These referee errors are there for all to see but it is how they are reported that is of greatest interest

By Tony Attwood

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was asked by Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican Utah) about the financial model behind Facebook.   On all the reports I have seen and heard including on the financial news section of the BBC’s highly rated morning news programme on Radio 4, what was broadcast was the clip of the Senator asking how Facebook makes money, and Zuckerberg’s reply, “we sell adverts.”

Snigger snigger, silly old buffer of a senator not knowing that.  Ha ha.

But in fact there was a more to it than this.  In fact senators outlined the dangers and drawbacks of running a free service that collects user data which is then sold by Facebook to advertisers to target people.  That was completely omitted by Zuckerberg, and not picked up by the media.  No wonder Facebook shares rose at such speed.  With the help of naff reporting they have just got away with murder.

I mention this because this is the same approach as the British newspapers use with football, by cutting out segments of valid information and feeding individual snippets to back up their own generalised model of what is happening.

Take the Telegraph with its referee rating of the ref in the Manchester City game.  They gave Antonio Mateu Lahoz three out of ten.

So question one: why does the Telegraph only do this for a European game – and even then not every European game? Why not for PL games?  (I suspect the PGMO have it as a no-go area in their contract with the League, who pass it on to accredited reporters).

They then write,

“Pep Guardiola harboured doubts beforehand about the eccentric Spanish official and they will only have been reinforced after a lousy display.”

OK.  Eccentric.  Lousy.  Ever seen the Telegraph say that about a PGMO member of staff?  Or is it that these foreigners have never learned the rules of the game, and just simply “don’t understand” – that last desperate port of call for the person who has run out of arguments.  “You don’t understand!”  I recall my teenage daughters telling me that.  Quite a lot actually.


But oh, now look.  Guardiola knew about the man beforehand…

“The City manager admitted he had warned his players beforehand about Lahoz amid concern that the referee had been put in charge of the game.”  How funny that this never happens with Arsenal games.  We expressed serious concern about the ability of the referee in Arsenal’s game before the match last Sunday – but of course no newspaper did.  We were proven to be right – one of his major decisions was overturned within 24 hours of the appeal.

The Guardian took a broader view saying,

“Two billion pounds, 10 years and an entire Gulf state marketing plan in the making, in the end Manchester City’s best shot so far at becoming the champions of Europe was extinguished in half an hour of tailspin at Anfield and the reverberations from two minutes of self-immolating fury from Pep Guardiola at the Etihad.”   They clearly don’t want to mention the ref.  They continue…

“It’s different when [Mo] Salah’s goal at Anfield is offside,” Guardiola said. “It’s different when Gabriel Jesus’ goal at Anfield is offside. It’s a penalty for Raheem Sterling from Andy Robertson in front of the fourth official. Of course they have an influence.”

To which the Guardian replies that PG was “like a man directing three lanes of traffic while also yanking the choke on his petrol mower”.   OK, very droll, but it doesn’t answer the poiint.

Indeed they suddenly have moved him to being a serial loser for “it is now seven years since Guardiola, the super-coach, made it past the semi-finals.   Since then Guardiola’s record is ordinary, with 13 wins in 30 knockout games across three financially incontinent superclubs. In semi-finals his teams have shipped 16 goals in eight matches.”

They didn’t go back to Barcelona v PSG  on this occasion, but they could have done.  Strange things happen in football matches when you let referees do it their way.  The ceaseless denial by the media that this is so is making their coverage of football increasingly irrelevant.

Meanwhile Man City have now lost five games in their last ten, a statistic that we were very recently reporting about Arsenal.  Odd that.

