Law 5 of the FIFA Laws of the Game states quite 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.” I highlighted that particular part for a specific reason.
It goes on to state, “the referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.”
Now I think that is pretty clear. So I ask myself these questions:
What part of that do soccer administrators NOT understand?
Is there anything confusing about the wording?
Why are soccer politicians interfering with the Laws of the Game?
The answer is probably pressure from clubs and their officials, although they’ll never admit it.
In a recent game in the MLS a red card produced by referee Ricardo Salazar was rescinded after the game by a panel of people masquerading as soccer politicians who have no right to take the action they took (see video of incident below).
(Note from the editors: It is somewhat unclear what prompted Mr. Salazar to issue a red card to Seattle’s Martins. However, what is crystal clear is that Mr. Salazar was on top of the play. Quite literally, other than the two players involved, no one was any closer, no one had a better view of the incident and no one was in a more advantageous position to make this call. Unlike the commentary on the MLS website, we also believe that the red card was not issued for a foul but rather for violent conduct committed by Martins. Under these circumstances, the decision to rescind the red card was highly questionable in our opinion.)
This kind of behaviour is gaining momentum having started in the “home” of soccer, England, and appears to be spreading like wild fire, much, in my opinion, to the detriment of the game.
More and more these day’s referees are having their decisions, not only queried and questioned, but actually overturned some 24 or 48 hours later. This is doing irreparable damage to the game and the reputations and good standing of the unfortunate “men-in-black” whose life is difficult enough without this sort of interfering nonsense
The debate on whether or not to have such a panel sitting in judgement after a game will continue to rage on, no doubt
For the most part people will be subjective and insist that “their” player(s) did nothing wrong. That’s the nature of the human beast.
Are we now, as referees, going to have every decision in a game questioned?
Are we, as referees, going to have to wait until after the game to see if more of our decisions are going to be overturned?
Do clubs really have that much power that they can go against the LOTG when they perceive to have been aggrieved?
Then I ask myself another few questions:
What’s the point of referees turning up at all for a game?
Why not have a match official in the stand watching the game and reviewing every incident and making a judgement call after the action replays?
Or better still, why not have a “panel of experts” sit in judgement on the game when it’s over and we’ll get the result one or two days later?
My advice to Federations and Associations:
Keep your collective noses out of our game and let our men and women referee, who put in a lot of time and effort for very little reward, get on with the job which you guys don’t have the guts to do.
Stop interfering with the FIFA Laws of the Game which have been there for many years.
And most importantly, stop overturning refereeing decisions just because YOU don’t like what is happening or disagree with a call from the referee.
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.