“Vultures” gather at every opportunity referee makes a mistake.

I’ve said it many, many times before and I will repeat it again in case some have not heard or read it.

Referees are human, and humans make mistakes. Sorry for being human.

The performance by one referee from South Africa, Daniel Bennett, in an African Cup of Nations recently was roundly criticized by many people. Some of the criticism was justified as he did make a couple of mistakes which according to the “experts” nearly cost one team their place in the quarter-finals.


Please remember when you criticize that you need to be objective, unbiased, knowledgeable and fair.

This may appear to be in defence of this particular referee, but it’s not. It’s in defence of all referees and their assistants who perform an unthankful and unrewarding job and without whom there can be no game.

The need for more resources to be put into match officiating is long overdue. The very people in authority who are the first to point fingers are the same ones who drag their feet when the aforementioned resources are requested.

They expect our men and women-in-black to perform a very difficult job with little or no training in comparison to what their national teams receive.

They pour millions into so-called development programs for soccer at grass roots level.

They make sure they get their photo in the paper opening a new pitch here and a new stadium there, but the people whom we are led to believe are important and without whom a game cannot proceed – the referees – are always found wanting.

My message to soccer politicians, club owners, coaches, newspaper scribes and fans is the following:

  • Stop whining when your team is affected by what you perceive to be a bad refereeing decision.
  • Try taking up a refereeing course and see how much you really know about the Laws of the Game.
  • Educate yourself on the interpretations of the Laws of the Game as set out by FIFA.
  • Tell your players to start behaving themselves and stop their deliberate cheating by diving in the penalty area, or looking to get their fellow professionals yellow carded or sent off.
  • Let’s have some honesty in the game and maybe the referees will have an easier time in trying to carry out a very difficult task in sometimes extremely difficult circumstances.

Having said all that, it also has to be said that there are some of our “colleagues” who are still blowing their whistles and waving their flags who are NOT “clean” and those cases are well documented.

Not all match officials are clean – not at all, but the vast majority are. Let’s give them some space and credit for what they do – trying to arbitrate between two teams of overpaid, spoiled and extremely arrogant people who will stop at nothing to achieve their goal (excuse the pun).

If that means crucifying the match officials in the process, they will do it.

I call on my former colleagues to implement the Laws of the Game without fear or favour and regardless of the game, competition or competitor.

Referees, please, please, please JUST DO YOUR JOB.

Happy Whistling!

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.

Categories: General

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