by Tony Attwood
“Referee tactics” is what it is called in refereeing circles across Europe. Except in England, wherein one gets the impression that nothing to do with refereeing is ever called anything because no one will ever talk about anything for fear of getting into really deep water from the almighty, utterly secretive PGMO.
We’ve just had a perfect example of how explanations from a referee can help, through explaining himself after a widely reported German match, and we know all about this through an article in Süddeutsche Zeitung the most popular newspaper in southern Germany. It covers an incident which interestingly was also covered by the Daily Mirror’s website in England, and the differences between the two reports are really interesting.
The reports concern the match between Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Jude Bellingham of Dortmund challenged Alphonso Davies of Bayern. It was a 50-50 ball but Davies went with his head whilst Bellingham led with his foot. The Bayern player went down and had to come off at half-time to go to hospital for checks relating to concussion. But the referee did not give a yellow card against Bellingham.
This is how the Mirror reports it: “Bellingham had been booked prior to his challenge on Davies. The former Birmingham City star went in hard on Jamal Musiala and, whilst he got some of the ball, the force was deemed excessive and he was cautioned despite pleading his innocence. He may count himself lucky that the referee did not brandish a second yellow following his clash with the Bayern star.”
And that is where they leave the matter: no questioning of what the referee was up to, because, well, no one in the media in England is allowed to question what the referee does.
But in fact as Süddeutsche Zeitung (the most popular south German paper) reports, the referee (Mr Aytekin) spoke openly to the media about his decision after the game, (which is not that unusual in Germany).
Speaking on Sky in Germany (but not in England) he said, “For me it was simply that in that situation I wasn’t 100% convinced about giving the player a second yellow card, which would quite possibly affect the game.”
His reasoning was that Bellingham’s first yellow card came from what he called a “can, but not must” decision. The referee gave the Dortmund player yellow at that moment, because he had already had warned him twice. But another card at this point and he would have been off, and the referee’s judgement was that was not warranted.
So the ref explained the situation to the media, and the paper commented, “When it comes to refereeing tactics and addressing the players, Aytekin is considered an absolute expert.”
They continue, “Referee tactics is what it’s called in the trade. It is an open secret and also quite desirable that referees manage a game as a whole and not just evaluate individual scenes. The referee must communicate on the pitch to 22 players why he is cautioning whom – and why not. Aytekin is considered a master of his craft precisely because he is rarely guided by VAR etc, but adapts his own decisions to the game. This was the case in the duel between Karim Adeyemi and Leroy Sané in injury time, when he did not give a red for the Munich player’s kick, but instead showed both of them yellow, thus quickly calming the situation.”
In contrast to PGMO, the German League makes it clear that while PGMO wants to keep its absolute ban on secrecy in place the German League wants its referees to communicate more with the media before the season.
In the PL we would have been left wondering why the player had not got a second yellow. In Germany they know. And it makes a difference.
As a consequence of the Great Silence, in England we are left wondering how some referees never oversee a home win, and others never referee an away win. And we keep on wondering, and keep on wondering.
Fanatical secrecy as organised by PGMO, really is not good for football. Nor is the complicity with PGMO by the media.
In fact there are three problems, and if you are a regular reader you will have seen me mention these before. But no one else ever touches the subject, so I feel the need to cover the basics very quickly each time.
What we find in England is that the number of tackles per foul ranges from 1.16 for referee Peter Banks to 2.04 for referee Andre Marriner.
Looking at referees who have handled at least four PL games this season the number of fouls called per game in the PL ranges from 26.25 for Michael Salisbury to 17.25 for Jarred Gillett. So Salisbury is over half as many more fouls than Gillett!!!
And the range of yellow cards is even more insane. David Coote is averaging 2.5 cards per game, while Peter Banks is averaging 5.25 cards a game.- players have double the chance of getting a card with Banks running the show than with Coote. Is that reasonable?
And it gets worse. Robert Jones has refereed five PL games this season – all were home wins. Craig Pawson has refereed five games this season. None were home wins.
And yet no one in the media ever questions anything!!!
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