When 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.
There are many instances when it appeared as though they were getting the “rub of the green” from referees in 50/50 fouls. This year the opposite seems to be the case.
Take a look at the recent EPL game between Stoke City and Manchester United.
Even to the uninitiated and most neutral football follower the foul on United’s Robin van Persie was as clear a penalty as you will see.
What the referee has to decide in situations like this is simple – was the player fouled and prevented from challenging for the ball. I think the video evidence speaks for itself.
Why then didn’t the referee blow for the foul and award a penalty kick?
Let me put it another way - if that type of foul had occurred outside the penalty area – say in the middle of the field – would the referee have given a free kick? The answer is yes. So, why then didn’t he award a penalty kick? Only he knows.
The action, or more to the point inaction, by the referee on this occasion leaves us all open to accusations of bias, favouritism, and blatant cheating from fans of the “offended” team and mutterings of disbelief from others.
It has to be said that RvP generally is not a “diver” unlike some of his fellow professionals who spend more time on the ground than on their feet.
Last year it appeared that Manchester United were “getting everything” from referees, while this year they appear to be “getting nothing.”
What is the reason for this? Is it because Sir Alex Ferguson was on the touchline and exercised some sort of spell on the match officials? Now that he’s no longer in charge at Old Trafford have the referees changed their way of looking at fouls perpetrated by and on Manchester United?
Whichever way it is, there appears to be a bias against United this term.
Sometimes players can be victims of their own behaviour. Luis Suarez of Liverpool is one. Ashley Young of Manchester United is another just to name two.
Many times we see players falling down at the slightest touch and rolling around on the ground in apparent agony. What’s most annoying is that referees are allowing themselves to be fooled by this nonsense.
This is a new phenomenon that has only crept into the game in the last few years and is spreading like wildfire. Even children are now replicating what they see their idols doing and no one is prepared to put a stop to it.
I have no doubt that teams have a department within their clubs who are teaching their players how to dive and blatantly cheat in order to gain that added advantage for their team. My problem is that the match officials are allowing it to happen.
Are we now lacking the balls (excuse the pun) to make the decisions that need to be made? Are we scared of the repercussions from the players and managers? Are we afraid of what the papers will say about what we did, or did not do?
Referees are the guardians of the game. We have the power to stop it. We have the power to do something about it.
I really think we need to get back to basics. We shouldn’t be called referees; we should be called reactionaries because that’s what we are. We see a situation and we react to it.
How many times have you heard “the ref was great – hardly heard the whistle.” Well my friend that’s because you behaved yourself. No foul – no whistle, simple as that.