Gareth Southgate has suggested that the England world cup team might be a target for biased referees at the World Cup. This is seemingly based on Harry Maguire being denied what appeared to be a penalty in the 6-2 win against Iran this week.
It also appears that a video used in a referee briefing showing examples of foul play being ignored when a team scores, included video evidence from England.beating Albania 5-0 a year ago. In the video apparently, Kalvin Phillips blocks an opponent in order to create space for Maguire who runs on and scores.
Southgate alleges that Maguire was pulled to the ground by an Iranian player but the referee took no action and VAR did not come up with the goods. Later however John Stones pulled Mehdi Taremi’s shirt while defending a free kick and conceded what the Guardian report calls “a soft penalty”.
What is so hilarious (or outrageous, depending on your point of view) about this piece in the Guardian (or indeed any other newspaper) is that one never ever sees such criticism of PGMO referees in Premier League matches called out by newspapers, even though it is there to be seen (and statistically proven) all the time. The media in England absolutely will not tackle any issue involving PGMO and refereeing at the top level, and yet as soon as anything odd-looking happens in a world cup match involving a non-English referee they are onto it straight away.
And of course, this is not the first time it has happened – the FA approached Fifa over the issue of penalties at the last world cup and how referees might give a penalty for one side but not another.
In fact, it can be seen that “inconsistent” referees are fair game when discussing foreign referees but not when discussing English referees, because… well, of course we don’t know why because the PGMO is an ultra-secret organisation, and the media in England simply will not countenance the concept that PGMO refereeing is dubious in the extreme.
Imagine it emerged that across the world cup, from preliminary matches to the finals one referee called out a third more fouls than another, over a period of 20 games, and that England particularly suffered for that. Would the media mention it? Yes of course, and yet that is what happened last season in the Premier League. All one has to do is compare the fouls given by David Coote and by Stuart Atwell.
Or supposing it emerges that the number fouls per tackle given by one referee is almost 40% higher than another. Would that be mentioned? Not if it is in the Premier League (again Coote and Atwell last season).
Or if one referee gives 350% more penalties than another across the tournament. For that is what happened when we compare Darren England (15 PL games, 0.53 penalties a game) and David Coote (0.15 penalties a game). (All these figures taken from WhoScored for matches last season.)
As for yellow cards, last season we had some referees handing out twice as many yellow cards as others (compare Coote and Atkinson last season).
No, this ludicrous inconsistency among PGMO employees is never mentioned, but one game into a series involving England and the media are full of it. Why is that? Rampant nationalistic bias or a hatred of Arsenal?
“It happened in Russia and we’ve got to have that dialogue with Fifa,” Southgate said. “We want clarity. Otherwise we don’t know where we stand. Goals are going in and we don’t know whether they stand or not. The bit that worries me is we were the example shown.”
Can you imagine the media coverage if an Arsenal manager started saying that? There would be howls of derision about Arsenal making excuses. But when it happens in internationals, oh, look, this is a reasonable subject for debate.
And all this is before the most notorious variance among PGMO referees – that of favouring the home team or the away team persistently across multiple matches, is mentioned.
So why will the media not challenge refereeing in Premier League matches after 14 games in a season, but will do so after one game in an international tournament?
It couldn’t be because the referees in PL games are English and therefore above suspicion could it? Or could it be that PGMO has told the media not to talk about referees and the media is utterly bending the knee to PGMO?
Or is it that the reporters are just too damn lazy?
When we suggest PL referees might be biased against Arsenal, and use multiple statistics to prove it, many people sneer and laugh. When the media suggest a foreign referee is biased against England in one game, everyone nods and takes it seriously.
It’s a funny old game.
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