Just another day at the office. The referee’s view.

by Don McMahon

I recently read a BBC report about a lower league referee who had been assaulted by an enraged player twice during his soon to be terminated career. Here is the URL for those interested in reading this story: www.bbc.com/sport/football/43736236.

The motive for me to write about this unfortunate referee is to highlight, once again, the unacceptable and highly unpleasant side of football that, above all other threats to the beautiful game, could spell the eventual end of football, as we know it. Here are the inconvenient truths that the authorities, politicians, supporters, spectators, parents and participants seem to want to ignore:

1) All the respect campaigns in the world will have little or no consequence IF the governing bodies of football fail to address the physical and verbal abuse that almost every official, at ANY level seems to suffer. FIFA,EUFA, the sweet FA, the EPL, the lower professional leagues and particularly the governments pretend that they are serious about combating such abuse and that their efforts are sufficient. However, when confronted with the actual crises, they hide their heads in the sand and refuse to stamp out such abuse…..hoping that a slap on the wrist will do the job.

2) It is time for a complete review and rationalization of the officials’ role and responsibilities on and off the football pitch, and the ancillary roles the governing bodies MUST assume in the promotion of respect for and the protection of ALL officials. It is clear that they have failed significantly in successfully addressing any of the major questions about officials, in recent years.

3) The more officials face such abuse and risks, the less attractive being a referee or assistant becomes. As we lose more and more officials because of systemic failures in football’s management and control of hooligans on and off the field, the less potential referees are motivated to try out this vocation.

4) It won’t be long before officials take action to withdraw their services to teams, leagues or associations who fail to enforce the disciplinary rules, protect officials adequately or take these issues seriously. Once referees decide to withhold their services, the game will grind to a halt……and could be seriously damaged by such infighting….which none of us want.

5) There are some very basic and easily applied solutions to this problem, as follows:

* Players, managers,coaches and spectators must be made aware of the sacrosanct nature of the referee and the absolute unacceptability of any form of abuse towards any official at any time.

* Once they have ensured that the above are made aware, the governing authorities MUST apply severe and lasting punishment to any player,or players, teams, managers or coaches and spectators who are guilty of such abuse, at whatever level it occurs or whatever the specious motivation of the miscreants may be.

* The services of referees must be reserved for ONLY those teams that respect officials. Teams that don’t should have these services removed until they have demonstrated such respect.

* Officials must be encouraged to and supported during all legal actions they may undertake against any offenders as described above. They must be encourage and permitted to report any such abuse to the police or proper authorities and reassured that there will be no misplaced recrimination or punishment for doing so.

* Convicted offenders should be required, as part of their rehabilitation process, to take a course on the Laws of the game and to register as a referee and participate in a minimum number of games to learn what it is like to be a referee.This requirement should be MANDATORY in order for the offender to return to the game. Failure to respect this obligation will mean a continued suspension from ALL football participation until the requirement has been met in the judgement of the governing authorities.

* Recidivists should be banned from football for life and, depending on the degree of seriousness, face the possibility of a criminal record and even possible imprisonment.

Let’s get serious about actually protecting the game from these hooliganism and reassuring our officials that we really DO respect their contribution to the Beautiful Game.

Recent Posts

48 Replies to “Just another day at the office. The referee’s view.”

  1. So this blog spends most of its time week in week out implying referee bias and referee conspiracies and now this post is demanding respect for them? Oh you DO respect officials do you? Yeah sure

  2. It would help if referees at the highest level set an example of applying the rules properly so that onlookers see players punished properly for breaking the rules. If referees at the top allow certain players/clubs to get away with dangerous play without applying the rules, it sends the message out to amateurs that they could reasonably expect to do the same with impunity. Whilst this is not excusable, if the amateur believes s/he can get away with behaviour the professionals are allowed to it follows that they may get upset when the rules are actually applied properly to them.

  3. Marko

    What a stupid comment.

    I whinge and whine about government and politicians on a daily basis.

    That is my right.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate they have a difficult job to do, a job I would not like to do myself.

    -But that does not preclude me from expecting them to do a good job does it?

    -But equally that does not give me the right to physically attack them either does it?

    A politician has to earn my respect, he does not get it by right, and until he does I have every right to whinge and whine about him/her as much as I like.

    Similarly a referee has to earn my respect, and if he does not, similarly I have every right to criticise him (not assault him) as much as I like, does it not?

