by Tony Attwood
You may have come across the Football Observatory, not least because its reports are often quoted in the media as a source of independent, quality analysis of what is going on.
And quite reasonably too, because The Football Observatory is a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland which specialises in the statistical analysis of football. It was created in 2005 by Dr. Raffaele Poli (pictured left) and Dr. Loïc Ravenel.
As such it is statistical in its work and analysis and its work is overseen by recognised academics. Which is to say not your regular newspaper warriors who think that interviewing three fans in the pub is a survey or a dozen ranters on AFTV is a survey.
The work is CIES is quite rightly commented upon because it is serious stuff, but because it is up to the media which of the CIES press releases and reports are picked up and turned into news, the bias of the media is always there.
And indeed this affects what we read since blogs as well as professional (I use the word in its money-taking sense, not to imply any standards or authority) journalists choose which of the findings they want to highlight.
Find one that says something positive about football and which follows the national line laid down by the media and everyone picks it up. But when they come up with something a bit unnerving, well, they’re just a bunch of Swiss academics. What do they know about English football?
So not surprisingly, CIES Report number 61, “What football fans think about the professional game” hasn’t had much coverage. Which is a shame because its findings are dynamite.
This survey was completed by 2,061 individuals which is very different from the daily pap that we are fed in which one journalist or ex-footballer being interviewed, gives an opinion on one player. It is also getting on for double the size of the interview base of most opinion polls.
But here it is not so much the depth of the research that is of interest here but the findings.
Too many internationals
61.5% of respondents said, “There are too many matches between national teams.” It is an issue that Untold has been commenting on since we started publishing in January 2008. I very rarely hear any mention of this on radio or TV, where they pump out internationals as if they were a good thing (which of course they have to say since they have just paid lots of money for the rights to broadcast).
Untold has always been with the majority here, because it is the clubs that pay the wages, but also pick up the tab when the player comes back injured. Mr Wenger’s comment that international managers are like car thieves who nick your car, wreck it, and give it back to you saying “get it fixed ready for the next game” was accurate then, and is accurate now. He got a massive fine for that one.
53.2% said “There are too many refereeing errors”.
Not that there are “some” errors but “too many”. Have you heard that replicated in TV or radio reports? I haven’t – because in the English media beyond the occasional, “I think the ref got that one wrong,” you don’t hear comments about referees at all. The days when Alan Greene could say on the BBC, “The referee was absolutely appalling,” are just a dim and distant memory. He was initially banned from saying that, and then dropped all together.
PGMO, the referees’ organisation, creates the rules of what may be said, rather like some tin-pot dictator lording it over his cowed poverty-stricken people.
So let’s remember this, the majority think there are too many referee errors. The PGMO who run refereeing in the PL say they are over 98% accurate. Just the fact of that difference of opinion is worthy of debate even without considering which side is right.
30.3% said, “There is too much match fixing.” And this is never ever mentioned in the UK media even as a possibility.
Now I am not saying there is match fixing, and as I always try to say, I have proof of match fixing, but I am very dubious about PGMO because of the way it runs refereeing the PL, which as I have so often pointed out, is very different from the way refereeing is run in other countries (one ref overseeing the same team time and again, no geographical balance among refs etc etc).
And now I can see it wasn’t just me. Here we have fractionally under one third of respondents saying there is not just some match fixing but, “too much match fixing.”
And this is consistently my point; not that we should take it that there is match fixing, but it should be a topic we can discuss – but we can’t, because the media won’t even mention it when it turns up in a survey from an organisation they often report.
The conclusion therefore is….
The dominant factor in terms of everything you read and hear from the media relating to football is “does it fit our vision of what football is?” And if the answer is no, it is not reported.
The Arsenal video collection: free
Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.
- 1: Are the referees and the media really out to get Arsenal, or am I just imagining it?
- 2: How discussions about refereeing are deliberately stifled by the media
- 3: Referees: the odd statistics that are simply never revealed or discussed
- 4: How we have been utterly misled about football: part 4
- 5: Hiding the problem of refereeing is destroying the credibility of the Premier League
- 6: Revealed: PL referees are not 98% accurate but actually just 75% accurate
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