The Untold referee index – gameweek two

by Walter Broeckx

It all evens itself out at the end of the season is a much used line in football. The same phrase is used if we are talking about having luck or not, about injuries in comparison with our opponents, and off course on bad or good decisions from the refs.

Last season I tried to have a look at the refs and their decisions at the end of the season. But this is not that easy. Because after 38 games you can forget some incidents which could have changed a game when a ref did not what he had to do or did what he should not have done. So from now on we are going to try to do this on a game per game basis. So after each game I will be analysing the decisions from the ref and try to keep up with a score on his decisions. And at the end of the season we should be able to see if it really evens itself or if it does not.

To do this I will have to make some kind of way in giving points to a decision.  After each game we should see a final result. And we could be seeing how many good or bad decisions he has made.

I was thinking of dividing it in some categories. I only will take the things that could have an immediate impact on the game and on the result like:

  • Giving a yellow card which is correct,
  • giving a yellow card not correct, or
  • not giving a yellow card which should have been given.

And some more important decisions:

  • giving a red  card which is correct,
  • giving a red card not correct, or
  • not giving a red card which should have been given.

The same importance:

  • giving a penalty which is correct,
  • giving a penalty not correct, or
  • not giving a penalty which should have been given.

And of the most importance:

  • giving a goal which is correct,
  • giving a goal not correct, or
  • not giving a goal which should have been given.

So we give a point for each decision or non decision was made and add the numbers.

To give an example: when a player makes a dive and a team scores from the resulting free kick I consider this as giving a goal that is not correct. We can argue about this until the end of time but if anyone comes up with a better way of doing it I will take it in to consideration. I might be a ref but I don’t think I know it all.  Another example: not given a yellow card to a player can influence a game. When the player later gets another yellow card he should have been sent off. But because not given the first yellow card he can stay on.

Off course every game is different and in some games you have a lot of decisions to make as a ref and sometimes it is more easy. So I will calculate his decisions in to a percentage. But you will see how this works later on. And I know that some other things can influence a game. But when this happens, let us say a corner is given from which a team scores, but it shouldn’t have been a corner and then I will try to bring this in to it.

The second game of this season brought not only Blackpool to the Emirates but also referee Mike Jones.

1-0  Arsenal: correct goal –  Good point for the ref

13th minute Chamakh goes on goal on the left flank and is brought down: should have been a yellow card but was not given. Bad point for the ref

30th minute red card against Evatt from Blackpool for a foul on Chamakh. This was the only correct decision the ref could give.  And later in this article I will come back on this as Paul C asked me a question about it. Good point for the ref.

2-0  Penalty  CORRECT. Now this may surprise you as even I said yesterday in a first reaction that the foul was outside the penalty area.  Replays I have seen since then,  showed that the foul began just outside the penalty area but when both players slid in to the penalty area the defender still was bringing him down There is an instruction given to the refs that if a foul starts outside the area AND CONTINUES INSIDE the penalty area that you should give the penalty. This rules mostly is used when you have a shirt pulling foul but it can be used for any foul that still is going on when moving inside the penalty area. So we must give the ref a good point for this.

3-0  Arsenal goal: correct and good point for the ref

4-0  Arsenal goal: correct and good point for the ref (btw: good advantage given by the ref)

5-0  Arsenal goal: correct and good point for the ref

6-0  Arsenal goal: correct and good point for the ref

For the rest the ref had to give no cards or had no real problems with the way the game went on. Maybe we can applaud the way that Blackpool played in a fair way and not went to kicking our players down.

Where does this leaves us for the ref:

Cards: 1/2  points

Goals: 6/6 correct so no deducting on points there. The penalty was correctly converted.

Penalty decisions : 1/1 as the foul was outside but continued when moving inside the penalty area.

So in total this gives us 8/9 or 88% on his report. And in all honesty this surprises me as I had the impression he would have got a higher score. But the result is what it is. Could have been better and so you see how one decision can make a big difference at times.

In the part of the world where I live and in referee circles they say that you have  a very good game as a ref when you get 9/10 of the decisions right or 90%. So the ref did not spoil the game like Holloway said but he had an almost excellent game. It could have been even better if he just would have given a yellow card at one moment.   Just to give you this information: If he would have given that yellow card like I said, he would have had a score of 9/9 or… 100%.  So I think he has missed the chance for a perfect game.

The question is : did the penalty change the game or the sending off? As both decisions were correct it doesn’t matter.  So whatever they tell you we did what we did, we didn’t get the help of the ref, everything what the ref did was according to the rules.

After the game Paul C came up with the question: “Walter, would you not agree that the rule should be tweaked a little bit so that when such a foul occurs inside the box and a penalty is given anyway, that the punishment should perhaps only be a yellow card? I just think if you are giving the red card for “denying a clear goal scoring opportunity” but award a penalty, then surely the “clear goal scoring opportunity” is being given anyway”? I would be interested to hear your views on this as a referee.”

