I have long been an advocate of an Independent Referee’s Body being set up to control all matters refereeing. This Body should also manage, train, control and promote refereeing in all its forms.
It should be responsible for the recruitment, selection, and discipline of match officials for association football (soccer).
It should be free from all interference from what I call soccer politicians who sometimes appear to have their own agenda and are not thinking of the interests of men and women who go out week after week sometimes at great cost and inconvenience to themselves and their families.
I remember mentioning this to some ex colleagues and I was amazed at the positive response to such a suggestion.
My motivation for such an idea, an idea I’ve had for some time now, is the complete lack of support for match officials when managers, club officials and soccer politicians in general appear to gang up together when they don’t agree with a decision of the referee.
For the purposes of this article and to emphasize once again, Law 5 of the FIFA Laws of the Game states very clearly “the decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.”
Pretty clear I think, but not to all it would appear. So what about the referee’s decision being final?
Let me state here and now that I am all for fair play and justice.
Let me also say that I support structures to make match officiating more competent.
And let me conclude this little rant by saying that referees will get it wrong. They are, after all, only human.
If the controlling bodies of soccer want to change the current system then the law has to be changed.
You cannot have civil politicians changing the constitution of a country as they go along just because they don’t like something in it. That’s called dictatorship and thankfully there aren’t many of those left in the world today.
I know there will be strong opposition to this idea.
I suspect there won’t be many in the corridors of power in football falling over themselves to embrace this change.
And I imagine there will be cringing among the hangers-on for fear they might lose their little privileges.
Change is inevitable. It will happen.
Refereeing is a stressful job. Refereeing is a dangerous job and sometimes lethal. But refereeing can, and is, a most rewarding profession if we are allowed to do our job without interference, persuasion or intimidation from anyone.
As I mentioned earlier, referees do make mistakes and some have been found to be corrupt – thankfully not too many – so let us set up our own organisation with proper structures and check lists so as to avoid any perception that we are a law unto ourselves.
We can then be seen to be what we are, guys and gals who are fair, firm, and devoid of influence from whatever quarter.
We are in it for the good of the game and have no axe to grind with anyone. We just want to do the job to the best of our ability and may the best team win
About the author: Dr Errol Sweeney (PhD) BBA Dip.PM, aka “The Hanging Judge,” is a former L.o.I and SA Premier League Referee, World Cup Referee & Assistant Referee Coach & Mentor. He coached/mentored a referee to 2 World Cups, Olympic Games, Confederations Cup, 2 U/17 FIFA World Cups and 4 African Nations Cups. He also writes on his own blog at SuperSport.