Referees’ smokescreen impresses no one and answers no questions about corruption

By Tony Attwood

Even Sir Alex F Word wasn’t impressed by what the referees have been saying as they have tried to deflect attention away from the growing mountain of evidence that the Premier League is fixed.

At least I think he wasn’t impressed.  As with many of the commentaries of Sir F Word it is not clear what he is saying, which is why many people who watch BBC TVs coverage of football have been quietly chuffed that the old chunterer has been removed from the airways for a considerable amount of time.

Untold Arsenal has produced a load of evidence that suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the way referees work in the Premier League.  There’s a complete index to the articles in the series, as well as a link to the BBC article which took note of and quoted our concerns.

What the Premier League and its referees could have done is answered the factual points we have raised, on issues such as the number of referees used and the low level of accuracy of some referees.  It could have kept still and said and done nothing.

But it has done neither.  What it has done is tried to lay down a smokescreen by blaming the managers and the players.  This is quite obviously daft since it is not the players nor the mangers that actually referee the games.  It is the referees.  (I know, that’s a fairly stupid statement, but when you consider the context of the allegations raised by ourselves and the BBC, and by the weekly commentary on the BBC of the poverty of the refereeing in the EPL, it needs saying.)

Discussing a nearby but unrelated subject is a commonplace way of trying to distract interested parties from what is going on.  And because much of the media has such a vested interest in the Premier League being seen as clean, and not subject to wholesale corruption, they meekly follow like sheep.

So, here we have the insanity of it all.  Evidence is presented that something is very wrong.  The EPL doesn’t answer any of the points raised, and instead announces a crackdown on “unacceptable” behaviour by players and managers towards referees.  Any investigation into the quality of refereeing?  No.

Instead abuse of match officials, the surrounding of referees, unacceptable criticism of officials and trying to get opponents punished will all be targeted.  I am reminded of certain north African and middle eastern states in which the autocratic rulers say that it is impossible to have democracy in their parts of the world because of the unfounded criticisms made by the opposition of the good work of the government.

You can almost see the barricades going up around Referees House.   “A word against us,” they say, “and you will be removed from the playing field.”   Fortunately Untold doesn’t play much anymore, and it is hard to shut the internet down.

The Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “The clubs backed the idea that at the start of next season we want to raise the bar, we want to improve behaviour.

“I think we do need to concentrate on the player and manager relationship with the referee this time, as every one of us knows that there have been elements of unacceptable behaviour.

“As to what we think is unacceptable; it’s vitriolic abuse towards match officials and that has on occasions gone unpunished; the surrounding of referees is unacceptable; the goading of referees into trying to get opponents sanctioned we think is unacceptable; and also the undue criticism, where it spills over into questioning the referee’s integrity or his honesty is also unacceptable.”

Now that is interesting, because it says that the clubs backed the idea.  Certainly if you are in a club that has got a number of referees in your pocket, criticism of the referees is the last thing you want.

Scudamore also said, “The debate will come and we will have it in consultation with managers, and remember the managers are also employed by the clubs so the unanimous support of the clubs today is important.”   Which is interesting because elsewhere he spoke of a unanimous agreement on the issue.  It seems rather like some middle Eastern countries it is possible to know the result of the election before the election is held.

Sir F Word’s response to all this was that, “Richard Scudamore doesn’t have a lot to do, does he?

“He’s trying to elevate the Premier League. Fine. That’s good, that’s his job. But I don’t think managers disrespect referees. I get done for what I considered was fair comment, the FA didn’t, and they give me a five-match ban, that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean to say we don’t respect referees. It’s a difficult job, we all know that. You wouldn’t referee a game, would you? Neither would I. But we do need them.  I do think Richard is jumping off a high board here – a high diving board – without thinking about it.”

Well, yes, I might agree, if I actually knew what that lot meant.  It is one of those sets of sentences where individually they might mean something, but if you put them all together they have as much chance of clarity as Wayne Rooney on heat.

This web site has presented analysis after analysis of everything from individual matches, to the statistical tendency of referees to favour certain sides, from the odd way in which the referees’ association organises referees to the way in which Fifa and the FA can’t even agree what the rules are and who can do what.  Someone somewhere might want to put together a coherent answer to these points.

Or perhaps not.

Hazard: the golden boy.  Or not?

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27 Replies to “Referees’ smokescreen impresses no one and answers no questions about corruption”

  1. boomerangs painted with darrens’ face from villa are jealous. i mean dont the goals already have cameras in them? but goal line tech? noooooo no no no noooo.
    hierarchy answer to no one.