Paul I can understand your question but the instructions and the rules are very straightforward on this: last defender, clear goal chance then it always should be a red card. In or outside the penalty area has no influence on this. Even if the players is just starting to run from the half way line but alone on goal it should be a red card and the same if it is in the penalty area. So the ref did what the rules told him to do.

But the question is if the rules should be changed if a penalty is given. I think it should not be changed as the chance is always there that the penalty is being missed or saved by the keeper. And that would have as a result that you have been denied a clear goal scoring opportunity and the other team would after that still have all their players on the pitch. So the team that has done something very wrong would not been punished in that situation.

When they came up with this rule it was to stop the hacking down of players going clear on goal and hoping to bring more fair play in to the game and more goals and more attacking play. But I agree at times it does looks harsh on a team like it was with Blackpool, who didn’t play it dirty in this game. But we cannot change the ruling according to the possible fair play for the rest of the game. So I am supporting the ruling as it is today and I really hope that Fifa keeps it like that. And  we cannot change the rules because the opponents looks to be a nicer team than Chelsea or so.

I will be trying to do this from every game until the end of the season and so we can see how the refs have been doing their job and if we have suffered or have benefited from the mistakes from the refs.

For those who have any remarks on the system used, please let me know so maybe we can find an even better way of doing this.

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27 Replies to “The Untold referee index – gameweek two”

  1. I wonder would one tweak be to have the rules changed so if a clear goal scoring opportunity were impeded (last man an all) could a goal be awarded a-la penalty try in rugby? thus it would be better for the defender to let the one on one with the goaly happen as there’s still a chance that it could be saved. with this the contest would be preserved for the rest of the match
    all in all a great weekend 🙂

  2. Walter- well this will again bring in the discussion of using technology in decision making. Video replays can be used. I still argue for that fact whether the penalty given was genuine coz the fall of Chamakh started outside the box. But then it would be a long debate on that. I think its purely good luck or bad luck to hav a decision in favour or against u. As we cant use video replays or any other technology to help in making decisions, it would be appropriate to jus leave d ref alone. The ref is a human, n u cant expect humans to avoid any errors. So eventually, it becomes useless to debate on this coz nothing can be done about it. Its purely based upon good luck or bad luck.

  3. I think that applying your system to the referee in the Fulham/Man U game would have resulted in a very low percentage for him! He clearly got at least two big decisions wrong. The penalty given to Man U for the accidental handball and the penalty not given to Fulham for the blatant shirt pull by Vidic. Do refs subcontiously favour Fergusons teams out of fear of upsetting him and receiving the hairdrier treatment?

  4. Mick, I agree with you entirely about the Fulham/Man Utd decisions.I was surprised neither the ref OR his assistant failed to see the blatant shirtpull by Vidic. Early on in the game there was the usual sneaky foul by Scholes that went unpunished (as is so often the case). I don’t think that even the arrogant Ferguson would dare to “hair dryer” a ref but it’s about time refs in general started to watch the fouling antics of Man Utd more closely.

  5. Walter,

    This is a brilliant article. We always evaluate Wenger, Arshavin, Walcott, & now Chamak… So let’s do this! Let’s rate the men in black by a system like this…

  6. I will do, Arsene Apprentice, and those who don’t like it can skip to other more brillant articles from Tony, Phil or Billy The Dog.
    It was after my review last season at the end that people suggested if we could do this and now we have taken this idea and tried it.

  7. I did the same thing with the first game Liverpool – Arsenal game as a first try out and with Referee Martin Atkinson
    So the final conclusion for that ref was:
    On the goals 2/2
    On red cards: 1/1
    On yellow cards: 5/6 which means 5 correct and one not correct but I add a 0/2 for not giving a yellow card when he should have given one (Ngog and Gerrard). So a total of 5/8.

    This gave him a final score of 8/11 or 72%. If he would have given those yellow cards like I said, he would have had a score of 10/11 or… just 90%. So I think he has missed the chance for an excellent game.

    But did the (wrong) decisions have an influence on the game: this is hard to prove.
    If Gerrard would have got a second yellow they just would have been sitting even deeper which means they would have been playing partly in the stand where the Gooners where sitting.
    All in all I think we can say that the ref had not a negative effect on our total points from this game. So I will not be complaining about this ref in this game when it comes to the shared points.

  8. Commiting a foul and thus giving away a free kick is too often beneficial. I hate when teams gain from commiting fouls. I wish the refs could read the game better and give a yellow card whenever the attacking team is fouled in a position where keep playing is better than getting a free kick. I’m looking forward to reading your report on the ref in the Blackburn game. Big Sam’s bullies are literarally gonna kill us, and as usuall the ref won’t do enough to protect our players. I hope a few of our players get through the game without broken bones. I estimate 2-3 casualites.

