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By Walter Broeckx
Sometimes the sound of silence makes more noise than 60.000 in the Emirates.
Somewhere in March I had the idea of writing a study. A study on the world of referees.
It would be a study ready to publish in a book. As Tony knows a few things about books and publishing I would be using his knowledge and help and see if the book could be published.
Yes, parts of the study would be published on Untold Arsenal but I had something in mind that would go much further than one article on Untold. No with what I had in mind I think I could fill a whole month with an article a day on Untold. But at the end of that month our readers would know all and everything there is to know on how the referee world works.
The main idea was to write a study on how all the different national football federations have organized their refs. And this from the grassroots level to the international level. How the education was done, how long, how much, physical demands to refs, …you name it, I had a question about it. Okay maybe not on everything because the more questions the more people will not respond. So we had to avoid that.
I would make tables, compare the countries, see how most countries work, see how Uefa refs work and how they are proposed by their national federations. And words to explain all the answers I got. And more words on how we can see some things and what could be done better by some countries and praise some countries for their approach. And at the end of my study I would come up with some of my own ideas and try to point at a system that could be regarded as the best possible way on how to work with the refs.
It was a bit of an ambitious project, if I may say so. So I did what was needed and hired a person to write a letter that we would send to all the national football federations who are a member of Uefa. From the biggest countries like England, Germany, France, Spain to the smallest ones like San Marino, Liechtenstein, and other Far Oer isles. Thus the letter was written by a professional in those things and I must say it was a very impressing letter. It said in much better words than those on here what I intended to do. And that was to paint a complete picture of the referee world in football. And maybe to improve the ref world in general and maybe that some of the working methods that some federations used could be used by other countries to improve their way of working.
And then I made a questionnaire to make sure that all the federations got the same questions and could provide the answers to it. I also pointed out that if they thought some information was too secret they could let me know they could not answer a specific question or set of questions.
And then I sent the letter to all the federations. Together with the questionnaire of course. I also mentioned the fact that I am a referee myself gave them the information about myself a bit. And I also offered to send them a questionnaire in another language if they couldn’t understand English.
So halfway March I send out all the letters. And then the waiting began. Who would react first? Well the first reaction came from Denmark. Credit to them. And they wrote to me: “It is however the policy of the Danish FA that we only participate in surveys when they are conducted by a national association. Consequently it is not possible for us to answer your questions.”
Okay not the answer I would have like to read but this could well be the policy in Denmark so who am I to disturb their policy? But it showed that they had received my letter and questionnaire, read the letter and understood it. And that they had the courtesy to reply. That was a start.
And now after some 3 months I can let you know that I received … zero answers. So there will be no study. There will be no comparing of how the different football federations work with their refs. No tables, no ideas. The study I had in mind can be summarized in the next paragraph.
The empty space was the study and the summary. Thank you for your attention. See you in the comment section.
Back serious now as my bad character then made me ask a few questions. Why do football federations refuse to answer me? Apart from federations like San Marino I think most of them work in a professional way. They have a president, a board, staff members, people who work for the federations. But none of them, apart from the Danish Federation, even found the time to write me a letter saying sorry we can’t answer the questions for any kind of reason. I had my email included so they could even have send me an email so it would cost them nothing. Apart from the few seconds time to write a mail.
Or I asked myself has it something to do with my person? Am I a person non grata somewhere? A person you don’t speak with? Has this something to do with Untold? I considered it but then again…this would be too far fetched I thought. I can’t imagine all the national federations saying: watch out, this is Walter Broeckx from Untold better not speak to him. No, this would be a too big honour I think.
And then I asked myself: is there something to hide? Is it that the federations for some reason want to keep this all behind closed doors? Are those things that they want to keep far away from the public? Is this not saying how they operate, a way of being able to work how they want? Because if they say: ‘we do it this way or that way’ then maybe some people could come out and say: ‘now wait a minute because this theory is all fine and well but look at this where you have done it the other way’.
Is this how football federations like to work? Not in the open but in the closed back room? Possible entrance only for the real insiders? A simple and polite letter, like the Danes did, could have been enough for me. But now I just think it’s a shame because now we cannot compare how the federations work.
Why don’t they bother to answer? Even a negative answer would have been fine. But still, they are not willing to answer a ref his questions. Not even to a ref that wants to make a study about the referee world? Not even my own football federation answered me. But the way they act and work in general, it didn’t surprise me that much to be honest.
Or is there something to hide? Is it really so that they want to stay in the dark about the refs? Well so be it. I tried to shed some light in these matters.
It was their almost unanimous choice to not work with me on this that concerns me. Either the national football federations are organisations who don’t even have the politeness to answer to a letter or they don’t give a f*ck about the rest of the outside world. And if this is the case then we can conclude that in this they all are the same. Ah, so finally we did learn something: “we will do our business like we want to do it and with no one watching us too close”. That could be the summary of my study on the ref world.