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June 2021

New Fufa head of the refs: what will change?

Untold Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

By Walter Broeckx

In a few articles (maybe more than you could bear) I have been talking about referees.  And I have even written a complete series on all different kind of reasons why a referee can be biased in some games. I think I wrote it down in some 6 or 7 different articles. Somewhere half way the season that was.

And maybe some of you will remember that I said that one reason for showing a bias in a game could be the reward thing. I know how those things work in my country; I have seen and heard enough. To described it in short: a ref knows (or is told) that if he favours a certain team he will get some kind of reward. A ref’s career in the highest divisions is rather short (10 to 15 years maximum) just like any player his career. A ref only gets to the top in a country when he is around 30 years old (if he is a quick learner) and if you know that the top refs have to stop at 45 years old according to Fifa regulations you understand that they have just a short period to get to the top of the top.

So to get at the top of the top you must get the support of your local FA or ref organization. In England the PGMOL. And as a result the refs will try their best to be good friends with the head of this organization. And as most of you know the head of the refs in the PGMOL is Mike “I’ll stop your unbeaten run at Old Trafford” Riley. He is in fact a great example on how to make a career by doing what the big man likes you to do.

So Riley stopped our unbeaten run and he got rewarded with being boss of the PGMOL. In fact this was a very bright move from the persons in charge of the FA and the PGMOL, because they knew Riley was reliable (by letting United getting away with murder and giving a penalty for a Rooney dive) and Riley knew that he had to stay on this line in the future to keep his position.

As a result the refs in the PGMOL, who are not stupid, know what to do in order to get a great job after their short career at the top: do what Riley has done and the reward will come.

This is the way it goes in many countries. Good relations with people in power are vital to get a good reward.

And then you see that the next chief of the PGMOL, (when Riley will be promoted to another important job), will be Howard Webb or even Phil Dowd. This will depend on the fact if Webb gets a bigger job offered by Uefa or Fifa in the next years when he reaches the end of his career. Don’t expect a ref to become head of the PGMOL who has good statistics in Arsenal games. This is the way things go in ref land.

Last year we had the scandal at Porto where the ref literally gave the ball and a goal to Porto against all the rules and the instructions from Fifa and Uefa. I then wrote an article and said that this ref would be rewarded with a place at the world cup later that year. And I was right. He went but he then made a mess of his game and they had to send him home.

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So when I read in the press that Busacca was named head of the refs in Fifa I wasn’t surprised at all. In fact it is very much in line with the things I have written in recent years.  The only surprise was that Busacca who is only 42 years old still had a few years to go as a ref before he had to retire as a Fifa ref. He could have had another European Championship and maybe even could have gone to the next world cup. So the fact that he stopped as a ref now is the only thing that surprised me. The timing, not his promotion.

Because I just felt that he would get his reward for what he has done. Because also at Uefa and Fifa they work in the same way as in the English FA and the PGMOL: they reward the refs that help them achieving their goals. They give them a high job and the refs are sure that the money keeps on pouring in. Do what we like you to do and you will get a reward.

And then I quote the words of Sepp Blatter the whiter than white president of Fifa who will clean up the corruption in Fifa (that’s me in sarcastic mode). I just wonder how it could be possible that under his presidency he never knew that there was corruption in Fifa until recently? Maybe not that good a president after all? But with what I have written in recent years for Untold and with the points made in this I am hoping you will see the need to look beyond the words themselves…

Blatter said: “Massimo Busacca’s experience will prove to be particularly useful to our mission and to our efforts to continue the groundwork we have put in place with the confederations and member associations in this particularly important area. I am very happy that he has joined us.”

Yeah I bet he is happy he joined them and he will continue “the groundwork” in this area. It just means: we have a man who knows what to do, will do it and we are happy we have him in the bag.  So if anyone thought of a possible change in the refs in the next decade…just forget it. It will be business as usual. Just do what we like (help the powerful) and we will reward you.