    And one last point, if governments or politicians fail to do there job correctly I can chose to get rid of them if I so chose.

    I can right to them with my displeasure and I will get a response.

    I can go to a surgery if I choose.

    Trying doing ANY of that with the PGMOL.

    If we heard politicians were paid for there silence (apart from those umbrella’d under the ‘official secrets act’ of course) when they left Government there would be uproar. The PGMOL do this to there ex employees on a regular basis.

    The Mike Riley is more secretive than the most secret agent, in the most secret department of the most secret building of the the secret service.

    A secret services work is but an open book compared to the machinations of the PGMOL.

  4. When a referee is paid over a £100k a year you expect a better standard and indeed a fairer system of allocation of officials by the PGMOL.
    When a lad is doing it for a fiver plus a few travelling expenses he deserves top respect

  5. Marko,

    This site has given its opinion on referees which it is free to do. it’s opinion has always been facts based. I cannot remember ONCE that it has encouraged any behaviour direspectufl of referees. Your comment is totally out ot line, out of touch and useless.

    Criticizing and not respecting are 2 totally different things.

  6. Football is a low score game and with one official in today’s game there is no sense of balance or fairness. Or even control. When the game can be decided ona single goal over 90 minutes of effort that ref better be faultless. But he is human. Football either needs 3 refs like in Basketball. Any of which can call anything they see. Or computers. Both options are a bit funny. With 3 refs corruption will go wild. With computers we will need to play with the ‘sensitivity’ algorithm so that not every touch/contact becomes a foul as physicality is part of football. Computers can not gauge ‘intention’ Computers are excellent for marginal offsides/goals/throw ins and anything that has to do with limits/lines. Replays (var) though good for handballs and strong brutal tackles/red card offences/off the ball misdemeanors should be allowed with max 3 challenges per game or else every moron manager will abuse it

  7. Needless to say, everytime a Rooney or a Delali or a Terry or Lampard even looks at the ref ready to spit abuse – immediate red. Like they happily did to Buffon.

    But still. its so hilarious….. ‘Mane had every right to go for that ball’ when he is flying a tae kwon do kick into Ederson’s jaw and then they approve of red card for dissent/talking back.

  8. I really cannot imagine that in our referee reviews we have asked to hit, kick or attack a referee, Marko.
    And if our numbers would have found that it evens out in the end…. then we would have called it a day. The fact all our numbers over different seasons showed it didn’t even out for Arsenal has been the reason we keep on criticizing them as long as needed. That is till things even out.

  9. I have no problem with requiring respect of the referee. But I will say that this demand for respect of the officials is identifying the officials in the abstract. I think the persons underneath the title of official also have a part in this.

    In the laws are the basis for demanding respect. A referee can dismiss a player (manager, fan, …) during a game at any time. On average, you expect the duration of that dismissal to be about half a game. We’ll let half of that (or 1/4 game) be a “precision” in saying the minimum penalty for disrespect is half a game. If a player (manager, …) is dismissed with less than 1/4 of the game yet to play, that person may not enter the “field” for the next quarter of a game (so as to total 1/2 game). Which would mean that person, if a player, could not start the next game, and would need to remain in the tunnel for the first quarter of the game if named to the substitutes bench.

    That is for a first offence. Linear penalization is not very effective, geometric penalization (with decay) is far better at getting a person’s attention. In a season, each occurrence doubles the penalty: 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, …. At the 7th occurrence, the penalty is almost 1 season in length. At the end of the season where the penalty has been finished, the size of the penalty can start to decay. The decay factor is to halve the penalty. So, if a person was to be given a 7th dismissal on the last game of a season, they would be ineligible to play until the 33rd game of the next season. At the end of the next season, if this player was not charged with disrespect in those remaining 6 games, the penalty factor would be reduced from 32 to 16. Another good season, reduced to 8. And so on. If the player was disrespectful to an official in one of those last 6 games, the penalty has now moved up to 64 games (almost 2 seasons).

    That is respecting the officials in the abstract. The person of the official must also respect the abstract of the official. They must do honor to the position. If they dishonour the position, they must be punished as well. All officials should be “wired up” and those microphones must be recorded (no losing recordings). If possible, a camera must follow each official. The recordings are held in confidence if there are no problems. If some matter (disciplinary or other) needs access to some of this information in confidence, that information must be published so that everyone has access to the account. If a recording is lost, the top executive of the league in question must resign and never be allowed to be an executive for that league ever again.