  2. With respect when are you going to comment on Mr Wenger’s poor judgement of player’s (Almunia, Denilson, Squillaci, Eboue, Rosicky to name just a few) and stubborn refusal to buy quality experienced players. I used to enjoy your articles but like Mr Wenger you seem to be blaming everyone except where the issue lies…in Mr Wenger. The clock is ticking on his tenure…

  3. @ Sensible Opinion. I do not find your opinion to be sensible. AW is paid a king’s ransom by Arsenal; if he left Arsenal he would have a choice of jobs paying millions. Yet you think it sensible to say that your judgement of players is better than his? Your judgement may be better than mine, but is most unlikely to be better than his.

    Tony, with respect, when are you going to comment on your poor judgement of whom to allow to comment on your site.

  4. I thought that Scudamore’s description of the criticism of referees as being “unjustified” was priceless and indicative of his stance on the matter. In other words, refs can do no wrong and any criticism of them is wrong. This is plainly complete rubbish and should be questioned at every opportunity. It was this frame of mind that got us where we are today.

  5. Cape Gooner…as a season-ticket holder I am fully entitled to express my opinion on an Arsenal website…as you are. Tony, is it the school holidays already?

  6. Hopefully the inquiry into Football Governance by the House of Commons will highlight the need for stronger management within the sports governing body, The FA. Whether the inquiry has the power to implement reform remains to be seen but clearly changes need to be made.

    Richard Scudamore answers to no-one, the Premier League chief runs the rule over The FA and firmly holds the balance of power in the English the game. He has the power, the absolute power and we all know what evils that kind of scenario can entail.

    Mr Scudamore obviously believes its time to act, to show our ministers that football is perfectly capable of keeping its own house order and doesn’t need any outside intervention. That’s all well and good but where has he been all season long, where was the righteous Mr Scudamore when W Rooney smashed his arm into his opponents face at Wigan recently?
    Why wasn’t “the bar on improved behaviour” mentioned after that particularly violent outburst?

    I fear the EPL has become inherently stained, tarnished by the fat-cat corporates whose own selfish interests continue to jeopardise the whole ethos of the sport. The game is leaving a nasty taste in the mouth, the playing field is far from level and yet I feel the only rational debate on the subject is found on websites like Untold.

    As far as the media is concerned on the matter, ignorance is bliss.

  7. Sensible Opinion. As Tony has repeatedly pointed out, you are entitled to express an argued opinion. You simply make a statement that requires acceptance of the highly unlikely premise that your judgement is superior to that of Wenger.

    We concentrate a lot on the performance of refs when Arsenal plays. Is it possible that our players were dispirited by the ref at the MU game? They should have been down to 10 men while 2:0 down. They also got a penalty that was silly. The website stretfordendarising has the headline “West Ham have reason to be furious with the ref”.

  8. @Tasos

    How much faith do you put in the non corruptibility of MPs? If it really is as big a fix as we think, and is obviously worth truckloads of money, surely some ‘donations’ to the campaign cause would put any drastic measures to rest?

  9. @ Sensible Opinion

    Fear not, your nickname is completely in accordance with what you write. What you should know is that this site is sometimes more about conspiracy theories and less about football. The strangest thing is that when Mr Tony or Mr Walter actually decide to write about football, they produce exceptional articles. I’m waiting on a good one about where the season has gone wrong for us (football-wise not fixing-wise) and a proposed summer transfer strategy that could strengthen our squad.

    Of course it may be too early for this. I am not completely convinced that we are out of the title just yet. And it seems that IF by any chance we win the title, we woulh have won a fixed championship, is that right? I am sure that every Arsenal fan would love that…

  10. Mike,
    if we would win a fixed league that would be awesome 😉

    And yes it is way to early to talk about what should be done in the summer. Or wat went wrong? Did it all go wrong already or can we still win it?
    We still got over almost 7 weeks of football to go.

    And we have won the league before at the last minute so everything is possible as long as it is possible.

  11. Slightly off topic, though still staying within the theme of corruption in sports, it isn’t just FIFA or the FA that function this way. Basically all sports bodies do, including the biggest, The International Olympic Committee.

    Right now they are threatening to throw India out of the Olympics, basically because the government is making efforts to curb corruption, the huge scale of which was exposed by the investigations into the Commonwealth Games. The proposed Sports Development Bill envisages limits to tenure of office-bears and puts an age bar of 70 for them to be eligible to continue or contest.It also proposes a Sports Ombudsman who will arbitrate in matters of dispute.

    While the IOC contends this as interference in the sports federations, the Govt points to the recent court ruling that held that sports associations are public bodies, and perform public functions. So they cannot hide behind the cover of autonomy. The IOC’s own charter holds that sports federations have to conform to the laws of the land, and court rulings. Yet they now say that the government can only advise or suggest these criteria.

    Despite this, the archery, athletics, boxing, badminton, even football federations have accepted it. The Indian Olympic Association (whose President is the main accused in the corruption) has not commented on it so far, but are in talks with the IOC.

