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June 2021

Unlike in the Premier League, in Germany the media is not muzzled whhen talking about referees

by Tony Attwood

In the Leipzig match against Bayern in the Cup, the referee was Felix Zwayer.  The sporting director of RB Leipzig is Ralf Rangnick.

Coming up to half time Mats Hummels and Ralf Rangnick come together on the pitch.  The ref givs a penalty and then apparently on consulting with the linesmen in the far distance, changes his mind and orders a free kick.

Rather annoyed by all this the RB Leipzig director Rangnick who by chance was filming the whole match on his phone (a nice touch), rushes up to the referee and tries to show him the replay of events on the screen.  The Bayern players react angrily.  There is a bit of a hoo-haa, as they used to say.

The first question is why was there no video replay in the ground?  The answer is seems is that this was a second round game in the Cup and video equipment only comes into the grounds in the third round.  I don’t know why.  Nor do the German papers that I have been reading.  But at least they bother to ask the question.

There was however a lot of questioning of what the referee was up to.

So all a bit curious.   Not quite as curious perhaps as events in Glasgow.  Let’s start with the BBC Report.  We take it up in the final moments with Rangers 1-0 up against Kilmarnock.

“Just as Rangers thought they would be able to see the victory out, when Kirk Broadfoot conceded a penalty with a barge on Herrera, their evening fell apart.

“Jack and Broadfoot clashed, with both shown a yellow card by referee Alan Muir, who then upgraded Jack’s to a red following a discussion with the fourth official. Candeias [of Rangers] then saw his penalty saved by MacDonald, and moments later Burke [of Kilmarnock] turned in Stephen O’Donnell’s low cross at the far post.”

That report doesn’t quite bring across the full extent of what happened at a match, at which, by chance, Untold had one of its occasional writers present.  His report paints a picture of utter chaos, a match which did not get played through to the full extent of time that should be added on, and the oddity of a player being sent off while standing doing nothing in the centre circle on the evidence of a linesman a long, long way away.  (That’s what the BBC report calls the “upgraded to” part of the affair.)

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The big difference between the two games and the way they were reported is that the activities of the referee in the German game and particularly of the German ref was given a full-scale review in the German press, and indeed got a fair old mention in some of the UK press, such as the Daily Mail.  The whole set of deliberations and change of mind were looked at, the issue of the non-use of official video was considered, and the fault or otherwise of the referee examined in depth.

With the match in Glasgow, there was a passing reference to the referee but on the BBC site and one other that I saw the issue of the ref and the question of his ineptitude over the whole affair (not least in not playing out the whole game) was by and large swept aside.

Exactly as it would have been had it been played in England, rather than Scotland.  Because here, the media do not question or examine properly the work of the referees.   They are sacred, above suspicion and above reproach.

Now German paper I looked at ( actually had two different analyses of the events, and within them reached different conclusions – but the fact is they were interested enough to examine what the referee was up to in so much depth that they ran two separate articles speaks volumes for their freedom of expression.

Meanwhile in England the Guardian has a piece by Jacob Steinberg with the headline “The band plays on but dissatisfaction with the Premier League is growing”.  The title of the piece pretty much tells you what is in the article.  There is growing dissatisfaction with the Premier League it says.

But nowhere in the article is the word “referee” mentioned once.  Not once.   I was not expecting a review of the inner working of the ultra-secretive PGMO, but at least a mention in passing that some fans are a bit fed up with the inaccuracy level of some referees.

However, that is forbidden by the contractual agreement between the League and the newspapers.  You cannot have a go at referee accuracy.  Nor, it seems, can you ask questions about why we don’t have video referees.

But such questions are allowed in Germany, and the press get engaged with them.  But no, not in England.  Unless of course the events happen in Germany!

If you really want to know why dissatisfaction is growing with the Premier League, it might be worth looking at the way reporting is sanitised.  Those of us who go to matches know what we see, and it is often refereeing incompetence.  (And as you may recall, just in case it was our eyesight on the day, we took the first 160 games of last season and analysed them, complete with video evidence.  The result is still on this site).

I am not saying we don’t get annoyed about other things, and as I have said before I can understand why people are annoyed with Kroenke at Arsenal, for example.  But the endless direction of football reporting in the UK into specific channels, while ignoring what those of us who go to games actually see, is getting to a state where media reporting is becoming a fantasy land, devoid of any relationship with the game as it is being played out.

And that is why some people are getting a trifle miffed.

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7 comments to Unlike in the Premier League, in Germany the media is not muzzled whhen talking about referees

  • para

    Yes i noticed this long ago. They seem to be all under the control of the football organisations, who dictate how football is to be run and how it is to be perceived by the public.
    This is the same pattern that i have discovered in some other areas of life, some one(org. body) dictates to all participants below(like a pyramid) how to behave.
    This looks like they will be hard to remove, but if what you said about the American owners of clubs in UK meeting about the PL, then there may well be a fight for control, or a breakaway to form something new(?).
    Interesting times ahead in football it seems.

  • para

    Forgot to ask;
    Are you under pressure to change your web page to look like all the other “clone” web pages?

    I cannot help noticing that web pages are all starting to look more and more the same, with the endless scrolling and co-ordinated look, it is so irritating.

  • Steve Vallins

    The media has to pay to transmit/print the football results so from that can EPL and FL not allow coverage by the media of the games played if any derogatory remarks on a consistent basis are made against any area covering the organisation of football in this country
    It seems they have complete censorship of what is allowed in the media regarding football
    One example the BBC will never say that was a definite penalty if not given the same as a penalty given which should not have been given they never criticise just sit on the fence

  • Chris


    this is exactly it. Kind of like governement telling the BBC that if it want’s to report on governement affairs, they are to be positive or else.

    I have trouble believing there is no way to report on reality. To me it is just the press NOT wanting to do their job because otherwise they’d not be treated VIP like. Just them being lazy and comfortable and just a cogwheel in the system instead of an actor.

  • Menace

    There was an interesting documentary shown on Star TV in India on the introduction of VAR in Germany. What was refreshing was the openness of the whole process. It allows fans to understand the shortfalls & the benefits without this PGMOL secretive mentality.

  • Gord


    I am sorry, I am not a member of I have no money to do this. I am also paranoid about security, and don’t allow things like flash to run on my computers.

    Websites feel the need to “tweak” things all the time.

    And now, I visit, and I see scattering headlines and no images at all. And I ask myself, is there any reason to return to

    If things don’t change, I will give up on as a source of information about Arsenal.

    Which is a pity.

  • Jared

    This whole argument used to drive me nuts in regards to American football (NFL.) On the game broadcasts the real controversial replays were never shown, or maybe I mean it in this way: if it put the game referees in a negative light the replay would not be shown repeatedly. And in my opinion the NFL referees are very good, not perfect, but excellent most of the time. The same amount of players, but a team of 7 lined up in better positions than football(soccer) officials. I’ve thought for a long time that football(soccer) could use another Match Referee, one for each side of the field, with one at the halfway line and one at the goal line, moving together back and forth. I suppose the 4th official is another set of eyes, but he’s easily distracted with managers constantly in his ear, and the linesman help but they already have a tough job to do and are not always in the best position. I don’t see why the linesman position hasn’t been eliminated entirely with the advent of technology. They could put computer chips inside the balls and in the players boots/kit and the offside rule would be correct 100% of the time. I suppose people enjoy the human element of sports as well though.