Jose Mourinho said yesterday that he thought the ref was biased against his team in their game against Manchester United – and the big news today was that for some reason he is not going to be sanctioned by UEFA.
Not that I want him sanctioned – but I just like to understand the rules. Why not take action, when other managers get punished for complaining about the ref?
Trying to puzzle this out I got to thinking about the language that is used to hide the fact that things are not right in football. Very few if any managers say that a ref was bribed by the opposition – they just say that he was incompetent or biased. There seems to be no way of telling if the manager is going to be charged or not.
Unless it is the fact that they don’t charge a manager who says to them in private “I know the match was fixed”.
Oddly when a fixed match is spotted the press don’t talk about a game being fixed, rather they speak of “better irregularities”. As if somehow that is the core of the matter, whereas the key issue is that a bunch of gamblers have paid a ref or some players to fix a result, and the players or ref have done it.
Saying “betting irregularities” seems to imply that the problem is not a football problem, but is a gambling problem. But in fact it is always a football problem because it is people in football (the refs and the players) who accept the bribes.
Put another way: there will always be bribes offered in all walks of life. That isn’t the issue. The issue is, “are they accepted”.
That is what the match fixing issues in England in 1914 were all about, and it is what the match fixing in France and Italy were about more recently. The acceptance of bribes.
The current match in question that was subject to “betting irregularities” was the 5th division game involving Weymouth and Rushden & Diamonds. Weymouth’s players went on strike, so they put out their youth team, and lost 9-0. I don’t know all the details of this, but I think it was widely known that the Weymouth players were on strike, and so they were not likely to win the game – and thus a lot of people got their bets in. Nothing irregular there. But supposing people were betting on 9-0 (ie not 8-0 or 9-1) at 2 million to one, or whatever. Then we have another match fixing issue.
The fact that a special language has been erected to try and suggest that players and refs are not involved, makes me suspicious. We’ve already covered the fact that the Italian match fixing scandal clearly spread to the Champions League but UEFA refused to take that up – obviously frightened that their financial mainstay would be tainted and their income reduced.
As I watch referees’ increasingly erratic performances I am increasingly convinced that matches are fixed – although I freely admit I have little concrete evidence. It is merely that it has happened, it has clearly not always been properly investigated, and when Mourinho as good as damn it says, the ref was bought, no one takes action.
Funny old game.
Speaking of which – this saturday against Fulham there will be a new edition of Highbury High available from those jolly chaps who shout “Brand new edition of Highbury High” outside the ground. There is, of course, a stunningly interesting article by myself therein, on three players, of one of whom the editor said (upon reading same) “I never thought I’d see his name in a fanzine again.” Bet you can’t guess who it is. Buy the mag on Saturday to find out.
- Arsenal v Leicester footnote: bad runs and past games
- Arsenal v Leicester; the injuries, the team, recent games, ludicrous predictions
- Arsenal v Leicester: comparing the form, and the goalscorers
- Arsenal v Leicester: how will the ref handle Leicester’s multiple tackling?
- What sort of referee is Darren England? The statistics reveal some odd facts.