  9. And just seen Fulham – Utd : what a weak performance from the ref. Clear penalty foul on Dembele from Vidic. He almost pulled his shirt off.

  10. And the first Fulham goal was NOT offside. The defender behind the goal line still counts for the offside rule so Zamora was perfectly on side in front of Van De Sar.

  11. I just saw the Fulham game on BBC’s sunday evening show, and to be fair to the silly person who does the commentary (I think his name is Institutionalized Hysteria)he made the point that the defender behind the goal line is still counted as being in play, and did agree that the ref got the foul by Vidic wrong.

    I was hoping that this year we would see refs take action against shirt tugging, but after that game, I wonder.

    Still, we end the weekend second in the league. Not a bad start.

  12. As there were some people in the room and they were talking I couldn’t understand the match commentator but I saw an “offside line” on my TV which was not at the right position as it was Van Der Sar who was the place where the line should have been drawn.
    Thank goodness the assistant knew his business.

  13. Just watched the United game, Fulham’s goal was fine (despite manc protests). Someone was in Van Der Sar’s view, but as Evans was so far back the Fulham player wasn’t offside. Goal given, and rightly so.

    The vidic shirt-pull was unbelievably blatant, and was a stonewall pen not given. The Duff handball was weak, didn’t look deliberate at all, so I wouldn’t have given it personally. He didn’t move his arm to manipulate the ball, he was using it to balance and it got hit by chance. Poor call from the ref.

    The penalty itself was poorly refereed, the keeper was off his line and defenders were encroaching slightly so it should’ve been retaken.

    So the mancs should’ve had a penalty against them, and shouldn’t have had one awarded to them (though the ref should’ve given a retake). Nice job, Walton :S

  14. The handball it looked as if the Fulham player kicked it against his own arm. No player would do this deliberate.

  15. Very interesting article Walter. I think the awarding of a red card is too often detrimental to the game these days, and we have often seen referees refrain from sending a player off in a big match as to not ruin the spectacle, so the rules need to be reviewed imo. I know it would probably never happen as UEFA are too up themselves to look at other sports and their successful rule adaptations but i’d suggest using a sin bin type punishment where the offending player is removed form the field of play for a certain time, maybe 15 minutes. This would allow a significant advantage to the opposing team without ruining the whole game.
    In all honesty i believe the whole card system, including post-match reviews needs to be looked at and changed intelligently.

  16. I like the idea and the points system. What I would like to see is points for decisions for/against which team. The other aspect is if it is a Red card, which teams will benefit from the missing player ie which games will the player miss.
    The reason is simple – I believe there are some bookings in some games made to benefit teams playing in the next!!
    The whole referee monitoring should be able to spot bias and prejudice to ensure the referees know they are being watched.

  17. Hi I just thought I’d bring it your attention Arsenal are reportedly about to double their offer for Shwarzer. Maybe you already know this.

  18. Morning, Walter, nice article, as always.

    A little late with this comment, I know, but surely the rating of the referee shouldn’t take into consideration the number of correct goals given?

    For example, we scored six and six points out of six are given. If Blackpool had scored the chance they missed, then the percentage awarded to the ref would have been higher. Similarly, if we’d scored more (or less), the percentage would have been different regardless of the ref’s ability.

    So, the ref with two mistakes in a high scoring game would score higher than the one with one mistake at, say, a nil-nil game.

    This appears to favour unfairly some refs. What say you?

  19. I haven’t read the other comments so I’m probably repeating, but how can you possibly do this objectively – and even more importantly there are too many big decisions to make which are open to interpretation. For example How many times could a ref give a penalty for wrestling at a corner yet only the odd, seemingly random few get given?

    Love the blog (though the ‘AAA’ baffles me)

  20. As Gooneraside says Walter, the ref giving 6 correct goals and one bad decision gets an unfair advantage over someone who refs a 0-0 draw and no bad decision. Not so?
    In addition, (I’ll say this very quietly!)Alex Song deserved a yellow for a brilliant albeit totally illegal professional foul. Jones gave the free kick but not the card. I’m not complaining though because Alex will rack up his 5 card suspension before Christmas anyway. That decision just defers it a week. 😮

    On Liverpool, Atkinson deserved a minus 10 for the idiotic carding of Kos. No complaints about the first, but the second was insane, especially given Ngog’s blatant handball previously.