Match fixing scandal and corruption issues…

Match Fixing: Latest on the arrests in Turkey and Greece

The Italian scandal keeps coming back

A call to arms; let us sort out this refereeing issue once and for all

The big European study of refs reveals something rather sinister

Refs and scandals: the problem spreads across the world

The complete index of the Match Fixing Scandal in the Premier League is now here.  You might like also to note that the BBC has picked up on our story and is now running it here – including interviews with Walter and Dogface.

Untold Index

48 comments to New Fufa head of the refs: what will change?

  • Dark Prince

    It will be business as usual i guess. But what eventually will win us the titles will be our own performance on the pitch. So we jus need to up our game.

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Hey Walter:

    Again a great article teaching us all about refrees. Although u have taught half of these things already before. Is it not possible to file a case against these refs for incompetence if not corruption. You might be knowing about any such case already.


    So do you think that this whole campaign is a waste. Or do you want us all to ignore it and keep playing like nothing happened.

  • para

    Different topic.

    Please do an article on the effect of the Cesc saga on AFC during the last 2 seasons.
    It seems to me this is something that no one seems to consider, and as i think, was a major happening.
    I see the comments on Terry’s infidelity, and to me i see similarities between him and Cesc.
    Cesc is married to AFC and flirts with Barca, even sleeping with them(the gifted goal).
    Maybe i’m going too far here, but having a captain who has dedicated his life to another team, cannot be good for AFC and the other players in any way. I don’t think ANY other team would have put up with that, and for nearly 3 seasons?

  • steww

    Excellent article Walter. Your insight to the world of refereeing is invaluable to those of us without the same direct experience and understanding.
    To those who pretend to support the team and prefer to blame our staff and players rather than our enemies can I suggest one thing? Look again at the whole, unedited match against Newcastle and observe the inconsistency and downright bias and influence of the referee and how that was the single biggest factor in the final result.
    Or are you happier to blame Diaby for reacting to yet another career threatening assault?

  • steww

    He’s our captain, under contract. Never given less than 100%. End of story.

  • Dark Prince

    @Abhishek Kumar- i believe that if anyone over here can do something about it, then do it. Talkin about it a thousand times wont change it. But if you think it cannot be changed, then its better to improve ourselves rather than making it an excuse.

  • steww

    DP Why are you so ready to dismiss facts as excuses and then blame the team you claim to support?
    Do you own a dictionary? Look up the word support. Actually I’ll save you the trouble

       [suh-pawrt, -pohrt]
    to bear or hold up ; serve as a foundation for.
    to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
    to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.

  • Shard


    Talking about it is the only way to change it. Slow change is better than not talking about it and hence being part of the cover up. Also, there is no conflict with making the team stronger there. Of course we have to improve. That will always be true, even if we win the quadruple. To not improve, to stand still, is actually to fall behind. The team has to improve, the fans have to improve, and the refs have to improve. We should talk about all of that. Why not?

  • mike in Atlanta

    dark prince should consider renaming himself. how many times would you take a kick in the shins and just hobble along quietly? saying you can’t play as well because your shin bone is bruised is a statement of fact, not an excuse. am i being too subtle here for the princely one?

    i was watching a davis cup match last night. there were three challenges at crucial points in the match. the hawkeye system worked as expected and all parties were satisfied. i know tennis fans tend to be a slightly more sophisticated set but does that mean that football fans are regarded as so unwashed that they don’t deserve technological assistance? do you really regard your team as winners of a game when the only goal you scored was from a penalty awarded because of a dive?

    i am happy to support a team that wins with the ball, not the loaded referee. i am, however, insulted that the rulers of the game are so in love with entrenched corruption and hold me in such low regard that they do not even care to assess a ref’s performance and regulate the unworthy.

    you can say what you want about american sports, but i can assure you, NFL supporters wouldn’t put up with football’s 19th century crap technology…a whistle and two flags.

  • Dark Prince

    @steww- on the contrary, i’m not dismissing any fact. I told the team should improve. Infact many of the Untold readers have stated in last few months that there are improvements in the team required. Does that mean they are not ‘supporters’??

    Grow up.

