Refs – grow a pair and be strong!

It’s quite disturbing to see the number of match officials, particularly the men-in-the-middle, who appear unable or unwilling to make a decision based on what they see in front of them before, during and after a game.

There are times when it is quite obvious to players, officials and the general public that a serious breach of the Laws of the Game has occurred, yet the match officials appear not to have seen it.

In English slang terms this is called “bottling it.” In other words, the ref “chickened out” and stepped back from doing his job.

In my opinion match officials who engage in this kind of refereeing cowardice should be stood down for at least 3 months and their future in that particular league, and especially if it is in the senior leagues, questioned.

One only has to think back to the World Cup final in South Africa in 2010 when English referee Howard Webb could have, and should have, issued two red cards to Dutch players in the first half. He didn’t and went on to issue 14, yes I said fourteen yellow cards in total.

I don’t want to labour on one particular incident or referee, but lack of decisive action by the referee on that occasion sent out a message, in my opinion, to other players from both teams, and the coaching staff that the referee was “soft” and what happened after that is now history.

  • I’m not saying that referees should go out “looking” for certain players because of their reputations.
  • I’m not saying that referees should have any preconceived ideas about any game or any players.
  • I’m not saying that referees should make mental notes because of any incident that may have happened in other game.

I am saying that they should deal with a problem as it arises and take the necessary action to ensure that there will be no repetition by any other player or players.

Let me give you an example.

Some years ago I went to assess a referee. He had booked (yellow carded) a player in the first half. The same player committed a similar, if not more serious offence in the second half

I waited for the mandatory second yellow to be produced but it never came.

At the end of the game I went in the dressing room to ask him why he hadn’t produced the second yellow and then red card (for two yellows). His reply was “oh, I thought about it.”

I told him that that was his problem – thinking about it. I also said that the more one thinks about giving a 2nd yellow card or a red card, the more likely one is NOT going to give the 2nd yellow card. Don’t think about it – do it.

I recommended that he be suspended from Premier league games for 3 months and dropped down two divisions.

It worked. He became a better referee as a result and his reputation grew to the extent that the following year he was appointed to the FIFA list.

To all referees and aspiring referees out there I give you this advice – grow a pair and be strong.


Happy Whistling!

Categories: General

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