  21. I can agree with what you say about the goals. Most of the goals are obvious according to the rules so the ref has to do nothing about it.
    But then I was thinking what if a ref disallows a goal and it should have been correct? I surely could not leave such a bad decision out of it. So I decided to take all the goals in account and would add disallowed goals or not given goals in to it.
    So yes in a high scoring game the ref would benefit from my points system. Maybe I could give him 2 scores: the “decision-score’ and a ‘goal decision-score’. So each ref could get 2 percentages and then we can still put them together and give him a final score.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    It then would become for ref Jones:
    cards: 1/2 = 50%
    penalty’s: 1/1 = 100%
    goals : 6/6= 100%
    Total score 83%.

    cards: 6/9= 66%
    goals : 2/2 = 100%
    Total score 83%.

    About the biased thing: I admit I am a fan and so I might be biased at times. However in the past and in past articles I always have tried to be as unpartial as possible when it comes to the rules and try to look at it : how would I have reacted if it would have been me on the field as the ref. But if you see a blatant biased reaction or score from my part I am sure you intelligent readers would hit me on my knuckles. 😉

    After all it is not that what I declare over here is the only truth out there and I think we should reach some kind of agreement at the end of the day with the final score(s) that we give the refs.

  22. Walter – thanks for your opinion. I tend to agree with you. The commentary of the stream I watched on Saturday made the point about not giving a red card AS WELL AS a penalty and I thought that also was a fair point. It was at least something to consider.

    I suppose another way of looking at it is that not every penalty is a red card offense (i.e. denial of a goalscoring opportunity) in the sense that a foul could have been committed in the box where a player had his back to goal. However EVERY denial of a goalscoring opportunity is a red card, whether or not it takes place in the penalty area.

    By the way, I think what you are trying to do is ambitious. The referees go back and reveiew every single decision they make on video to grade themselves, as well as reviewing such things as “placement” and “flow”. To come to a score based only on goals and cards may miss out on some hugely valuable information that contributes to the overall way that a referee handled a match.

  23. Walter. Sorry mate but you can’t average percentages unless they are working from an identical base figure. e.g. ‘Arry goes scrumping. He steals 50 apples and 10 gooseberries. 2 of the apples (4%) give him heartburn, all 10 of the gooseberries (100%) give him the squits. Now whilst this explains why ‘Arry boy is such a miserable looking sod, it’s wrong to say that 52% of stolen fruit cause ‘Arry a problem.
    It’s only 20%. 2+10 ÷ 60 = 20%

  24. Good idea, but the goals for / disallowed goals must be tweaked. Imagine the following example: it’s not the same, morally and emotionally, when you didn’t win a prize worth 100K pounds, and when someone broke into your safety deposit box and stole 100K pounds, despite the fact that financialy we’re talking about the same outcome. So giving an obvious goal should have very little impact, since in fact it did not really “change” the game (same as not winning the prize which was not yours did not really change your life). However, dissalowing a goal which shouldv’e stood is very, very dramatic.

    The same goes for the rest. Bad calls should be “worth” more points than good calls.

    I also think that a dive which resulted in a FK which resulted in a goal is in fact a lesser “offense” than an unmerited red card, since the ref didn’t influence the quality of the FK or the wall making a mistake, etc. However, a bad call for a red card, is usually 100% ref’s mistake, and should be “worth” more points.

    I think the points should be something as follows (bad call means either calling it when he shouldn’t or not calling when he should’ve):

    0.5 point – good call for yellow card (positive); good call for an offside (positive)

    1 point – bad call for yellow card (negative); an unmerited offside called which the ref should’ve seen, although not denying a clear goal scoring opportunity (negative)

    2 points – good call for a red card (positive); good call for a penalty (positive); an unmerited offside called which the ref should’ve seen, denying a clear goal scoring opportunity (negative)

    4 points – bad call for red card (negative); bad call for a penalty (negavie).

    Points for combined mistakes are accumulated (i.e., not calling a foul from behind in the box = 4 + 4 points, for the missed red and the missed peno).

    Hopefully refs make more good calls than bad calls, so we won’t (more often than not) end up with a negative score.

    What do you think?

  25. Walter,

    After re-reading your article and its relative comments, here’s more comments. I promise that I won’t submit more (until the next time 😉 ).

    How about you forgo percentages – they really mean very little. Instead, you give plus and minus points which are accumulated over the season.
    As you said, plus and minus points for correct/incorrect cards/ penalties, but only minus points for incorrectly allowed/ disallowed goals. Number of goals scored then have no relevance.

  26. And maybe more minus points if an incorrectly allowed/disallowed goal affects the result – for example, a draw becomes a win or vice-versa.

  27. I like the premise, but to get a real accurate assessment of the ref you would have to assign points to EVERY call/no call he makes, making it a much tougher exercise. It is more than just cards and goals that affect a game and the refs performance.

    because in a hypothetical situation a ref could correctly call all goals and cards, but still fall for every dive and he’d still have an excellent game.

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