By Ino Lotz, our correspondent on Certain Things.
Serena Williams was fined $17,000 for by and large calling the referee a cheat. That comes out of the $1.8m she got for being runner up. So less than 1% of her income. She is not banned for five matches or anything else.
In the media there is no retribution. No call for a life ban. Not even a week’s ban. Not even a minute’s ban. Instead I have seen reports saying the umpire was to blame, and others saying it was sexism.
And yet never once have I seen press reports blaming a referee in a Premier League match.
Now why is that? Is it because football referees in the Premier League are always right? More than always right? Above commentary and dispute? Well, actually yes, because that is the deal between the secret society that is PGMO, the Premier League, and the press. Speak out against the referee and you lose your right to be an accredited football journalist. Set the agenda and the blogs follow for fear of looking foolish and off message.
Of course I don’t think anyone should abuse the referee or umpire in any sport – you go out and play the game and accept the referee’s comments and rulings. But that should not extend to a blanket ban on the media talking about the referee after.
And so I would argue that, as both the media and the player have blamed the authorities of sexism in terms of umpiring tennis matches, the media and the player should put up the evidence in clear and open terms – and then we have a debate. Unlike in football where there is never, ever a debate, on anything to do with referees.
Which is ok if you think all is fine in football refereeing, but still ever so risky, just in case one day it is not quite so fine.
One comment I read in the media was “Most also agree that the offences were punishable by the letter of the law.” Which suggests that although the law says the player should be punished, some people think that the player should have been able to abuse the umpire in that way, and NOT be punished. Others argue that the umpire should have reduced the tension by just giving a warning – which takes us into a world in which the arbiter’s decision is affected by the reaction of the player and the public.
Tennis, it seems, has become a very weird sport indeed.
Meanwhile back with the footie, at least we know where we are. For example, just days after we have Arsenal players commenting in public that the manager likes to choose a team for each game according to the opposition, we have Football London ignoring this and saying, “It’s clear from the first few weeks of the season that Unai Emery has yet to really decide on his best formation at Arsenal.”
Still maybe they forgot to look at their own computer that day.
They also tell us that a new left back is a priority. But we have three players who can play there – Monreal, Kolasinac and Maitland Niles. A priority? I am not sure. Just like I am not sure we need a “wide attacker” whom they claim is “also on the agenda and Cristian Pavon has big admirers at Arsenal.”
Except at the moment we can’t yet find a way to play Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubamyang together – so why another?
As for Ramsey, the view is “Arsenal really have given themselves big issues by letting themselves get into this position again.” So should they have said a year ago sign this week or we sell you? The problem is the player doesn’t have to accept the deal to be sold and Arsenal didn’t have the money to buy a replacement and there were other players they wanted to bring in. Difficult to see how else it could have been handled.
And this monday morning, lurking in the background is another issue for everyone (except the British media of course) as the Spanish authorities seek to play Girona vs Barcelona in the USA. Apparently the Spanish league will pay for up to 1,500 return flights for fans and offer compensation for those with season tickets not wanting to go.
Maybe they want to export Catalan independence to the USA. Maybe a clash in Miami between two sides with a high percentage of independence sympathisers able to express their views will make good TV. Or maybe they are just worried about independence views being expressed in Spain.
The Players Union has threatened to strike if the move goes ahead and Uefa and Concacaf need to give approval. And of course there is the little detail of the fact that the whole home/away system of the league programme is then distorted.
But La Liga is really keen to become the number one League, and the Premier League has of course made that easier by evolving a financial system in which one or two clubs are so far above the rest in terms of money spent on players that no one else is in with a shout – just as in Spain.
Meanwhile plans are afoot for the Spanish Super cup (the champions v cup winners) will be played in Morocco. Are we now going to see “Game 39” brought back to life?
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