Wannabe Refs!

Some time ago I wrote a blog stating that refereeing was not for the faint hearted. I stick by that conclusion. I would even go on to say that while some might perceive themselves as being match officials, they would never make a referee in their lifetime. Why?

Let me start from the beginning and as you read on you’ll get to grip with what I mean.

Refereeing is a special kind of “work.” It requires nerves of steel, the fitness of an Olympic athlete, skin as thick as an elephant (no disrespect to the elephant), the wisdom of Albert Einstein, and the testicular fortitude of a struggling politician telling us that everything is “hunky dorey” when constantly getting doors slammed in his/her face.

Not many have those qualities. Fewer still will ever develop them so my advice is take some other activity where there is no stress and even less hassle.

Let me get a couple of things off my chest.

There are seventeen (17) Laws of the Game written by the world governing body FIFA/IFAB. How many times have you heard of the two additional ones? Yes, I did say 2 additional ones:

  • “Law 18” which is interpreted as “common sense” and, of course, not forgetting
  • “Law 19", the spirit of the game.

Dear oh dear!!!

  • Where did these additional two come from?
  • Who thought up this nonsense?
  • How many actually abide by them?

Let’s take the first one “common sense.”

  • How and when is it supposed to be applied?
  • What does it mean and what constitutes commonsense?
  • Are there particular instances when “common sense” is supposed to come into force?

A game is played for two periods of 45 minutes by teams who will do everything in their power to deceive, cheat, and dive their way to a win. They will try every trick in their “book” to gain that valuable victory.

The referee is on a hiding to nothing. He’s damned if he does and he’s damned if doesn’t.

Refereeing is not for everyone even those who think they can do the job. It’s a special “breed” of human who takes up the whistle and sets about arbitrating between two “warring” sides.

I’m not here to criticize referees. I’m not a ref knocker. I know how tough it can be. I’ve said many times that I don’t criticize referees for what they do – I criticize them for what they DON’T do. If that means I’m being critical, well then I am.

Can anyone please explain to me what “the spirit of the game” means? Where did this term come from, and in what context is it used/applied?

I sometimes feel these are words and expressions thought up by certain individuals as an excuse for their refereeing cowardice and incompetence. The same people who were referees and have now joined the ranks of administrators and bureaucrats within refereeing.

Some are now soccer “lawyers” who come up with fancy wordings and expressions as a way to make up for their inadequacies and shortcomings as match officials. They make the game harder for current referees. Some have had limited experience on the field of play and are now attempting making a name for themselves in the boardroom.

They would do us all a favour if they stayed away from the game and leave it to professionals who know their job.

All I ever asked referees to do was apply the LOTG – no more and no less.

I think the main reason that referees have difficulty with players and team officials during a game is because they stop short of applying the laws according to the FIFA/IFAB manual. In some instances I feel (my opinion) they are afraid of the criticism that might be levelled against them and they are trying to be a “Mr. Nice Guy” in the process.

Let me tell you readers here and now – don’t ever try and be a “Mr. Nice Guy.” It won’t work and will be perceived by the teams and the officials as a sign of weakness. It will get you nowhere except into “hot water” with all concerned.

This kind of approach, if it is being applied and promoted by referee leaders leads to the one single criticism by teams and their players – INCONSISTENCY. In my opinion this inconsistency is the biggest cause of problems for match officials in the modern game.

As I said at the beginning of the blog – refereeing is not for the weak, it’s not for the thin skinned, and it’s not for everyone.

For the ones who do and are officiating I wish you the best of luck and continue the good work. Remember without you there will be no game and that would be a tragedy for all concerned.

Happy Whistling!

Categories: General

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