By Walter Broeckx
I think I have mentioned the book 1984 before. As Tony has done many times. It is not the best book I have ever read. But it is a very intriguing book. One that makes you want to look further than what the mass media are shoving down our throat.
And one that makes you suspicious about what the mass media, or children, tell us. I’m not going to bother you with the story itself. Those who have read it know what I mean, those who haven’t I would suggest to really have a go at it and try to feel the spirit of the society that is painted in this book.
The first thought that I had when I read this article in the Guardian was: 1984. The title of the article was: Premier League failures show it’s time to stop talking about referees.
On the same day that I wrote an article about the decline of the PL in European football following up on an earlier series of articles from November 2014 the Guardian came up with this article. Written by Barney Ronay.
I quote from his article: “Who out there could do any kind of job properly knowing every split‑second response will be scrutinised with relentless hostility, that your competence will be questioned, body mass ridiculed, integrity impugned? We seem to have forgotten that muddle and confusion, a lack of any deeper platonic truth in any of this, are why referees exist in the first place, that they are a grudging necessity, like corner flags or crossbars, there simply to keep the spectacle chugging along.”
Now some of that is really staggering. Let me start with the fact that yes it is a difficult job. But actually nobody ever forces anyone to become a referee. And nobody forces you to grow and become a referee in the PL. It is a free choice. Even if the referee assessors tell you that you as a ref have what it takes, you still can say: “no. I will just stick with the youth teams, reserve teams,” or whatever you are doing. You will be met with hostility at that level also. You will be questioned just the same. But not on national TV. So when you go up in the referee leagues you know that if you reach the PL you will be faced with that.
And let me tell you one thing: most referees LOVE IT! Let us not beat around the bush. Just as most players love to be in the PL or in the top division of their country, it is the same for every referee. It is where you can become professional in the thing you are passionate about or earn a nice sum of money apart from your mostly part time job that you do during the day.
And yes you will get all that the author in his article writes about. But that is because you want to be in that spotlight as a ref.
It is not that they do the course, pass an exam and the get thrown in to the PL for their first match. No they have risen through the ranks based on their performances, assessments and most of all because they wanted to be there and to reach the top. Ambition is the correct word.
Most good refs have that bit of masochism in them and accept that they will be on the receiving end of things from time to time. And if they don’t know they have been badly prepared by their referee organisation or came in from Mars and are not knowing what to expect.
They also have that little bit of pretension on knowing better than most others. Arrogance might be another word.
Most top refs that I know personally (and I do know some of them personally who have had fifa badges) and with whom I have done a few matches are a bit arrogant when they are on the field. I might say it is part of the job. Outside the field some are really humble but it is a bit like a singer. Once on stage they become a different person. So do most refs.
So those refs do know what is waiting them and they do know that they will face storms. But believe me deep inside they would not want to have it otherwise. They don’t mind standing in the picture that much. As long as it doesn’t get too personal and no real body harm happens and no threats are made to harm are made, they can cope with it rather well. Most of them are not stupid persons. So to suggest that they couldn’t do their job because of the abuse is a bit of nonsense.
In fact to avoid the abuse is one of the main reasons they will try to do their best. They will not lose it because they have had a bad match. Most refs have bad matches every now and then and they know it. But I think most are strong enough to live with it. Otherwise they wouldn’t have reached that level.
So Mr. Ronay is wrong in thinking that refs will not be able to stand the heat of the kitchen. In fact I think his words are disrespecting referees in a big way one could say. He thinks they are not capable of doing their job. I think they can….if they could get the needed help.
But Mr. Ronay wants to refuse them that help if you read his article any further. He doesn’t want video refs assistance and he tells us that it doesn’t work in rugby. Now I must admit I don’t know rugby but I have been reading on Untold on a few occasions that it does work in rugby. Who is right ? Who is wrong?
I somehow doubt Mr. Ronay as I think he has some kind of agenda. An agenda related to 1984. More on that later.
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