Incompetence or corruption? Why referees in England behave so differently from those in Germany.



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By Tony Attwood

On German TV this weekend, in the run-up to the Leipzig – Bayer Leverkusen game journalists came onto the pitch with the cameras and microphones.   They were there to interview… the referee.

Now that might seem a wind-up to you in you are a fan of English football, but it is actually absolutely true.  And it was not considered unusual, because in Germany the referees are open to discussion – although mostly we see it after the game when they give their thoughts on how the game went from the refereeing point of view.

But there was actually more than this, for the journalists then gave the referee two boxes of Panini cards – which itself was not that odd because in Germany, the referees have their own dedicated pages in the Panini album.

Now of course, none of this is reported in England because in England the media has a different relationship with referees – one of keeping most things secret.  Indeed the fact that Howard Webb has come out and admitted Liverpool were wrongly denied a penalty against Arsenal for Martin Odegaard handball is news because such an admission is rare.

This story of course then made bigger news also being picked up by the Telegraph and it has been produced seemingly to promote the “lucky Arsenal” notion.  For there has indeed been no balanced reporting of matches where it would seem Arsenal have been denied a penalty themselves.

According to Sky Sports, which showed the match, PGMOL stated at the time that a penalty had not been given because “Odegaard’s arm is moving towards the body and not the ball as he goes down”.

But perhaps what is most interesting of all is that the Telegraph article continues with the point, “It is the second time this season Premier League leaders Liverpool have been on the wrong end of a major mistake in a crucial game in which they have ended up dropping points.”

And that is interesting because there is absolutely no comparison between the Liverpool situation and that of other clubs.   For if it is a fact that Liverpool and only Liverpool are not getting decisions they ought to get, then clearly there is a referee bias against Liverpool and that is something that must be investigated in depth.

But if it is the case that all referees are making mistakes regularly and that this is going on unchecked because it “all evens out in the end” as the old saying goes, then the reports are incredibly misleading because they do give the impression that referees are biased against Liverpool. 

Plus there is a third option.  And that is that Liverpool are getting many more dubious decisions go their way, and with this having been spotted the referees are edging back from giving decisions that maybe could have gone their way.

Now this decision not to cover referees on a regular basis through a detailed analysis of what the referee has done in each and every PL game, is a decision made by the media.   Just as their decision to focus heavily on the Liverpool affair is a decision by the media.

But in making this decision the media is greatly aided by the PGMO approach of generally keeping referees tucked away and not interviewed by the media.

We seem to be entering a halfway house at the moment in which some referees can talk on some occasions, and that is even more unsatisfactory since it can be used to suggest that certain teams are being unfairly penalised, which in turn suggests that some teams of getting the benefit.

The only sane route out of this horrific mess is to adopt the German open approach to refereeing, having them interviewed before and after the game.

The questions therefore are

a) why the are media not insisting on more access to the referees since clearly this is a matter of interest?

b) why are PGMO not allowing more access to referees, following the German model?  What do English referees and their association (PGMO) have to hide, which does not have to be hidden in Germany?

The only logical answers are

a) There is corruption in the English game which does not exist in Germany

b) There is incompetence in the English game in terms of refereeing which does not exist in Germany

c) Both a) and b)

6 Replies to “Incompetence or corruption? Why referees in England behave so differently from those in Germany.”

  1. It certainly seems that Liverpool are the media’s favourites to take this years title and are backing them to the hilt.
    We shall have to watch how they get treated by pgmol and the papers.
    I can’t see any way that Webb will soften their ring of silence as their hold on football depends on it.
    If the governing bodies were above suspicion ( FIFA and EUFA ) then you might correlate their not choosing English referees for their major tournaments as being that they don’t trust them either , But that is supposition

  2. I note, with considerable concern, that the word “sane” is used (vaguely, I admit) in the context of Premier League referees. Please refrain from such absurdities, it is highly offensive to anybody in possession of a working brain cell!!

  3. There is corruption in the English media. There is incompetence in the English media.

  4. I see that GNev is at it again, blaming Arsenal and Liverpool for Forest having written to PGMOL about perceived refereeing injustices after the Ivan Toney Foam Incident. GNev has a short memory, given the texts and phone calls between his previous boss and Halsey one year after Neville’s retirement as a player.

  5. porter

    Despite Liverpool fans’ protestations to the contrart, and the media’s incessant coverage of the very occasional decisions that go against them, the PGMO ARE treating Liverpool favourably in many ways.

    Think of Man City’s disallowed second goal against them, Jordan Ayew’s cards in their match at Selhurst Park, their winner against Fulham when Tsimikas commits a foul before the shot is taken, 2 penalties vs Newcastle while the Geordies were denied one themselves, not conceding at least one penalty against us at Anfield (Havertz, Saka), Dalot receiving the ‘Michael Oliver Gabriel Martinelli Special’,plus their players’ immunity against yellow cards.

    Add to that Simon Hooper and Anthony Taylor’s intervention stopping Man City scoring a winner vs Spurs, Michael Oliver giving the 4 key decisions in our defeat to West Ham in the away team’s favour, Liverpool fans Peter Bankes and Jarred Gillett officiating in games of their potential rivals for the title.

    Indeed, 5 referees on the PGMO support…Liverpool!

    If they don’t win the title, Jurgen Klopp should be sacked

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