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Referees who fail to be consistent in their foul selection invite (deserved) criticism.

Van Persie FoulWhen we join up to become a referee, we undertake to carry out our duties to the best of our ability without fear or favor. That, in theory, is how it is supposed to work.


Having watched recent games one could easily be forgiven for thinking otherwise.


It has long been speculated that the “red devils” enjoyed preferential treatment from certain top refs operating in the Premier League.


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Refs are to blame for recent fans' criticism.

Vidic Red Card FoulI have said it many times in the past, and at the risk of being boring, I’m going to say it again. I don’t criticize referees for what they ARE doing, I criticize them for what they ARE NOT doing.


I know how difficult the job is. I know how dangerous it can be too having had my life threatened on more than a few occasions.


I’ve been involved in this game for over 40 years, both on and off the field, and the one thing I have always tried to achieve was consistency. I know, I can hear you already. “No two incidents are the same.” “Each situation is different.” And so on, and so on, and so on…

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Oscar’s acting performance gets two thumbs down from referee Martin Atkinson.

Martin Atkinson administers caution to OscarReferee Martin Atkinson began the New Year with the bang.  He showed courage when required and uncanny ability to spot a dive despite the Oscar like winning performance by none other than Chelsea’s Oscar. 


In the 55th minute of the game between Southampton and Chelsea, when the game was still scoreless, Oscar was fed an excellent pass by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and found himself one-on-one with Southampton’s goalkeeper Kelvin Davis merely six yards away from the goal.  Southampton’s goalkeeper charged out of his goal in an attempt to stop Oscar’s run and cut the angle to his goal but Oscar artfully flicked the ball to the left of the charging goalkeeper avoiding completely his desperate challenge. 


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Chelsea beats Aston Villa in a match full of controversial decisions.

LampardIn a game full of drama and with huge implications for both the top and bottom of the English Barclays Premier League between Aston Villa and Chelsea, referee Lee Mason and his refereeing crew had their hands full. The game witnessed three goals, two of these were historic and record setting goals by Frank Lampard, one controversial no-goal cleared off the goal line, seven yellow cards and two red cards.


Given the high stakes of this game – for Chelsea Championship League spot and Aston Villa relegation from the league - it was not surprising that Mr. Mason was called to action very early in the game.  Indeed, he issued his first caution in only the 4th minute of the game.  The caution was issued to Nathan Baker for a hard foul on Chelsea’s Juan Mata. In fact, Baker should have considered himself very lucky because his lunging tackle completely missed the ball, violently upended Mata and came from behind.  Truth to be told, Mr. Mason could have easily – and should have - sent him off for serious foul play.  Under FIFA Laws of the Game, “any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.”  Baker’s foul easily met these criteria.


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Chelsea's Hazard guilty of violent conduct after assaulting Swansea's ball boy!

Hazard Red CardAs it often happens with the Cup fixtures, the Swansea City v. Chelsea game was hugely entertaining and did not lack suspense and drama. Late in the game in this semi-final cup match, the ball went out of play over Swansea’s goal line for a goal kick. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was the closest to the ball and, his team being down 2-0 on the aggregate and out of the Capital One Cup at that point, rushed to the ball with the intent to put it back into play as quickly as possible. The ball, however, had rolled into the possession of one of Swansea’s ball boys who appeared very reluctant (or too slow to Hazard’s liking) to release the ball.  Not being in the mood to waste any of the remaining precious time, Hazard toppled the boy over who fell on top of the ball but continued to hold on to it. In an attempt to get the ball from the ball boy’s possession, clearly frustrated Hazard pushed and pulled the boy in order to roll him over and off the ball but - having failed to do so - Hazard lifted his leg and appeared to kick the boy in the ribs. At this point, even though the ball rolled from underneath the boy’s body, the boy was now clutching his side in agony and pointing angrily at Hazard. As if nothing happened, Hazard picked the ball up and set it up for Swansea’s goal kick. By this time, however, Swansea’s players were swarming around Hazard and tending to the "wounded" ball boy. While the video footage was not completely conclusive, Hazard appeared to concede that he kicked the boy and stated in his brief statement after the game that “he was attempting to kick the ball and think he got the ball and a little bit of the boy too.”

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