The one huge weakness in the Premier League which one day will unravel




Football: the danger of not talking

According to a report from Italy, and reported across much of Europe, in the Italian Serie A “dark-skinned players are punished more than others.”

The study comes from researchers from North American universities.  Part of the cause of the effect seemed to be pressure from the crowds, and has brought out comments in the media that in Europe, racism is still too often present in the stadiums.

Now in mentioning this I am not in any way suggesting that the same situation is happening in the Premier League nor in any other league in England.   I’ve not experienced it at Arsenal for years although perhaps that is because I tend to sit in a particular part of the stadium where chanting is not a major feature.  But I have heard racist comments occasionally in some other grounds and anti-semitic chants outside the ground.

But there is a deeper point here.  This report is not actually about the chanting in the crowd, but the way the chanting against players related to their colour, affects referees.

This is something that is being discussed in Europe and the figures are being looked at.   But this cannot happen in England because there is absolutely no mechanism for anything that referees do, to be openly examined in the media.

So to be completely clear I am not saying that PGMO referees do respond differently to the behaviour of players because of the colour of their skin, but rather, because there is no media debate whatsoever about any aspect of referee behaviour (including of course decision making) we would have no mechanism in England to open up this issue if it were ever raised.

And yet we do have massive amounts of information about referees in the Premier League being influenced by the crowd – which is of course is what is being talked about in Europe at the moment in relation to the colour of a player’s skin.

For example, the academic research overseen by a director of Atletico Madrid who is also himself a senior academic, showed just how much the crowd influences referees.

Then in the unique period of the pandemic when games were played without crowds, the pattern of the results changed dramatically.  Instead of more home wins there were more away wins.

With the return of crowds we saw a return to the pattern of results as previously (more home wins than away wins) and with two types of referees – those that regularly oversee games involving home wins, those regularly overseeing games ending in away wins. And to be quite clear I am not saying that every referee should oversee the same percentage of home wins, but rather that the differences should not be that enormous.

But my main point is that in England we do not have a way of discussing this.   For as soon as anyone mentions refereeing then a) the media ignore the issue totally, and b) fans of other clubs dismiss the argument as a set of excuses for the other club’s failure.

And this is a huge issue even if one feels that PGMO referees are the best in the world and are doing nothing wrong.   Because even if that were to be the case, the time would come where some sort of discussion is needed – and yet it won’t be possible because we don’t discuss referees.

One only has to look at the data that is now supplied by Who Scored from 2009/10 onwards   Consider this for example…  In 2009/10 Lee Mason oversaw 22 Premier League games – 18 of which ended up as home wins!   And of course one can say, well, strange results do happen.  That’s what makes football so interesting, you never quite know….

Except that the following season only six of Lee Mason’s games ended up as home wins, and yet there he was overseeing 23 games.

Now yes, I know, such variations can happen by chance – but these freaky sets of figures don’t happen in life very often by chance.  The most common explanation is that there is something behind the numbers.  So my criticism is not that Mason was biased, but that no one was investigating or analysing.

And why is this?  Is it because the media has agreed with PGMO never to go into such things?  That seems the most likely explanation, and if that is so, then it is an agreement which is to everyone’s detriment.

For it is because of this we have never seen (other than here) the very, very weird statistics relating to Leicester City and referees that Untold followed recently, considered in the media.  And that was to everyone’s disadvantage (except of course PGMO and Leicester City).

One Reply to “The one huge weakness in the Premier League which one day will unravel”

  1. I remember some years ago a large metropolitan, local authority with which I had some professional connections, was criticised for not carrying out ethnic monitoring on its housing waiting list and housing allocations procedure. The Councillor who was Chair of Housing Committee at the time explained to the media that it was not necessary to carry out ethnic monitoring because the authority wasn’t racist! Now don’t get me wrong, he was a nice bloke and it may well have been that the authority’s approach wasn’t racist…..but he clearly couldn’t prove it.

    So how would people react if a certain University gave all their students first class degrees without having final exams…..on the basis that they “knew” all their students were very clever and deserved the grade?!! Or perhaps that a certain doctors’ surgery didn’t bother examining their patients or testing them for particular illnesses because they “knew” what the problem was without doing so?!!

    Yes, it’s completely absurd………but that’s the PGMO for you. They don’t see the need to look at their own standards because they believe they’re so good they don’t need to……but can they prove it? On the contrary!

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