The sight of referee Mike Jones collapsing in a heap after being “eye poked” by Sissoko of Newcastle leaves one with a sense of perplexity.
The incident happened in the Newcastle vs. Southampton game yesterday in the Premier League.
For those of you who didn’t see the incident, the referee was in conference with Moussa Sissoko who was standing, and another player, Paulo Gazzainiga who was on the ground when suddenly the player on the ground pushed Sissoko. In the process Sissoko stepped backwards as if off balance and appeared to raise his hand which came in contact with the referees’ face.
The referee, as if struck by lightning, immediately turned half circle and collapsed to the ground and appeared to be writhing in agony.
It brings back memories of another such incident in 1998 when Paulo Di Canio, who was playing for Sheffield United at the time, became so incensed at being red carded by referee Paul Alcock that he pushed the unfortunate official.
What happened next was like something out of a Laurel and Hardy movie.
Mr. Alcock collapsed to the ground like a sack of potatoes, which in my opinion was grossly over exaggerated. The level of force used by the player was not in keeping with the reaction of the referee.
Mr. Di Canio was banned for 11 games and fined £10K for his indiscretion.
Are referees now taking a leaf out of the player’s books by engaging in this kind of chicanery?
Are match officials now going to collapse prostrate on the ground at the slightest contact with the players?
Will referees now be accused of “cheating” and “diving” every time they get hit with the ball?
How can referees now punish players when some appear to be doing exactly the same thing?
This is a new low in English refereeing. At a time when the match officials are already under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons as a result of the head of the PGMOL Mike Riley apologizing to West Brom for a penalty kick awarded to Chelsea by referee Andre Mariner, we now have this comedy show with the star of the show being referee Mike Jones.
I have said many times in the past that I do not criticise referees because of the difficult job they do, but quite honestly, this is ridiculous.
To make matters even worse Mr. Jones continued with the game with a piece of cotton stuffed up his nose. That suggests to me that he was poked in the nose and not in the eye.
Do you collapse in a heap when poked in the nose?
There are times when I feel ashamed of my ex colleagues. The level of professionalism with some referees leaves a lot to be desired. But please not this. Let’s not get down to their level; that is, to the level of those players who regularly ply their art of diving and exaggerate their “injuries.” We ought to be and we are better than that!