    Now why I’m writing this here is, that the Court ruling (which I’ve mentioned before) has had a knock on effect on other sports and more likely than not, will make them cleaner, and more accountable. Maybe it would be possible for someone to approach a UK court for a similar hearing?

  12. Sensible opinion, I think your comment is a bit off topic. But for every name you give I can give another name of a player in which Wenger had a great judgement of a player. In fact I think there are mot succes stories than failures when it comes to Wenger judging players.
    And lets take Eboue. He is a backup player. Name me one backup right back better than Eboue who is willing to sit on the bench with a big smile on his face, not complaining, feeling happy, celebrating when the team scores a goal and when called upon still can do a fairly good job. Remember Eboue was in the team when we beat Barcelona at home.

  13. Shard

    Ultimately everyone is susceptible to corruption.

    My hope is born from the Football Federations in other countries, notably Italy and Germany that have managed to weed out the guilty parties and then administer the appropriate penalties in recent times. Although I wont be holding My breath, its difficult to see where any improvements can be imposed if this inquiry fails to recognise and then implement reform at The FA.

    Certainly reform will not come from within the governing body, the equivalent of turkeys voting for Christmas.

  14. We all watch football and I’m sure we definately all watch the Arsenal games. Live or on TV.In doing so we all see how good/bad the current batch ot referee’s are. I think you need to look back at least a decade or so to remember honest/fair referee’s. Maybe there is just too much money in the game these days and some of it is finding it’s way into their hands? Maybe it’s that football is such a global success now that the referees are under so much pressure they get it wrong?I ‘m always of the mindset that the team should just play to the best of their abilities and hopefully if a poor decision goes against them then try a little harder. I know very simplistic
    I don’t think anyone in charge of the referees are ever going to come out and tell us that the referees are rubbish!
    @ sensible onion ( spelt correctly) did you read the heading at the top of the page? If your expecting Tony or Walter or anyone else who write for this website to critise Arsene Wenger then you’re on the wrong website. There are tons of them out there all saying what your saying so why not go and jog on and join them.
    I liked the line ” the clock is ticking on his tenure” ? WOW you must be the chairman or biggest share holder at Arsenal if you kmow the clock is ticking or maybe you are in fact just another disgruntled supporter who wants to whine about his beloved Arsenal because he’s unhappy. There’s still a few more games to play you know. Have a little faith!
    I suppose it’s easier moaning here than moaning at the wife?
    GOONER FOR LIFE. Regardless who plays.

  15. @ Sensible and walter

    I do not think that Arsene has a problem in choosing quality players to buy. On the contrary he has a great sense for talent and if he buys someone (whether he is a youth prospect or not) chances are that he would be a really great player. In fact, in that aspect (judging a player’s quality before buying him) he is the best manager I’ve ever known. For me, the problem lies in the overall trasfer policy but as I am off topic again, I won’t elaborate on that at the moment but wait for the summer.

    As for Eboue, I completely agree with Walter. He has hardly accomplished what we expected of him when he appeared but, hey, name one team that has a better backup right back than him. I mean, for God sake, Madrid has Arbeloa!!! 😀

  16. “Even Sir Alex F Word wasn’t impressed by what the referees have been saying as they have tried to deflect attention away from the growing mountain of evidence that the Premier League is fixed.”

    But if it is fixed, it can only be fixed in his favour. He’s clearly just trying to get his players angry, and give them the feeling they’re having to overcome adversity.

    @Sensible Opinion – Does wenger have to be perfect? Is ferguson perfect? (I’ll say it again) Utd have avoided at least 9 CLEAR red cards this year – do you not think that makes a difference!?

  17. @ Sensible onions:

    Please enlighten us by completing your list of arsenal sub-standard (international star ) players, seeing as you obviously only touched the tip of the ice-berg with your little list.
    Then regarding your litle blacklist, tell me which team has a better 3rd choice gk, 4th choice dm, 4th choice (experienced international) cb, 2nd choice rb , and 5th choice attacking midfielder ( &experienced international and captain of the Cech R ).
    Or is that not sensible enough for an onion

  18. Respect is not merely given, it is earned. The FA wants the players to be respectful, then the referees must show that they, too, respect the game. This means you, Mike “Vladimir Putin’s Even More Evil Twin” Dean. And you, Phil “I Can Steal Your Win Even At 4-0 and There’s Not a Thing You Can Do About It” Dowd. And you, Howard “I the F— Am Man United” Webb.

