instant checkin on a lot of the key decisions it will also minimise the influence a poor or biased referee will have.

    I don’t want it for every decison but certainly for key decisons that change games.

    Oh and one other rule I would like to stop. All these silly red cards that ruin games; can we please bring back some common sense. It comes to something when we are encouraging players to ‘dive’ instead of staying on their feet and scoring – just because they know playing against 10 men is better than a goal. Like the Costa theatrics last weekend, it’s embarrassing!

  • Jambug


    “I have always been of the opinion that referees can’t get it right all the time. No human being can get it right every time.”

    No argument with that. As they say ‘we all make mistakes’.

    But Mistakes are one thing, BIAS is another thing altogether, and surely bias is at the heart of why Untold came into existence in the first place?

    It wasn’t bad refereeing, but the distinct impression that Arsenal where being screwed, game after game, week after week, and the referee reviews have irrefutably supported that notion.

    Of course I want refereeing standards to improve, we all do, but more than that I want an end to BIAS.

    I have said many times on here, and others similarly, that inherently our referees are not that bad. They more often than not perform admirably in Europe and on the international stage.

    So if they are inherently not really that bad, it must be something else, and that something else is that they fail to be impartial, to the extent of being biased.

    So, even if we could make referees ‘better’, would that necessarily stop them being biased?

    I’m not sure it would, because getting rid of bias means a complete change in mentality. From the way the ‘Laws of the Game’ are interpreted (Currently with a Northern interpretation as discussed on Untold) to how the application of them is perceived in the media.

    Will technology help?

    Well I really hope so, but given the interpretation of some incidents on post match replays I’m not convinced it will.

    When you consider that during the post match analysis of the 2014 FA Cup Final, BTSport managed to dismiss every Arsenal penalty appeal (5 in total I think), even to the point of accusing Arsenal players of diving, then it shows just what we are up against.

    Do I want technology? Definitely.

    Do I think it will help referees? Definitely.

    Do I think it will rid the game bias? I seriously have my doubts.

    And that’s what worries me.

  • Gord

    Nice article. I believe what you call FIBA is known in English as IFAB.

    Or maybe I haven’t had enough coffee?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Good afternoon to all Untolders.

    This is a very good article to read, digest and comment on it.
    The speed of football game globally now has increased tremendously over what it was as we can see it in the recorded films of past football games . But refereeing football games at all level, has mostly remain autodox with no significant improvement to keep pace with the contemporary evolutionary change in the game.

    Football referee authorities across the World have appeared to be stubborn of not wanting high tech aid introduce into the game as they look to want to perpetuate their totalitarian power hold to continue to reign in the game unabated.

    We all remember how long it took the then stubborn Fifa hierarchy to allow the introduction of goal-line technology into the game after a World wide outcry condemnations that followed the noon awarding of Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany at the 2010 World Cup tournament.

    I think the referee authorities are the ones that have influenced the then Fifa hierarchy to delay the introduction of the goal-line tech into the game which they were forced to allowed after the 2010 Frank Lampard’s goal disallowed episode. And now the temporary Fifa hierarchy appeared to be allowing the introduction of video referee into the game. As from the 2016 European Nations Cup in France?

    The World referees including those in the Premier League know that their excesses will be highly limited or curtailed if Video referee is allowed to aid their officiating works. Hence, they’ve not shown any interest by way of supportive comments for the introduction of video ref tech into the game.

  • para

    Being all for vid tech i still have the tendacy to look at it from the other side too.

    What if the 5th referee became the sole one who becomes the manipulator, all others having to follow his lead? This makes it so much easier for manipulations.

    In the end we are fighting against mindsets and until they change not much will change.

    Still, that’s another problem we will have to deal with if and when.

  • Jambug


    “In the end we are fighting against mindsets and until they change not much will change.”