    Someone has a problem with the league losing physicality. The laws only allow for shoulder to shoulder contact when the ball is within playing distance. Two players chasing for a ball, may have incidental contact when the ball is not within playing distance (the definition of which is ambiguous in of itself) without their being a need for a foul to be called. The foul is in using such a contact to obtain control. If the contact results in the other player falling, control has been obtained. One then looks at the contact. Is it approximately shoulder to shoulder? Upper arm to shoulder blade, is approximately shoulder to shoulder. Shin to shin is not even remotely shoulder to shoulder. Chest to back could be viewed as two shoulders to two shoulders, but that probably depends on the circumstances.

  10. I don’t understand why everyone on here is fighting with Marko. The article advocates full respect for the officials, something I don’t see being done on here. The reason behind this is irrelevant to the point. It’s either you advocate respect for the refs no matter what, or not.
    My opinion on the article is that it would have been more meaningful if it came after the match where Monsieur Wenger assaulted ref Anthony Taylor, would have shown how serious U took ref respect

  11. PTO…..unhappily i have been both verbally and physically assaulted a few times, including being chased by an enraged idiot brandishing a flagpole. He got arrested. curiously i have had the hardest time with parents of little kids (6-7) whose kids were having fun but they weren’t!

    Marko….we respect referees, many of us ARE referees, unlike you, but we acknowledge we are human, make mistakes and often fail to honour the laws properly. When we are paid a salary to do so, we are expected to perform at a much higher level.

    Knobby…couldn’t agree more!

  12. Kolasinac and Sterling running down the line. Shoulder to shoulder. Sterling goes flying because lets face it one is a rhino and the other is a dear. I dotn him getting a foul there.

    But i want the foul when they do it to Ozil.

    I know that Kolasinac does not need to use force and i also know that Sterling is harmless. But Ozil is lethal if allowed space to pass and whoever touches him does so in order to stop the comfort of passing and options.

    You know very well the refs here will give the foul to Sterling and deny it to Ozil. No computer can fix that. This is because of English hypocricy. The same hypocricy that issues Buffon a red and nothing to Rooney. The same hypocricy for allowing Scholes and his red mist momments to tackle with both studs flying in, in comparison to Vieira who adres talk back. No computer fixes that. Only an Arsenal referee to do to them the same we have suffered…and more.

  13. the use of the word “you” in the final sentence is very curious king. It suggests somehow that there is a central control point that writes or vets all articles. That article was written by a retired Fifa ref, and is his opinion. There is no “you” other than the other in this context.

  14. King………….as English is clearly not your mother tongue, I’ll make this simple.

    1) ¨It’s either you advocate respect for the refs no matter what, or not¨ – what gives you the idea that we don’t respect referees? We criticize their performances on UA because we have video and anecdotal proof of their mistakes and inability to do their job, based on careful and REPEATED observation of them failing to do so! We still respect them and would NEVER advocate harassing, attacking them verbally or physically during,before or after a match. Pointing out their obvious failings is NOT disrespecting them but rather encouraging the authorities to help improve their performances….which is a far cry from the hooligans beating them up.

    ¨My opinion on the article is that it would have been more meaningful if it came after the match where Monsieur Wenger assaulted ref Anthony Taylor, would have shown how serious U took ref respect¨ – aside from your ambiguous spelling and grammar, why would any article about violence towards officials NEEd to be at a specific time? Whatever Wenger did to Taylor was NOT violent but certainly ill-advised for a manager. Your opinion is that Wenger is a dolt but you disguise it with your disingenuous attempt to relate the two…..IF you cannot find any meaningful context in my article despite the attached video and my arguments…then take up officiating…I guarantee you that you’ll get the message quickly.

    By the way Tony I am a retired national, not FIFA referee.

  15. Refs need proper protection against a number of issues,at all levels.
    It’s just the games authorities are spineless, power mad, and a little greedy.
    The PGMOL could do a lot more to protect their referees, but for some reason, they seem to let serial cheats, some already mentioned in this thread, prosper.
    We all saw what Mike Riley let players away with, unfortunately some in a park somewhere might expect similar leniency and react badly if they don’t get it. Then there is the tolerance by some, of diving.
    Respecting honest refs starts with the authorities, and the PGMOL are part of that. Do more UEFA, FIFA, FA, Mike Riley

  16. @Tony,You refers to the writer of the article, who’s a regular poster/writer on the site. Though I could extend that accusation to you and Walter, but I suspect you wouldn’t agree

