By Tony Attwood
Today we publish two reports. This introduction s about how José Mourinho is waging his own battle against refereeing decisions. The next is about how the English model of utter secrecy in terms of referee inaccuracy is not the only one possible. About how other countries have come into the open and allowed everyone to debate refereeing, and to see exactly what is going on.
But first, the developing situation in England.
We now have a number of managers who will speak out when their team suffers in some way at the hands of a refereeing decision. Quite often they are then fined and warned about further conduct. If they do it again they are banned from the touchline. They tend to move into self-censorship after that.
The press have no time for such statements, calling them “rants”. No one defines a “rant”. A piece arguing a point in the media written by a journalist is not a “rant”. A strong argument by a manager is – that’s about as far as it goes.
The manager of Chelsea is however going further and I would ldare to suggest that eight years ago, before Untold started its week by week (sometimes day by day) campaign to have refereeing opened up in England, his actions would have be laughed at by the media.
Now they don’t know what to do. The Telegraph in particular is in a quandary, for while other papers do have stories about what he said, the paper which has of late reported several PGMO press release verbatim, is saying very little. There is an article, but it is tucked away and given no headline treatment on its web site.
The incident yesterday was one of retaliation – Matic sent off for pushing Barnes in response to a bad tackle. Mourinho’s argument is that the referee should have sent off Barnes earlier for two tackles, and Chelsea had two penalty appeals turned down. He is also as a sub-text suggesting this is happening all the time.
His response in the post-match interview (which sent the Sky Sports saturday afternoon team into hysterics for some reason) was “I prefer just to say that this game had four crucial moments: minutes 30, 33, 43 and 69. This is story of the game. I cannot comment because it is difficult for me not to say the truth.”
What the Sky Sports team did say however was that Mourinho was right – the tackle by Barnes on Branislav Ivanovic was a red card offence, Michael Kightly blocking a shot with his arm was a penalty, Diego Costa going down in the area was a penalty.
The media that have reported this also reported the response of Burnley manager, Sean Dyche, saying he was “absolutely flummoxed” by Mourinho’s comments.
So what Mourinho was saying was that he could state that there were four incidents, but say no more because otherwise he would be sanctioned.
That gives the FA and their PGMO buddies a problem. If they do nothing then all any manager has to do is copy Mourninho and go around saying “Minute 69” or whatever.