  19. @a sensible opinion & mike greece
    if walter and tony wanted to write articles critical of wenger, i am only guessing here, but i think it would be impossible. why, because the sort of criticism that would make you happy, is impossible to write when you have an understanding of the clubs goals, i am disappointed to hear that even as a season ticket holder and what with all the programmes you have leafed through it still hasn’t gotten through your skull that this project is long term and very different from what i suspect you want.
    Change for the sake of it is not always the solution to every problem and neither is throwing money around,e.g a another Ugandan goon i know voted the conservatives in and was promptly sacked from his job providing frontline services in social services- rather read the manifesto, he read the Sun- served him right i thought!.
    Also to answer your question as to why tony and walter are not writing article slating our club and players- they unlike others you may have read are supporters of our club not nitwits!

  20. @Sensible Opinion

    Not sure whay you felt the need to post your comment in reply to this article. If you want to write a piece, of similar or better quality to those who write for the site, I am sure that The Boss ™ will run his eye over it, and decide whether it conforms to the ethos of the site and publish it if appropriate.

    Please, do that, rather than simply trolling on here

  21. Walter, I watched a game this season and was amazed when a fan ran onto a football pitch and hit a player. Not something I condone but I wont be surprised if someone runs on and decks a referee one of these days.

    @sensible opinion
    I think rosicky over the years played ok, Eboue is fine as cover he isnt doing anything wrong and showed that against Barca. Squillachi is fine when playing with anyone expect Kos they just dont work together but plays well with Djour and probably will be fine with Vermallen.
    Almunia is on his way out and Denilson is probably walking a tight rope BUT Denilson was here because of our youth policy due to having no cash building a new stadium.

    You say your a season ticket holder and that makes you entitled to comment I agree BUT it doesnt mean your comment has any basis what so ever its more like pure drivel.

    Its not what you do in life its how you do it ….that applies to supporters as well as footballers 🙂 and every other thing we do.

  22. @Redgoonner – imo denilson is a very talented player and is massively underperforming at arsenal. He has shown on occasion what a good player he can be, but why is it I only ever see him sprinting in games against Utd or barca? Personally I think he needs to leave in order to better himself. I say that with no malice because I think he’s a decent guy, but he seems to have gotten too comfortable at arsenal. I think it’s partly caused by the way we have consistently rewarded players like him with pretty hefty contracts before they’ve really proven their worth to the side.

  23. @Davi
    I think Denilson is a very talented player too, it’s a real shame to see him lose his mojo. I think all the unfair criticism he’s got has affected him, and it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The best thing for him now is probably to leave Arsenal for regular football and where he doesn’t have a section of fans moaning and groaning at every little thing he does, draining his confidence, and hampering his development.

    Our rejigged midfield doesn’t do him any favours either, there’s no longer a position that really suits his abilities. He’s not a ‘destroyer’, but he isn’t particularly creative either.

  24. Davi and Wrenny
    When it comes to Denilson I honestly dont have a great deal to say on him. I have seen him play some decent games in his time at Arsenal but for most of this season he seems to have lost his way.
    I thought lately his confidence was gone also his positional play and passing he seems really out of sorts. Rosiscky also has been effected similarly this season.
    Im not sure if its down to not playing many games etc.

    But I look at a lot of other clubs and I think the players from the bench seem to play better than a few of ours. I think they are fighting more for their positions than Denilson looks to be anyway. Rosiscky does seem to fight even if doesnt come off right now for him.

    Thats not knocking Denilson, I dont know if he will or wont make it Arsenal to be honest.

  25. So England and Trash United,s finest Rayne Wooney smashes his foream into another player,s jaw ,swears at the matchday cameras
    covering the match and his manager doesn,t want to comment during a live questions and answers session.The inept ref for the recent West Ham vs Trash.United match fails to give a straight red card to Vidic,last defender between Carlton Cole and a certain 3rd West Ham goal while grabbing the striker around the waist ,so who,s fooling who as the Premier League trop
    hy seems destined for the Theatre of Tears ,once again,fortunat
    ely not all supporters other than those of the red half of Manche
    ster are blind and stupid ?

  26. Its all a tad amusing as we already have rules in place to deal with bad language and intimidating behaviour, As all Mr Scud (short ranged and inaccurate) is saying is “the current refs are not applying the rules correctly”. Laughable really.

  27. I think what Tony and Walter are helping to uncover are hopeless inadequacies in the whole system of refereeing in top level football. The problem of poor officiating is endemic in football- it is especially poor in England- very fast, very physical football- all played in semi hysterical conditions- huge money at stake- and referees receive peanuts and dogs abuse.
    It is hard to understand why Manchester United are so consistently favoured by referees if corruption is not a factor. The truth is a team has to be substantially better than them in order to win the league in order to compensate for biased officials like Webb and Riley.
    Scudamore is in denial- he seems to be claiming that the only problem is people will not accept without question consistently biased and grossly incompetent decision making. He IS the problem.
    Scudamore’s idiocy is leading down the road of the courts. How long will it be before there is a legal challenge to a grossly unfair decision which has massive consequences for the club on the receiving end?

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