  • Dark Prince

    I agree when you say that the players and the refs should improve. But what i was tryin to say, not jus now, but from many months, is that the case of the refs are not in our hands and neither is it in the hands of the club or players. But the player’s performance is in the hands of the players themselves, so we have to bring change where it is possible. The refs wont change, and as the article suggested, the situation wont change in near future. So either we can get bogged down by it and give up or we can improve ourselves and win the title no matter what happens.

    Also rather than talking, i’d rather investigate into the matter and find credible proof and make a good submission to the concerned authorities, now thats a way to make the refs think twice. But till that time, we have to rely on our own performance to win the league, which i think is the logical thing to do.

  • Shard


    Which is what we will be doing obviously.. But not talking about it is no solution. talking about it may not do anything either. But it COULD. And since for the moment that is all we can do (apart from all the work that Walter and Dogface do of course) then I think we should. Silence is not the way forward in this. And it’s not like we’re advocating the team not do better, or that the team themselves are on here instead of training. I don’t think you should be undermining the work, or the fact that the ref bias/incompetence/corruption needs to be introduced into public debate and a fairer, more level playing field be demanded.

  • Dark Prince

    @Mike in Atlanta- wow, we’re doomed!! So we should jus give up on our season already, right??

    Also, whether its bruised or not, whether we fall once or a thousand times, true champions get up and march on after every set back. They dont bottle up.

    And yes, referees make mistakes, not just for Arsenal but for every team. But its too premature to claim it as some sort of conspiracy. They could be termed incompetant, but calling them biased is going way ahead.

    If i had a pound for everytime i said that….

    Also look back at our season, refs did cost us points, but it was our own defensive mistakes that cost us more, infact it cost us the Carling cup final. Also there have been times where we were benefitted with wrong decisions of the ref. So b4 making any accusations, pls check all the facts.

  • mike in Atlanta

    @Prince. You missed my point sir. I’m trying to say that declaring you have been kicked is a statement of fact, not an excuse. the refs are kicking us whether by intent or incompetence. and as walter pointed out, a ref can lose you a game no matter how good your team is.

    coupled with the neanderthal lack of technology in the game, we the customers are being treated to a reduced spectacle. how do you think track and field spectators would feel if there were no drug tests and everyone was whistling down the track in 9.3 seconds? after a while, they’d all say “this is some fake s—t” and stop watching.

    football fans should demand more. questionable calls must be investigated in the week following the match and referees should be penalized according to a points system. at the end of a season, demote the bottom three refs to the championships at a lower wage and promote the top three from that league.

    clubs and the sweet f.a. should demand at least goal-line technology be introduced right now! and the people who stand to lose the most, the betting companies, should be engaged in the discourse we are having so they can start demanding an investigation by the authorities just in case everyone is not being honest.

    if our players prove incompetent, we demand they be sold. so should we demand refs be relegated or dumped. i don’t want to see my team win a match aided by the hand of god any more than i want to lose a match because my forward is sent off for not hearing a whistle in a noisy stadium.

  • Anne

    @mike in Atlanta:

    I’m in Atlanta too. 🙂 Where do you watch Arsenal around here?

  • Anne

    Considering that Arsenal eliminating Barca from the CL in the round of 16 would have been a major event in football, I suppose that the ref’s performance merited a reward of equal magnitude for preventing that outcome.

    I still find it very interesting (and impressive) that Arsene Wenger actually came out and stated publicly before the CL draw that he already knew that Arsenal was going to be drawn against Barcelona. I suppose that the idea would have been to get Arsenal eliminated early.

    But lo and behold, Arsenal nearly ruined everything by outclassing Barcelona on the pitch and playing better football than them. Luckily Busacca was there to save the day. However, his intervention should not, on any level, diminish the pride that Arsenal fans ought to take in Arsenal’s performance during that tie.

    If not for the ref, Arsenal WOULD have eliminated Barcelona. So, although the ref unfortunately stole Arsenal’s chance for a CL title, I feel more than comfortable awarding Arsenal with the “best club in the world” title for their efforts.

