By Tony Attwood
Setting aside my packing for the trip to Australis tomorrow I have just watched the recording of Sky’s Saturday Night Football of the game.
And would you believe it, they slipped in a mention of time wasting.
Not in any detail, and with no film illustration, but the co-commentator said, “and there’s the time wasting again”. It wasn’t a complete revelation of course – the camerawork didn’t reflect anything about the time wasting, but there was booing ringing around the ground, and it must have been odd for anyone watching the match on TV who hadn’t been there.
Of course it is always strange when part of the media follows up on something Untold is talking about over and over again – as with the Telegraph responding on behalf of PGMOL just after Walter exposed their latest inaction, or going back much further the time when Mr Wenger quoted one of our jokes, and picked used the phrase “rotational fouling”.
Are these occasions when Untold has an influence on the agenda? Maybe … it would be nice to think so, but you never really know.
Anyway the time wasting by Burnley was by no means the worst we have seen – far from it – but it was there. It started on 30 minutes when their keeper took an age to take a goal kick, moving the ball from one position to another and back again. He looked up and saw the ref looking straight at him. But the ref did nothing. Not even a wave of the hand to indicate “hurry up”.
So the keeper took that as the signal to carry on, and carry on he did throughout the game. Time waste, time waste, time waste. So fixated was he by it that when Arsenal scored the first goal, he just carried on wasting time as before.
Sky of course didn’t cover any of this, continuing the myth of the media that time wasting does not happen. But the booing grew louder and louder, and continued for much of the rest of the game.
The moment of the comment was brief, and there with the bizarre insistence of the directors that the audience is more interested in seeing a player who has just missed a shot trot back to the half way line, than actually see something that is utterly affecting the game, we got none of it.
But it was there, of course, as it always is, at last it has been mentioned. We can only hope that it wasn’t a blip, and that strict instructions from Sky HQ are not at this moment winging their way to all commentary crews saying, “Don’t Mention the Time Wasting again or you are out of a job.”
Booing time wasting has been the first step to getting referees to take their responsibilities under the laws of the game seriously. Getting TV commentators to talk about it, is the second step. Actually showing the activities of time wasting keepers instead of players trotting along the pitch, would be the third step.
Then would come the biggest leap of all – getting the refs to do something.
It’s a long journey – but maybe we’ve made some progress.
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