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By Tony Attwood
According to ESPN, last month, ‘UEFA head of referees Roberto Rosetti stood in front of a PowerPoint presentation and made an impassioned simple plea: “We need referees!”‘
That may be true, but such an appeal is also a handy way of hiding the real refereeing issue in the Premier League which is that which referee we get overseeing a match, will have an enormous impact on the result.
I’ve given these figures before, but there is no reason not to give them again, so appalling and outrageous are they. For last season it turned out that referee Stuart Attwell saw 75% of his games end as home wins while Jarred Gillett saw just 29.4% of this games ending as home wins.
Looking at it another way, Craig Pawson saw 47.6% of his games end as away wins, while Peter Banks saw 4.8% of his games end as away wins. And these referees all oversaw over 20 PL games last season.
Having a situation where one referee is almost ten times as likely as another referee to oversee a game that ends as an away win, is just insane. Maybe yes, by chance, occasionally, but not season after season. (And just to be clear the referees cited above all oversaw over 20 Premier League games last season).
Now in the ESPN article it is pointed out that “roughly one in seven registered match officials quit the game every year and that while football is booming around Europe… Across UEFA’s 55 member associations, they’re about 40,000 referees short.”
I can’t verify that, but let’s accept that statement and then ask, “What’s going on?” The Uefa head of referees, Roberto Rosetti, said of the situation, “It’s a vocational crisis,” making refereeing sound like the equivalent of working for the church. Indeed they continued by calling Rosetti “a former FIFA referee who today is the high priest of European match officials.”
It is a bit of a giveaway, for it really does point the finger at the central issue over referees. That we are all simply asked to BELIEVE in them and take referee decisions as matters of faith. Thus there is no attempt to point to their factual accuracy because clearly, they are biased. If they were not, the percentage of home wins against away wins for referees would be much the same for all of them across a season.
Undoubtedly it is true that fewer referees are entering the trade and quite possibly that is because “one of the problems identified by Rosetti is the abuse that referees encounter.”
Now normally, in any serious piece of writing, at this point the question would be raised, “why is there abuse?” But of course the question never arises anywhere, because we know why. Some referees mostly oversee home wins, and others mostly oversee away wins. Without an explanation of why that happens and then doing something about it, there can be no respect.
Now nothing that I write here is meant to excuse a situatioin in which, “16-year-old girls get chased around the pitch by furious coaches” or “where a 22-year-old referee in amateur football gets violently attacked by adults, is hit on the head and has to flee.”
But the fact is that although the violent thug-footballers cannot be excused in any way, they get that way because they see refereeing bias toward the home or away team regularly accepted. And having seen that home or away bias of referees in Premier League matches, of course players get upset when they see what they perceive as bias.
Now of course there might be an explanation as to why last season Stuart Attwell saw 75% of his games end as home wins while Jarred Gillett saw just 29.4% of his games end as home wins. But if there is why is PGMO not coming out and saying what that explanation is?
But now let us throw in another point that no article on refereeing that I have seen (other than on Untold) raises. Why is the organisation that controls referees in England so secretive? The PGMO is fanatical about maintaining its control. It won’t allow referees on the media to discuss a game as happens in some countries. It won’t answer the questions about the home/away bias. For goodness sake it even tells referees which car they have to be in when driving away from the ground after a game!
If only PGMO would open up and start discussing the bizarre home/away results stats that referees have, or explain why, with all the money in football, they can’t arrange matters so that no referee sees the same club more than twice in a season (once home once away), then we might start having a debate. But as it is we are getting nowhere, and that is entirely due to the PGMO and the way the English media bend the knee to that organisation and never question a single thing it does.
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