    They won it fair and square, didn’t they? So, there’s a “trophy” for you Gooners. 🙂 Feel free to enjoy it for at least the next year. 🙂

  • bob

    DP back at it. The mission: try to ensure any words that might become something more than words – which can impact people at UA, people outside UA, and result in action. You wouldn’t know action if your own fingers went on strike, refusing to touch the keyboard to boycott your mind. You are here to drain energy and I find it sad that you sometimes succeed.

  • bob

    p.s. above should read: “try to ensure AGAINST any words….

  • bob

    After sneering away video replay, Bladder appoints this whore to preside over the bordello. Scratch that, those two give bordellos a bad name. I do admire Walter’s restrained prose, but I couldn’t be more on side with his sentiment. We’ll see if Tony can remain as restrained in his writing style when the other Selected Wise Man finds reasons to finally gut what little substance remains in FFP. Indeed, Platini will find words to say it’s in the interests of football that UEFA show “flexibility” in the (cough) application of its own well-intentioned principles. Nothing will bend the arc toward fair play on the pitch that’s anything short of a massive petition for specific reforms and/or a related fan boycott of merchandise or ticket purchases for even one game as a demonstration of what people are able to do. Then again, before then, the NOTW Scandal does spark some hope in that direction.

  • bob

    Mike in Atlanta,
    Amen. Amen. Amen.
    (please consider not wasting your time on that man’s mantra: he pretends to regret saying a zillion times that a true champion shakes it all off, that it’s only human nature to err, and refs are all too human… and on and on. It’s what he does. Drain energy. Discourage the kind of anger and focused activism that you so well express. His words are the hole beneath the waterline, as he invites all to paddle ferociously to stay afloat. The man is very bright, but revels in what he calls “devil’s advocacy” which, in my view, has the potential to discourage and de-activate other people’s words. There’s no bridging this gap, and hopefully you don’t waste too much, if any of your time, to find this out. It’s useless to reply. And as this season unfolds, like last season, there will surely be a time (more than one, assuredly) that makes it ripe for petitions and specific demands that some people hereabouts might be interested in pursuing. I can guarantee that this season, on the road to the RedNose 20th, the dire need for video replay plus – to defend our self-respect and table-position – will once demand our attention. It will not be a matter of human error, anti-foreign bias or wait a year until the league-wide study proves that something more than coincidence is at work under Platini, Bladder, Riley and the new creature, Basura is it?

  • bob

    That’s his whole: by draining energy, by serving as a lightning rod, by stirring a shit storm, it’s really a mission that ends in silence – in no action – a cheeky parlour game that exhausts, rather than stimulates. For me, as for him, it ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. Farewell light hamlet.

  • bob

    p.s. meant to say, better than light hamlet, any who continue to engage the phantom might consider addressing the creature as black hole, such is the effect hereabouts. Shard, I hope to see you on the other end, mate.

  • bob

    I’ve already bet the farm and tossed in my first born in a wager on footybet that Riley’s successor is Webb. Look, Dowd still needs a bit of fine-tuning, as a few too many eyes hereabouts have caught on to his act. A Dowd Watch would at least methinks keep in busier on the pitch where, though he’ll continue to break hearts as fast as rules, he’ll at least be kept away from anything close to matters of policy. Ah well, it does come down to pick your poison, so maybe I should put the farm on Webb and my first born on Dowd. If you have any inside information, I’m all ears.

  • mike in Atlanta

    Anne, i watch at home and online. i’m a bit of a recluse but would come out just for the sake of meeting a fair gooner. Bob thanks for the tip. responding to d. prince exercises my writing skills so he does serve some purpose.

    perhaps we should turn our minds to convincing the government it may be time to murdoch the referees.

  • Shard

    Right here mate.. About the media watch.. I think I’ve been waiting for a more concrete idea of what to do before I get started in earnest. Which paper would you rather I took up? (It was between the Mirror and the Daily Mail if I remember correctly) I still have to get to the research Dogface sent me. Anne, have you started on the second match yet?

  • bob

    I’ve been watching The Guardian, so I’m just staying with it. But anything that’s on is fair game, since it’s hard for anyone to see everything, even in one source. My view is having a primary focus and antennae for the rest. For my two cents, I think, after the Sun, the Daily Mirror is really key, so please consider it tops, or some of each of the two. Maybe the next person could adopt the Daily Mail. But Sky watching seems even more important that print media.

