Referee association even more secret than PGMOL, emerges from the shadows as controlling body



By Tony Attwood

As we all know, when a referee, or indeed the back up referees running VAR, make a mistake, the most anyone can get out of PGMO is a shrug of the shoulders.  There is no question of a replay.  So when Mikel Arteta called Newcastle’s winning goal against Arsenal in November last year, the media made fun of Arteta’s anger, and refused to blame PGMO for its errors.

Thus the media went on to label Arteta’s protest speech  a “rant” although video evidence showed that although there was a triple VAR check which declared nothing was wrong, the ball clearly had gone out of play and Gabriel had clearly been pushed in the back.

To be fair it is not just Arsenal who have suffered in this way.   When Tottenham Hotspur beat Liverpool with a last minute goal, the video assistant referee also completely failed to realise that the Luis Diaz was not offside.  

So it seems that VAR rulings like referee ruling are sacrosanct.  Except now we find they are not quite as sacrosanct as we thought as the Telegraph has reported on a match in which there was a video assistant referee error is to be replayed in full following an appeal.

Thus once again we see PGMO demands for secrecy still running strong England, and indeed the dominant force in the game, while in Belgium a certain understanding that mistakes can and do happen is reaching football.  Except, as we discovered on investigating this matter, there is more to it than that.

Now we know that in the Belgium there has been the case the ex-Leicester keeper, Kasper Schmeichel, who saved a penalty, but then a second player followed up to score, as we have all seen many times on the pitch.  However VAR showed that there were no fewer than three players (aside from the penalty taker and the keeper) inside the penalty area when the kick was taken   

Two of those players were from the defending team and one from the attacking team and I suspect many of us don’t quite know what the rules say in that situation.  But referees are paid to know, as are the VAR operatives, and the rules say, take the kick again.

Seemingly the Belgium referee’s association, (the name of which I am sorry to say I don’t know, but Walter if you are reading, please help me out) said that the event was a VAR error, for which there is no penalty, punishment or any form of sorting out by the authorities.

But Genk took the view that this was a misapplication of the laws of the game, for which there should be a replay and took the matter to the Disciplinary Council for Professional Football.

And this is where it gets murky, because although lots of news outlets have repeated that Genk referred the matter to the Disciplinary Council, the Disciplinary Council itself appears to be rather difficult to find.  After hours of searching, I still don’t know  where that is, who is on it, how it is made up, when it meets, where it is, who elected people to it, or anything else.

And I find this quite interesting because I couldn’t see any of the media reports that mentioned this matter go on to explain what the Council is, where it meets etc etc, but as we have noted so many times in the past the notion of journalistic curiosity seems to have vanished when it comes to football.   If someone makes a statement, accept it.

I am not suggesting there is no such thing as the Disciplinary Council for Professional Football, but I am interested to know if it follows the PGMO model (or vice versa and PGMO follows the DCPF) by having no web site and making no public statements. And if so, why.

And come to that why didn’t a single report tell us if this is just a Belgium thing, or a Uefa organisation, or … well what?

And as there seem to be virtually no statements about the Council before this event another thought occurs.  Was the Council invented just to overcome this single problem?  Does it really exist at all?  

And most of all, how come all these journalists are writing about it, as if it is well-known and well-established, when it seems to be something of a mystery?

And (just to have a third paragraph starting with “and”) why are all the mysteries and secret organisations in football to do with refereeing?

I think we should be told.

3 Replies to “Referee association even more secret than PGMOL, emerges from the shadows as controlling body”

  1. I’m certain our 7-1 drubbing in the FA youth Cup didnt happen ,
    because I, as the sole repRESENTative of
    Arsenal Judgements and Rulings (AJAR)
    Have decided that a replay is necessary , that is my final decision, see that this official ruling and judgement call is expedited asap .
    If you think this is ludicrous then read the above article again and ask yourself which one is grounded in reality.
    Herbert Chapman’s ghost.

  2. Tony, Another excellent article however I think it would be fair to point out that the Referees Association in the UK is not party to or involved with the Belgian organisation you mention in your article. The RA is involved with referees at all levels seeking to help and provide guidence to referees and I would argue that this is an open and valuable organisation.

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