Media attacks foreign refs, but are remourcelessly silent on English refs



By Tony Attwood


In that article we said, “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.

And later, “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”.

Given that build up it is not surprising that the media has excused England’s failure in the world cup by blaming the referees…

Indeed The headlines after England’s defeat in the world cup tell it all…

Of course that was the English media.  The rest of the world didn’t quite see it that way as Fox Sports in Australia made clear with their headline…  ‘Jesus wept’: England given TWO penalties but fans rage at ‘absolutely atrocious’ referee 

But beyond that, there was one very clear point that no one seemed to pick up on.   When fans rage against refereeing decisions – as they often do – at Premier League matches it never makes the media headlines.  The media never run headlines of the type reprinted above, in relation to a Premier League match.

It may be because everything is perfect in the world of premier league refereeing, or it may be that the media are under orders from PGMO not to dig into refereeing matters, including evidence of statistical oddities and bias.

And as for going deeper, by wondering why the same referees are used for certain clubs over and over again, that also never comes up at all.

Let’s look at a few of the shocking stats that you will NEVER see published in the media.  Michael Salisbury and Jarred Gillet have taken seven PL games this season.   Salisbury has blown on average for 24.57 fouls per game.  Gillett for 17.14 .  In short Gillet see 43% more fouls in a game than Salsibury, across all the PL games he’s overseen.

Or consider Darren England and Anthony Taylor.  Of the tackles each ref sees, a third more are fouls according to England, than according to Taylor.  It’s a huge difference.

As for yellow cards, Chris Kavanagh gives 4.60 per game on average while David Coote gives 2.29 – in short Kavanagh is giving out double the number of yellows than Coote.  Are we expected to believe that when players see Kavanagh is the ref they go out to kick each other, or are these referees refereeing in a totally different way?

The answer must be the latter – the standards of each referee are utterly different (or else they are biased in different ways), and yet the media never ever ever mention this.

As for the home bias, Simon Hooper finds that 80% of the matches he oversees in the PL are home wins.  Anthony Taylor only find 25% of his matches are home wins.  How can that be?

Chris Kavanagh, David Coote and Michael Oliver have overseen 24 Premier League games this season, and not one of them has been a draw.  Simon Hooper has run 10 PL games as a ref and not one of  them has been an away win.  Again this is beyond the realm of “law of averages”.  This is the law of bias.

Now of course you might be saying, “well, that’s how it goes.”  Except for the fact that we know from previous investigations that the crowd can deeply influence referees.   There are numerous articles on this subject on this site, and I’ll list some at the end, but in essence, the research shows conclusively that when crowds are present, the home crowd influences certain (not all, but some) referees.   When no crowds are present (as during the pandemic) that bias vanishes.

So what we have here are three separate issues.  One is that we have a raft of scientific data gathered by senior academics with a serious interest in and knowledge of football, to show that crowds influence referees.

Second, we have an organisation that runs refereeing in the Premier League, the PGMO, which is never ever criticised by the media in England.

Third, we have foreign referees who are criticised like mad by the media when England lose.  I wonder why no one is bothering to report these oddities or ask why?

The point with the PGMO referees with some of them having clear home bias and others having the reverse, and therefore which referee each team gets is going to have an impact on the result.   A club playing away which gets Hooper as a referee knows that their best chance of getting anything from the game is to play for a draw.   Likewise, a club that has Taylor as a referee away from home and which manages to get one goal ahead knows that it really needs to keep the ball , because Taylor’s results suggest that somehow, one way or another his games don’t end in home wins.

There are so many oddities in all this it is impossible to cover them all in one article but if you want to go further you might like…

For details of all the latest articles on Untold Arsenal, organised by subject, please see our home page

5 Replies to “Media attacks foreign refs, but are remourcelessly silent on English refs”

  1. Tony,

    I fully agree and this is one of the main reasons I support the ESL….we’d be rid of those incompetent morons, referees and the whole of PGMOL.

  2. Tony,

    These fact based reports on officiating have been posted on UA for years now and while those of us interested can see the bias I don’t think you’re reaching the powers that be. Who are they?, another mystery. Perhaps you should start a campaign of providing the relevant MPs with this information, if you haven’t already. I know it’s wishful thinking but couldn’t Parliament prevail upon the FA to rein in the PGMOL? Doesn’t the FA have any influence? Are the EPL and PGMOL above and beyond oversight? Frustrating.
    And you’re 100% right regarding the media’s griping about WC refs and silence on PGMOL refs. Disgraceful.

  3. Le Monde published an article related to the case brought by the Swiss Prosecutor against Nasser Al-Khelaïfi and Jérôme Valcke. The case appears to have been “settled amicably” after the FIFA foundation were paid financial compensation by Al-Khelaïf’s camp in return for FIFA’s withdrawal of the complaint relating to the awarding of TV contracts for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups to BeIN Sports. The article is behind a paywall, so I won’t link to it. Nobody else seems to have picked up the story.

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