By Walter Broeckx
This week we had a few interesting moments that involved referees’ and players’ behaviour. Things we don’t like to see but that are used by some teams in order to gain an advantage. Unsporting things. Things that also make life difficult for referees. Let us have a closer look.
The diver’s disease.
As a ref I know how difficult it is sometimes to see the difference between a foul and a dive. In my reviews when a player takes a dive I give black marks to the ref, even though it might have been an honest mistake by the ref. But as our reviews work on a black/white or right/wrong measure we just judge it as the video evidence shows it.
But the real person who is dishonest when a dive is made is not the ref of course but the player who dives. Now you have a few different dives. One that I think is the least bad dive is the evasive dive. A players sees another player coming, fears the impact and dives out of the way to avoid a possible dangerous contact. In fact this dive is not really a dive or should not be branded as a real dive. Because the way the other player comes in towards the ‘diver’ in a dangerous way, can make the diver fear for his legs and then even when there is no contact then it still is a foul.
But if we look at the dives last Monday we have real dives. Di Maria went down as if he was shot and taken his legs away. Ramsey half a second before had a little hand to hand contact with Di Maria. Now if Di Maria was pulled back (there is no real evidence of Ramsey really pulling or just touching him which is no foul in itself) he could have carried on running with the ball or he could have stopped his run after the ball. And then the ref has to decide: was there a real pull or not and call it a foul or not. But throwing himself to the ground as if his legs had been tripped was what made it a real dive. And thus the yellow card was completely correct.
The other dive was even more blatant. Januzaj ran in front of Monreal and Monreal made a bit of contact with Januzaj OUTSIDE the penalty area. Januzal then went on running and took another 3 or 4 steps and then went down with Monreal being close but not touching him at all. Again if Januzaj wanted to get a foul he should have gone down where the contact was (outside the penalty area) and then again the ref had to make a decision if the hand contact (no foul in itself) was worthy of a foul or not.
Making contact with another player with your hand is not strictly forbidden, it is the way the contact is made that makes it a foul or not.
Now on both occasions the ref got it spot on. And that is something he deserves credit for. But let us imagine he had given in to the strong crowd reaction and the reaction of the United players surrounding the ref to force a favourable decision for them and given a penalty. It would have taken a video ref only 5 seconds to tell the ref that it was a blatant dive from Januzaj and then the decision could have been reversed.
In Belgium we have for a while had a system in place that can overrule decisions from the ref even when he has seen them and given a yellow card. If for instance looking at the video evidence the authorities can see that a tackle was more dangerous than the ref had seen it, a player still can get banned. And it also goes the other way round. If a ref has given a red card and the video evidence shows that it should have been a yellow card the player can come off without extra ban.
But why don’t we install that system on the spot? That way a team doesn’t have to go down undeservedly to 10 man if the ref made an honest mistake.
The harassing disease.
It’s back. We saw it being done by United players time and time again last Monday. And what I have seen yesterday in the match Chelsea-PSG was nothing short of the most disgraceful behaviour I have seen from any team for a long, long time. I think apart from Courtois (credit to him) all Chelsea players were surrounding the ref from Holland and pressurizing him to give Ibrahimovic a red card. Whether it should have been a red card or not is not important. The harassing of the referee by almost the entire Chelsea team was a disgrace for football. And for Chelsea FC in particular.
Chelsea and their players are taking football back to the dark ages of cattanacio and the times when referees had to run for their lives to keep the players away from them. We had the same a few years ago and it then was stamped out with handing out a few yellow cards to surrounding players. But as most rules this fades out after a while because it works. So players stopped harassing referees and then the referees forget the instructions. And now the harassing can start all over again.
So it takes only one memo from Uefa to remind the local football authorities of this instruction and pass it on to the refs and start doing it again.
But I would suggest that the football authorities act also in another way. In fact in 2 ways. I would suggest that in case a team surrounds a referee the captain of that team should get a yellow card. He is responsible for the behaviour of their players and so he should make sure they don’t do it. And if the players do surround the referee in group it is he who should at least be booked apart from the most aggressive harassers. A result would be that if a team surrounds a ref twice in a match, they would lose their captain. And the second action should be that after the match the football authorities look at such incidents and mark each player that joined the group with an extra yellow card. It will have no direct impact but if a player would surround a ref on a frequent basis (and the serial harassers do this) he could be in trouble after a few games and get banned.
Time to kill this behaviour now before it raises its ugly head again. Come on Mike, what are you waiting for.
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England
- Didn’t appreciate KO time, M1 is a disaster, but watching Arsenal is a joy
- Arsenal v Newcastle: the team and league positons AFTER the game.
- Arsenal v Newcastle: injuries, yellow cards and recent form