Date  Game Res Score Competition
19 Feb 2018 Wigan Athletic v Manchester City L 1-0 FA Cup
25 Feb 2018 Arsenal v Manchester City W 0-3 League Cup
01 Mar 2018 Arsenal v Manchester City W 0-3 Premier League
04 Mar 2018 Manchester City v Chelsea W 1-0 Premier League
07 Mar 2018 Manchester City v FC Basel L 1-2 Champions League
12 Mar 2018 Stoke City v Manchester City W 0-2 Premier League
31 Mar 2018 Everton v Manchester City W 1-3 Premier League
04 Apr 2018 Liverpool v Manchester City L 3-0 Champions League
07 Apr 2018 Manchester City v Manchester United L 2-3 Premier League
10 Apr 2018 Manchester City v Liverpool L 1-2 UEFA Champions League

Man City will of course win the league, and the sort of problems they had with the referee in the Champions League game yesterday will quickly be a thing of the past – at least for the media which appears to have a memory span rather less than that of a fungus gnat.

And that is a major part of the problem.  A sense of history does not seem to be part of the requirement of commenting on football these days. Nor does a sense of reality.

As for investigative journalism.  Well, I guess that is just down to us, and it is slow and incomplete because our resources are, to say the least, modest.

But at least we try.

16 Replies to “These referee errors are there for all to see but it is how they are reported that is of greatest interest”

  1. Marko
    Can you elaborate?
    Presumably you think Untold doesn’t do investigative journalism but the 160 odd match/referee decision analysis series of articles would suggest otherwise would they not.

  2. What’s the article’s point? That only untold is allowed to lament and that, about only arsenal matches?

  3. Another good article, thank you.

    Regarding Facebook – as long as people are willing to use it, they’ll be sold cheaply, every single detail of their lives firstly known to advertisers, then profiled, then manipulated, but they won’t give a flying fuck because they want to be connected.

    Closer to you, in shackles.

    As for the mainstream media examining refs, their continuous failure gets nailed every week in Untold. Do people care?

    Refs decide the results of football matches. It’s showbiz.

  4. So, now,

    Will Arsenal fans and the pundits now realize that there is no coach MORE special than their current coach? Nah!

    Will the fans and pundits now see that all teams, even those put together with bottomless pockets need time and good fortune to flourish? Not on your life!

    Will they now consider giving the Arsenal more time, for their systematic decisions and incremental improvements to return to yielding consistent and improving results that better guarantees top four performance and the stronger challenges for trophies? Never!

    Should Arsenal management change its approach then, I hope not!!

  5. @ Marko

    I think what MickHazel meant was can actually provide some evidence to support your claims rather than one sentence which on it’s own is completely meaningless………….and even more so if it’s an attempt to be a clever answer to a question…………I would respectfully suggest that veiled sarcasm is not a productive way to substantiate a hypothesis.

  6. if the keeper is off his line…shouldnt the attacking player be covered by two opposing players?

  7. To a serious article, asking serious questions, about a media that patently has no intention of ever questioning the machinations of the secretive, not fit for purpose PGMO, we get:


    11/04/2018 at 12:57 pm

    It’s funny you think you do investigative journalism here


    11/04/2018 at 3:45 pm

    You’d think that.

    —–So says someone who clearly has nothing of any relevance to say.

  8. The media in general is appalling. Little pointed sound bites designed to shape world views and opinions and create controversy where none exists.

    Russian spies and royal weddings smoke and mirrors.

    I give up

  9. City were unlucky with that decision, but as Arsenal fans, we know well they are not always unlucky with the various interpretations of the offside rule

  10. City now gets a piece of the stick Arsenal weekly gets: wrong ref decisions that play a Huge part in the outcome of the match. To me it s clear that Arsenal is robbed of a ton of points because of this. Keep up the good work Tony!

  11. Another stimulating twist on the ongoing saga . Thanks.
    I’ve only seen the Citeh game, until Pool scored then went back to my knitting. I did enjoy seeing the boot of injustice being firmly and unfairly delivered elsewhere for a change.
    I absolutely loved the diabolical lack of working knowledge, that’s the instant responses that each reported would have applied if they were there, of the Jesus offside. The ref pundit ,even after he had had the circumstances of his misread explained at halftime, still couldn’t explain it.
    It is worrying that they all just glossed over it. Pundits and reporters shape our experience. No wonder I prefer knitting.
    Marko. Try knitting.

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