  • bob

    p.s. so many EPL squads are doing US friendly tours right now, with matches in the big cities this summer; which leads me to believe that EPL strategy is to make another go at a coordinated effort to “finally” getting the elusive secure foothold on the US public’s entertainment radar screen. What helps this time around is that the US women’s team is now in the women’s world cup final. in the recent past, US team success (the men’s, where Tim Howard and Landon Donovan were featured) helped a bit, but then the attention span (such as it is) faded away. this time, the EPL squads are here, in droves, whilst the US women are excelling. plus, a lot of grade school, high school and college teams, men’s and women’s, have been coming up – that is, a new generation. All this to say, in our present thread hereabouts, that Sky and Fox Soccer and ESPN are key to transatlantic perceptions of football – as in, wow, Wayne Rooney is sooooooo coooool, dude. I really hoped that there’d be more to cheer about in the US, from the Arsenal perspective, than Thierry Henry featuring for the somewhat average Red Bulls squad. With Arsenal playing the Red Bulls in New York, in addition to London, a home and away match, so to speak, there’d be more to fire the imagination in the media capital of America (NY, NY, that is).

  • bob

    p.p.s. part of where this just led me to is the thought that a home and away London-NY tie with the Red Bulls, featuring Thierry Henry as THE BRIDGE, would be my idea for an AFC media coup, and a missed opportunity. Yes, the Asia market, but why not do the NY/London/France connection thing, featuring our historically best player (along with your man, yep, Dennis B), as a way to achieve a serious footprint on the US media screen. TH would become a celebrity in the US, for a while; but which would help to put Arsenal Football on the US map which, until now, has been dominated by the ManUre/Fox combination. I think a sorely missed opportunity.

  • Finsbury

    Slightly off topic, but is there any truth to the stories alleging that players in the S. Korean league will be subject to lie detector tests?

    For some unfathomable reason.
    Obviously using lie detectors would be a lot cheaper and much more efficient that applying some, say goal line video tech like Hawkeye or any other tried and tested systems* from other sports to the league to help with whatever it is that they might need help with.

    I can sympathise with the officials, CCD video cameras must be very rare and expensive in Korea. And as cameras are so rare inside football grounds, it makes much more sense to bring in something completely different.
    FUFA, you’ve got to love ’em.

    * Perchance, stopwatches? A crazy suggestion, I know. In that mad sport cricket, they have had independent time keepers since the dawn of father time.

  • bob

    You raise a nice point. I couldn’t say about S.Korea, but is there any truth that the PGMOL will permitted lie detectors to be applied to referees during post-match ref press conferences? The reason is because, owing to current austerity measures, it is too costly to deploy video replay technology for EPL matches. Perhaps your antennae have picked this up as it is a bit closer to home than over there in S. Korea, where surely they know so little about electronics, as you seem to imply. Anyway, just checking in with you and your sources.

  • Finsbury

    There was a story on the Beeb about S.Korea, but I’m not sure how reliable it is.
    I’ve conducted some research and the PGMOL have stated that they ‘were not interested in any of these fancy dan foreign inventions’ like Video.
    It’d ruin the ‘flow of the game’.

    ‘The good old Rack is just as effective as any lie detector’ an official said in response to the S.Korean story.

    Please note, these quotes were taken from an unknown interview with someone who might have or might not have once worked for someone who just might know someone at the PGMOL. Given to a Catalan newspaper, whilst on holiday in Bora Bora. Or maybe they were just taken from any FA press conference over the last decade?
    I wouldn’t trust them (the quotes!).

  • bob

    Your sources say the Rack may be brought in. But, all seriousness aside, my sources say that the League is considering bringing in the Hangman, post-match, to deal with any referees who make “wrong calls” in this, the season of the Rednose 20th. Why? Because Sky has been able to secure a sponsor for broadcasting public hangings of these “errant” referees. And FA Riley and FIFA’s Basura and yes, Simon! will sit on the review board and give thumbs up or down on whether the trap door opens. Surely, Finsbury old boy, it is an idea whose time has come! None of that S. Korean thing. We’ll do it the right way. At least that’s what my sources are telling me. Back to you, Finsbury.