  17. @OMG, errrm, English actually is my mother tongue.
    You call refs cheats, pigs etc on this site, that isn’t respectful language in English.
    Your 3rd paragraph where you question my grammar &spelling is frankly balderdash. Wenger’s action was certainly not respectful towards ref Taylor, that would have been a good time for an Akb who’s serious about ref respect to advocate for it. It’s what we call “putting your money where your mouth is” in English

  18. Taylor has been caught lying to a disciplinary proceedings. Yet, he still has his job.

    Referees deserve respect, and the Laws give them the right to _demand_ respect. That they refuse to wield these powers I believe is partly due to the fact that they are not acting honourably in their position. They tolerate disrespect because their boss demands dishonourable behavior.

  19. king…..I don’t call anyone a cheat or a pig on this site, balderdash….haven’t heard that word in ages……but you keep missing the point! We don’t demean match officials on UA….we do call them out for their refusal to change or improve and their unwillingness to be transparent…..so why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and write something on UA that defends your claim that we are disrespectful to officials?

  20. “When a referee is paid over a £100k a year you expect a better standard”. In my comments for Arsenal Belgium I often dare to mention: “when a player is paid over a £100k a WEEK you expect a better standard”.

  21. OMG
    ‘We don’t demean match officials on UA’
    I’m sure you’re referring just to the article writing, because the comments section is open house to abuse & accuse.

  22. @OMG,What then is “pigmob” and other pig stuff some on the site call the ref organization? You may not be the person who calls them cheats or pig stuff, but I remember saying these are abuses I see on this site.
    Whether or not I decide to write an article for the site, what’s that got to do with anything? Do you get a pass for insulting the refs by writing an article for the site?

  23. What surprises me is the highly publicised treatment of Michael Oliver’s handling of the recent Champions League game between Juventus and Real Madrid. Subsequent comments from Gianluigi Buffon led to significant, intolerable and disgusting social media comments being directed to Lucy Oliver, Michael’s wife, who happens to be a referee in the WSL herself. It took UEFA a week to make any comment and when they did this amounted to them saying that such social media comments are not acceptable and that they would support the Olivers however they could. But what of Buffon? His actions on the night were nothing short of disgraceful and Michael Oliver decision to send him off entirely the correct (in my humble opinion), yet his subsequent comments were those that most inflamed the aftermath and he has subsequently refused to diffuse this by apologising to the Olivers in fact as going as far as further incite them by adding additional thoughts and backing his original comments. Why has he not been charged by UEFA, why do they not have use this as the perfect opportunity to enforce their own ‘Respect’ campaign? I know Arsenal supporters and this site may be the first to speak up when we are on the receiving end of bad refereeing decisions, but no-one should have to put up with what the Olivers have this last week on a basic human level it is pitiful and disgusting. That’s my view anyway.

  24. King
    I think you must be referring to Andrew’s referee previews. He does go a bit OTT sometimes doesn’t he!

    OMG also wants me to write an article for some daft reason.
    I mean is it obligatory?

  25. King,
    Your idea of respect seems to be based in political correctness, which is a convenient cover-all to stifle open debate.
    This is an article about match day safety and security for whichever person is performing the role of referee, regardless of the level on which the football is played and the contentiousness of their decisions.
    To question in a blog the veracity of the referee after the event does not threaten the safety of that person.
    I believe you are taking offence on behalf of others to whom you believe disrespect has been shown.
    That is a very poor and weak stance; and you add nothing to the discussion.
    Mind the door doesn’t bang into you on the way out..

  26. @Ando, do you have to use so many words to say so little? The article is not only about match day safety for refs, but about all round ref respect, don’t make it what it is to excuse your insults of d refs. If that’s what you wanna do, simply say you would do it, as long as no; ne is hurt.
    And as regards the door hitting me on my way out, is that another way of calling on Tony to ban me?

  27. @PTO, I’m referring to Andrew’s match previews and Walter’s post match reviews as well as Tony’s occasional reviews, for example in the aftermath of the match where Elneny was sent off, Tony wrote an article that has to be insulting to the ref on that day, something about gross incompetence… I don’t have any problem with any of it all, but to say untold is respectful of the refs? Lol, are you kidding me?

  28. I’m sorry boys, but both Marko and King are pretty much spot on. If you endlessly criticise something then I think it’s fair to assume you don’t have a lot of respect for it. Watching you twist yourself into knots trying to defend your already established position doesn’t make particularly inspired reading. Painfully defensive. They’ve obviously hit a raw nerve.