    What I said in about 250 words you managed to say in 16 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    Of course the 5th referee will have to be monitored but I think this is why they have to come out in the open and say why a certain decisions has been made

  • omgarsenal

    Walter, we are both experienced referees and both as unbiased as we can be so having an excellent technology like GLT and video referee reviews would only serve to highten our success rate at making the right call.
    Jambug…..I agree that technology cannot eliminate innate bias BUT it can easily reveal it. The bias that the media has cannot be touched as they have a free-run at their audiences BUT there have been numerous articles done by Walter,myself and others on UA suggesting other solutions to this bias problem including increasing PIGMOB officials, recruiting more southern officials, stricter guidelines for appointments, etc.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    After watching video technology being applied to the different formats of cricket , and it being quite successful , I do hope that it comes quickly into football and the EPL in particular .
    And just like cricket, put up the replays from the different angles on the big screen . That ought to eliminate bias .
    Collective self induced blindness and stupidity like in the case of the emperor who wore no clothes , in it self is entirely another issue !

  • norman14

    The technology operators will be very busy judging from events over the past fortnight. There was:

    1. Anthony Taylor’s triple gaff at Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds (How will technology fix that?)
    2. The failure of the officials to see/punish a handball, an offside, a foul by the “victim” leading to the red card for Per against Chelsea
    3. The “goal” following the ball out of play for Manchester City against Everton
    4. Martin Atkinson’s alleged comments to the Everton captain following the above decision
    5. Failure to give Wayne Rooney offside for Man United’s first goal against Derby
    6. Failure to give Antony Martial offside in the build up to United’s 3rd goal against Derby.

    These are just 6 examples from 4 games, there must be thousands more.


    Bias is already highlighted and PIGMOB just don’t care – it’s an agenda that either they set, or are party to.

  • Jambug

    Walter/omgarsenal/Brickfields Gunners

    I agree. Having to openly justify there decisions would put massive pressure on them, as long as the person asking the questions was impartial and REALLY wanted to get to the crux of the matter, as opposed to one that would be ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ depending on his agenda.

    No good relying on SKY for example as we all know how they ‘grill’ Wenger at the slightest opportunity whilst back in the day they dare not say ‘boo’ to Fergy.

    So as long as they where questioned correctly and impartially, it must help.

    But that’s where we keep going back to. Not matter what we do can we gaurentee impartiality?

    Maybe, maybe not, but all this will surely make partiality, or bias if you like, much more difficult to indulge in.

    Also ‘Micing’ them up as per Rugby. That too would put enormous pressure on them to justify what they are doing and why.

  • Jambug


    “Bias is already highlighted and PIGMOB just don’t care – it’s an agenda that either they set, or are party to.”

    ‘Party to’ is my take on this.

    The agenda is ‘set’ by the Media.

    If by some amazing quirk of misfortune a media favourite such as Fat Sam or Arry for example, suddenly became our manager, we would see an immediate and drastic upturn in how we are treated in the media, which would be immediately followed by a similar upturn in our refereeing fortunes on the pitch.

    I’m convinced of it, but oddly enough pray to God I never find out if I’m right 🙂

  • norman14


    I like your sentiment, but unfortunately, it’s not just us is it?

    Martin Atkinson’s performance tonight was simply awful, and we weren’t involved.

    I must admit, I do like the way Bilic “discusses” his grievances with the 4th official – perhaps many other managers could learn from that!

  • Minesy

    The sooner the better !!!

  • Jambug


    “I must admit, I do like the way Bilic “discusses” his grievances with the 4th official – perhaps many other managers could learn from that!”

    Again it’s a bit down to interpretation. Not by yourself I might add, but by the media.

    When Wenger is seen talking to the fourth official he is either ‘moaning’, ‘whinging’ or ‘ranting’.

    When Fergy or especially Mourhino was doing similar they where either, ‘Making a point’ ‘rightly aggrieved’ ‘having a laugh’.

    Similar in the press.

    Wenger was always ‘biting’ ‘being wound up’ ‘spikey’ or whatever, whereas the aforementioned where always just ‘playing mind games’ or such like.

    By the way, did you notice how Clopp ‘did not see’ the hand ball incidents ?

    Much the same as every other manager when it suits, but as we all know it’s only Wenger that ‘does not zee it’.