Why did Liverpool player Robertson feel entitled to harangue the assistant referee?



Football out of control


By Tony Attwood

There are commentaries still appearing on the subject of the assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis pushing away Andy Robertson in the Liverpool v Arsenal match.  Andy Robertson was shown a yellow card for dissent by the referee after he argued the point to the referee, and Constantine Hatzidakis has been given a metaphorical red card, in that he has been “stood down” from further games for a while.

And there the matter waits, with a lot of press coverage of the incident but, and this really is the big point, no commentary in the media (at least none that I have seen) on the context.

Yet this is the fundamental point here: why did Robertson feel entitled to go up to the assistant referee and talk to him and seemingly harangue him?  Why in fact does every player feel able to surround referees these days and argue their point repeatedly?  Indeed how did football in England get to the point where referees are regularly surrounded by players?

Verbally or even physically attacking a referee or an assistant referee would seem to be in many ways the death of football since quite clearly the game cannot be played without a referee to decide what is and what is not happening.

And I guess the total nadir of football in this regard, in which anything is possible arrived when “PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi ‘threatened a Real Madrid employee’ during a FURIOUS rampage to find the referee after their dramatic Champions League exit at the Bernabeu, claim reports in Spain” as the Daily Mail put it in March last year. 

Now as far as I know Al-Khelaifi’s behaviour  was documented in the referee’s report, where it was stated that the PSG chief and others “behaved aggressively and tried to enter the referee’s dressing room. When the referee asked them to leave, the president hit a piece of the assistant’s equipment, breaking it.”

However, although Uefa clearly opened an investigation into that affair Al-Khelaifi escaped punishment for his actions.  As of course he had to because Al-Khelaifi is chair of beIN Media Group which handles the rights to a huge amount of football across 43 countries.   And he is chair of owned by the Qatar finance ministry, the Qatar Olympic Committee (which is part of the sovereign-wealth fund in Qatar) etc etc.  Annoy him, and the money dries up.

So how did we get to the situation in which players can regularly surround a referee, and another can chase after an assistant referee and harangue him?   Well, there’s the answer – because we are in an age where a senior football official and club owner can burst into the referee’s room after a game and harangue him, without anything happening, and without any punishment being handed out.

To bring this back to the English situation, we must add that PGMO has for years followed a path in which nothing is explained.  There is no public face of PGMO – it sits there in silence as the power of the referee and officials is gradually eroded.

Now there is an important distinction here between referees and assistants getting decisions right, which we all want, and the retention of the authority of referees and assistants on the pitch – for without the authority of the officials being retained we don’t have football any more.

Of course, the TV companies love events like this because it gives them ever more to discuss – indeed one can imagine that the producers of the live coverage were desperately trying to find a picture showing a player hitting referee: they just want the sensationalism.

But the PGMO incompetence is also to blame for not maintaining the authority of the referee and assistants on the pitch – for without that we have no game.   Indeed in this regard we can think back to the old notion of “Fergie Time” – that concept that when Manchester United were losing, additional “added time” was added by the referee as Sir Alex Ferguson ceaselessly paced, shouted and pointed at his watch.   In fact Opta did an analysis of this which showed how the amount of time added to Manchester United games increased year by year. 

TV companies of course love this – the Hatzidakis and Robertson event was a god-send to them, giving way to ever more opportunity for instant opinion and hyperbole.

Yet it is interesting to note that in Germany they have no problems of this nature, seemingly because the referees talk on TV – in England that is not allowed under PGMO ultra-secrecy rules.

Why did Robertson feel entitled to harangue the assistant official in this way?  Because it was assumed that Liverpool would win, because Liverpool invariably win at home.  Because Saka was not shown a red card as expected.   Because… the whole situation has got totally out of control. 

5 Replies to “Why did Liverpool player Robertson feel entitled to harangue the assistant referee?”

  1. The most important question but nobody asks it…apart from Untold of course…From the images I could see Robertson stuck out his arm towards the assistant. So I think he made a bit of a defending movement with his elbow to keep him at a distance. Robertson had no business to confront the assistant at that moment.

  2. Robertson is a nasty wee jock shit . a shame the Lino didn’t chin him.But the media fail to question why was he haranguing the Lino.Should have been carded by the ref.But of course it’s Liverpool & Man U?Different rules apply.The media certainly won’t point it out because it’d their darlings.
    For some strange reason I had high hopes for POLL at the PGMO but it looks like he’s no more than Mike Riley pt 2-with the appointment of Tierney(,3rd match already reffing us ) it looks like he following on Riley’s tactics.Shame.Thought he was bigger than that.Isnt there a rule for the No of times a ref can officiate one club? Looks like he’s our personal ref.Expect he’ll get the citeh match unless yourselves or the club kick up a ruckus.On the grounds of his numerous games with us.On the grounds he’s already cost us points & on the grounds he’s from Manchester.I mean does anyone notice this at the club.Gove me strength.

  3. The FA have allowed mob rule for too long and done nothing about it. Positive Pete is correct. Robertson is always very aggressive towards officials. He instigated the problem when he should have left the field. This ugly behaviour needs to be nipped in the bud immediately. I would suggest only the captain being allowed to speak to the referee. I am not optomistic anything will be done.

  4. Granit Xhaha’s reactive, over aggressive, interaction with TAA was,TBH, silly and unprofessional; and, a very likely trigger for the change of flow in the match: a “flow” that had it not been interrupted, at that particular point, might very well have allowed Arsenal to keep the initiative for long enough to secure the advantage they had already gathered?

    Not one of the “experts”, neither pundits nor officials (VAR included) gave any comment on the matter of the touchline tackle upon Xhaha immediately preceding the altercation that looked very questionable? Was this fair or foul? After all “if it walks like a duck there is a good chance that it may quack, and might possibly be a duck”

    A further question:- was it entirely obvious that Holding committed a foul in the penalty incident? He did not appear to make a movement into the Liverpool man! Do the rules oblige him to move out of the way of the attacking opposition? Football is a contact sport; and it did appear that in this instance the Liverpool player made a deliberate primary move towards the defender rather than the ball before throwing himself to the grass! Fortunately a higher authority than either the on field officials, or VAR seemed to intervene and, justly, steer Sala’s shot wide of the net!

    The media and City are starting to count the chickens. We should trust our very able young side, and young manager, to concentrate on producing the excellent standards of play that are so undeniable to all supporters of the beautiful game!

  5. My views on the questions raised in this thread:

    Robertson was the instigator of the incident with the official and his action seemed similar to the one carried out by Mitrovic, for which he got a red card and a long ban) and not vastly different from what Bruno Fernandes does a dozen times in every game.

    Xhaka was indeed the victim of a very bad foul, which was not suitably punished by the home-ref Tierney, (like a number of other Liverpool fouls and inn contrast to the dubious yellow card given to Ben White very early in the match.) TAA was the more aggressive of the two in the confontation which followed.

    Holding unfortunate, to say the least, to give away a penalty. He was actually tripped by the Liverpool player, who stuck out his foot, (like Vardy and Kane) to “win” the penalty. Definite justice when Salah missed it.

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