  29. People from the south of England a region that doesn’t exist for the pgMOB although it holds the most people, the most reinstated football clubs, the most registered footballers and yes referees, I know of people thatvset up their own leagues.

    Because if they can’t rely upon our sweet FA then they have no choice but to self regulate! Not allowed to boot idiots who don’t know what Sunday afternoons are truly for out of a league? People have moved on.

    I assume similar stuff goes on elsewhere around the land.

    Great article. Thank you Don.

  30. These transparent trolls are having at much success at trolling as they have had with their decade old regime change master plan at AFC.


  31. The referees are above any critique.

    But not the club.
    The chief executive needs to be lampooned by all and sundry, although he probably plays more football then most of his honest critics.
    Not the manager or coaches.
    Certainly not the players.
    Let’s not even start on Doris and her Tetley’s fetish.

    Limping trolls. It’s not a pretty spectacle.

  32. Marko,king and Mark Mywurdz……….What do you not get about referees (like Walter,me, etc.) on UA being critical of officials who fail to do their job properly and deserve fair criticism of their refusal to improve, because they diminish the reputation of officials worldwide? If you are so convinced that referees need defending, then why don’t you all take the time and actually write about it here, instead of sniping from the sidelines and trying to demean the messenger? One can criticize something but can still respect the people and the exercise of that function or profession….I respect my colleagues but abhor those who aren’t interested in improving or remediating their mistakes and poor form.

  33. @OMG, “I respect my colleagues but abhor those who…” in other words U respect those U want to respect and demean those you want to demean, wow!
    “If you’re so convinced that refs need defending…” Bro you wrote the article on the need to defend the refs. Like mark mywurdz said, you seem to be losing it bro, give it a rest.

  34. What don’t I get?

    “I think Riley and Dean have a few things in common. Apart from their look alikeness they seem to share some kind of hatred against Arsenal.
    A hatred Untold Arsenal has shown for a long time. And now the serious media are starting to pick this up. Finally I would say.
    Let like it or not: Untold will lead the way when it comes to strange things in the referee world. Just wait till they pick up on the rest”.

    These aren’t the words of some lovesick kid from year 10. This is Walter speaking. Seriously. A grown up. The Untold website is riddled with it. Fair enough if that’s what you want to believe. Who am I to judge?


    How can you then have the brass neck to publish a piece bemoaning the complete lack of respect shown to referees, which has inevitably led to assault?

    That’s what I don’t understand.

  35. OMG

    These “people” are clearly the type of genius’ that would insists that building regulations are not required as obviously you can trust most contractors to, uh, self-regulate. Right? There is no evidence to suggest not having engineers and builders review the work of other engineers and builders is required, going back thousands of years. Correct?

    In this instance, given the profound efforts above, bless ’em, Genius is an understatement.

  36. King…..really, you’re saying that my dislike for dishonest referees who don’t do their job makes no sense to you? Here’s the thing mate, a referee who is bent, a referee who doesn’t do his or her job honestly ,fairly and firmly is making my job as a referee that much harder and encouraging abuse and violence against all referees….get it now or have you lost the plot already? I know you enjoy trying to wind up UA contributors but take up the challenge and do something positive for a change…write your take on referees or the game.

    Mark……keep in mind that English is not Walter’s first language and the use of hate here means dislike or disdain. I haven’t heard that phrase brass neck but I’ve heard it about other parts of the anatomy, and I speak from experience that bad referees cause more trouble and disrespect than those who do their job to the best of their abilities, firmly and fairly. You’ve never officiated….that is clear, but let me help you understand: Regardless of what UA maintains, most referees are honest, hard-working and sincere human beings who, regardless of their failings on the field, MUST always be free of intimidation, abuse, violence or pressure from outside sources: players, fans, managers, the governing authorities, referee politics, etc. If you don’t understand that, you’ve missed the purpose of my article entirely. I am sure my article offered you free reign to criticize Walter,Tony and other UA faithful and had little to do with the issue at hand.

    Enough said…………..

  37. @king 2.50 pm
    Your reply once again shows an inability to move beyond rebarbative comment.
    At the risk of repeating myself, you add nothing to the discussion.
    My reference to doors and banging you on your way out was an invitation to you to sling your hook, not for Tony to ban you.
    Brief enough for you?

Comments are closed.