By Tony Attwood
Paul Wilson writing in the Guardian recently made this comment…
Referees do not always make the right decision on the spot, and sometimes they make the wrong decision for the right reasons. But with time, hindsight and replays, the disciplinary commission should be capable of sorting all that out.
Now on the face of it that seems fair. Really, nothing to argue with is there?
Well actually there is one rather clever omission from this commentary – an omission that twists the whole argument about referee errors down one particular alleyway without giving the reader a chance to see what has happened, or indeed consider another approach.
It is one of those rather dastardly techniques that have become the centrepiece of contemporary football journalism and which has led to the manipulation of the way in which we see football, as I will try and explain.
So the Guardian article ignores totally the issue of the level of referee accuracy and instead talks just about this one incident in isolation. Of course the appeals procedure itself helps keeps the myth alive for as the Guardian reports, Vardy, “argued the referee had been wrong to send him off, the commission found the official had sufficient reason. End of appeal, end of story.”
Except that if the journalist was doing his job he would ask, “how many major decisions do referees get wrong each week?” and look around for a source of information. But the journalist didn’t and indeed even if he had, I suspect the Guardian would have felt the story too hot to handle.
That’s football – it can never be perfectly consistent and often the best plan is to simply shrug and accept its ups and downs. But after the past couple of weeks surely someone within the FA ought to be at least reflecting on what really constitutes a reckless challenge, violent conduct and dangerous play.
The difference is that I would write
But after the past five years of detailed analysis surely someone within the media ought to be at least reflecting on just how many errors referees make, and why PGMO withdrew their claim that their employees are 98% accurate.