The success of USA FIFA referee Mark Geiger at the recent World Cup in Brazil appears to be a one-off. There are no more refs in the USA with FIFA potential. That’s it - NONE.
Well that’s according to the latest news from “Refereeing World” which recently published a list of referees for a seminar in “Prospective World Cup Referee.” They were drawn from CONMEBOL & CONCACAF and not one referee from the USA is listed.
It has to be stated that these are up-and-coming officials and not from the existing list. Still, that makes for disturbing reading and someone needs to be held accountable.
The obvious questions that have to be asked:
- Who said they are not good enough?
- Why are they not good enough?
- Who is conducting the training and development courses for these new guys?
- When will they be good enough?
- Who is in charge of the structures that identifies new refs?
- How come there is no “conveyor belt” of new refs and assistant refs?
These are serious question that not only need, but demand answers.
My understanding is that the Professional Referees Organisation (PRO) is responsible for the training and development of match officials up to, and including, FIFA level. They are the body charged with seeking out new and existing young referees for the top flight.
Mark Geiger did an excellent job in Brazil and must have been a great inspiration to all aspiring FIFA match officials in the USA whether in the middle or on the line.
His performances won him wide praise from far and near and deservedly so.
So what now?
- I believe that the head of the PRO, English man Peter Walton, has a lot of questions to answer.
- I believe that Mr Walton needs to be called in front of a committee to answer questions as to why this has happened.
- I believe that Mr Walton has been found wanting in his methods on how he develops new refs.
All of this comes with the revelation by former Premier League referee Keith Hackett who says that there are “only three world-class referees at the highest level” in the English Premier League. (I would dispute that Mr. Hackett – in my opinion there are none).
Mr Hackett, who is a former chiefs of the referees in England claims that the global image of the English top flight is “under serious threat after a dramatic fall in standards.”
He argues that ”foreign referees may have to be imported to arrest a shocking decline in correct decision-making which is ruining big games like the controversial clash between Chelsea and Arsenal last week.”
Mr. Hackett goes on to say that “the current crop of English officials in the top flight are being undermined by a lack of Transparency and Accountability at the top level” and is now calling for “sweeping changes to the way the present body governs referees.”
I don’t want to sound triumphalist or “I told you so” but I have been saying this for years.
English referees are NOT the best in the world and they are NOT refereeing in the “best league in the world.”
This is their own propaganda and they actually believe it, hence the problem.
Peter Walton, in my opinion, was a very average referee when in the Premier League along with the current head of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) Mike Riley and Neale Barrie. They were colleagues and of similar styles. Neither had guts to make a crucial decision for fear of repercussions from the teams and ultimately the FA.
They lacked the testicular fortitude to really grab a game by the scruff of the neck when needed and deal sternly and forcefully with situations that would arise. As a result they gave the appearance of being weak and players and managers took full advantage.
They were regularly criticised by all and sundry and it has to be said they brought it on themselves.
As far as I’m concerned this is a totally unacceptable situation that there isn’t at least one referee from the USA on this list and the people responsible – the PRO – should be made to supply answers as to why.
Better still, change the leadership at the head of the PRO with someone who is prepared to deal with referees and refereeing issues and keep the soccer politicians as far away from refereeing as possible.
The USA is a comparatively new nation to soccer and needs correct and disciplined leadership.
Do you want my phone number?