  • Anne

    @mike in Atlanta:

    Which part of the city do you live in? I’m in Smyrna/Vinings. I’ll be more than happy to meet up with you sometime.

  • Anne


    For Untold Media, please email me at What I’m actually trying to do now is to coordinate everyone who is planning to be working on this. We need to get back to Tony with a plan of all the when’s/where’s/how’s of what we’re going to be doing, and once I get the contact info for everyone who’s interested, I want to have a brainstorming session.

    And I still haven’t had the chance to get around to my second match. 🙂 And on top of all this, I’m writing a follow-up article to my last article. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew 🙂

  • finsbury

    Sorry, got distracted by a game of football.

    I had heard that the Hangman’s trapdoor didn’t survive the move of the F.A.’s H.Q. from Lancaster Gate to Soho. I may be dumb, but if I was to spend a few bazillion$ on purchasing a new H.Q. for an F.A., I’d chuck a football pitch in somewhere. Inside. On the roof. Anywhere.
    Anyway, back to these reports. I’ve always had the opinion that killing the floodlights during a game was always the best way. Quick, simple and subtle.
    However, that can be a bit of a problem during the daytime, so I can understand how some old traditions might have survived.
    Rednose 20th does have a nice round appeal. But if I was to have to make a bet I’m not sure if it’ll be as popular as the No.19 from last season. Then again.

    A toast to another winner for Ramsey in the next game against the auld enemy. And for Ryo getting that permit!

  • Dark Prince

    @mike in atlanta- being kicked is a fact. But losin a 90 min match bcoz you got kicked at a point of time is definately an excuse. To be more specific, its a pathetic excuse.

    But whatever you said after that, i definately agree with you.

  • Dark Prince

    @shard- i’m not undermining anyone here. Its jus my opinion that talking about something which is not under our or our club’s control, is in anyway goin to help. Though u say it could, then pls do give me an example of any situation when a problem in footballing arena was solved by jus talking about it in blogs.

  • Dark Prince

    Bob- thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  • mike in Atlanta

    @ Anne, i’m east of atlanta and shall email you. @ d prince let’s see what we can do to move the game into the light.

  • Shard

    If everybody only looked at what happened in the past as a template of what to do, we would have had no progress. Nobody’s forcing you to talk about it, and nobody’s distracting from the real football at hand. This is important however, and big things have always started from humble beginnings. You can either join it or look in from the outside. Your call completely. No worries either way.

  • Dark Prince

    @shard- well, i’m still waiting when we actually talk about football. Unfortunately Untold still hasn’t done an analysis on our weakness when the season got over. Neither has Untold done a player review.

  • Shard


    Injury reviews, and tactical reviews have been done.. And even when the thread hasn’t been there, people discuss the team’s tactics too, and even future signings. Why must you always focus on what ISN’T there? And I don’t think we need a player review anyway. If you’re so keen on it, submit an article.

  • Dark Prince

    @shard- i actually do have a lots of ideas for many articles….the only problem being that most of them would not be a good read bcoz they would be very critical, though backed by facts and statistics… i’m pretty sure Tony/Walter would not even accept those articles

  • bob

    All, in context of this thread:
    A most interesting must-read from the Sun/Mon NY Times on the nature of FIFA:

  • Shard


    So you give up without trying? Just because in your opinion, Tony and Walter will have an opinion that it doesn’t deserve a place on this site. Even if that is the case, it may not be due to the reason you attribute to it. I say give it a try.

  • Shard


    Thank you for that link. I really will never understand how people can say that corruption isn’t rampant in almost every level of football. That link from the New York times deserves to be shared, and questions asked as to why the British papers don’t give this issue more importance. Let’s leave it to FIFA to sort it out surely cannot be the message..

  • Dark Prince

    @Shard- i didn’t say i wont try. I’ll certainly pull up those articles, but i’ll have to first put them into a more acceptable realisitic way, so that Tony/Walter might consider it!! 😛