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Respect


Guest sheridans_world
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Guest sheridans_world

RESPECT.

 

 

 

The football league has put a lot of time and money in promoting the ‘respect’ program. The scheme simply asks that players, managers and fans respect the officials, that is, the referee, the two assistants and the fourth official. As we are all aware, John Sheridan got sent to the stands in our recent clash with Tranmere for Improper Conduct.

 

Dissent towards the officials has been a hot topic over the last few years. Question is, how can you stop this? Television has interfered with decision making, allowing commentators to analyse frame-by-frame images of incidents. Goal line technology, cited as a solution to several problems (most recently the ‘goal’ in the Reading vs. Watford match) has been tested. Recently, Graham (three yellows) Poll has been invited onto television programmes to give his own view on incidents, to allow the (previously silenced) referee’s view on the decisions.

 

So, to the dissent in the first place, over the last few seasons Chelsea has been highlighted as one of the most dissenting clubs, along with Manchester United. As we have all seen on match of the day or sky sports highlights, up to seven players surround a referee. Complaining at decisions in this way not only intimidates the referee but also undermines his authority. The FA advised officials that players who participate in this activity should be booked. Has this happened? No. Has this stopped the players from gathering around the ref? No.

 

For the officials to have the respect of the players they have to earn it. We have many top-level and very well-known referee’s who have all made appalling mistakes. They have, however, made more (much less publicised) very good decisions. It seems that whenever a referee makes a big mistake, they are pounced upon by the players, managers, fans, commentators and the national media.

 

The answer, for many, is to bring in video technology, allowing officials to call upon video replays during the course of a match to assist them in making a decision. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Rob Styles apologised to Bolton this week for awarding a penalty to Manchester United when he shouldn’t have. This decision can only have been reached by watching video replays. Surely, this weakens not only the referee, but his decisions, the other official’s decisions and thus the FA. At every game the FA has four representatives, being the ref, the linesman and the fourth official. Can these officials be undermined by slow-motion video playbacks and yet still be respected? Of course, a big factor in this decision by Styles was the way Ronaldo went down, meaning that not just the officials, but also the players, must show respect for each-other. As for the video highlights, you only have to look at the back page of the Oldham Chronicle tonight to see that a video replay was wrongly interpreted for Oldham rugby at the weekend, Doncaster were awarded a controversial try which ultimately affected the game.

 

Goal line technology has been hotly debated, with it ‘only’ being 95% effective in the recent tests; FIFA rejected the technology stating it ‘was not reliable enough’. If you took a referees decisions over the course of a 90 minute game, would you accept 95% reliability, because I’m fairly sure (however I have no evidence to back this up) that a referees decision’s would be around 95% accurate during a 90 minute period.

 

‘I’m missing a large portion of the argument’, I hear you cry. The laws of the game are written as such that interpretation is a large part of the referee’s decision making process. This is the reason that many referees are accused of getting decisions wrong, yet from the angle they see incidents at, they appear either more, or less, serious, depending upon the decision. For example, take Sean Gregan’s tackle near the half-way line vs. Hartlepool for his sending off. Personally, after seeing the highlights, I would have said it was a late tackle but it wasn’t dangerous as the Hartlepool player was well clear of Gregan. If you are the referee and your view is obstructed by Reuben Hazell tracking back and all you see is Gregan charging in with a two-footed tackle and you see a Hartlepool player go flying, what decision can you make, especially if you think Gregan is the last man? It is a different perspective of the incident and shows the opening in the law to ‘interpretation’; this interpretation is the officials and only officials at that point in time. Many commentators, fans, players and managers can guess the official’s interpretation of the incident but their interpretations will not include previous incidents in the game which often sway the referee’s decisions.

 

Many of you watch Oldham week-in, week-out and see referee’s making decisions on real time play. We also see referee’s giving players ‘chances’ before booking them. We will see Sean Gregan get a talking to three or four times before he gets a yellow card. Once again, this refers back to the ref’s interpretation of three or four incidents and whether, cumulatively, they warrant a booking. Of course, none of use know which tackle warranted the booking, was it the first, second, third, or fourth? This inconstancy again hinders the official’s ability to command respect when making decisions.

 

Now to Graham Poll, Poll is famous for brandishing three yellow cards at the same player, during a world cup match, before sending him off. Poll was regarded as one of the best referee’s in English football, yet he made a basic error. Once again the ‘95%’ statistic come into play, after watching that match in full at the time, my opinion was that he officiated the game very well and his only mistake was the three yellow cards to one player. Had Poll continued to officiate matches in England, would he ever be respected after making a mistake of that magnitude? Of course, the original idea to bring in Yellow and Red cards can be attributed to a referee, Ken Aston, who formed the idea on the simply traffic light system.

 

After everything is considered, dissent, television replays, goal line technology, referee’s interpretation and commentator’s interpretation (including Graham Poll), can we finally establish that all referee’s can be respected? The simple answer is, yes. If all players, managers, fans and commentators can understand the referee’s point of view (rather than the view of one ex-footballer who makes his money commentating (Alan Hansen esq)) then the beautiful game can be improved to no end. Lest we forget that this is all on the back of outlawing and successfully making racism socially unacceptable within the game.

 

It is in my humble opinion that the game we know as football (or soccer) can change the opinion of even the hardiest fan. You only have to look at the outlawing and subsequent changing in the social attitude towards racism that the football league can be a very powerful body. Referee’s, linesman and any other official can be respected and will be respected. The respect campaign will reap excellent results, as long as the football league sticks by their guns.

 

 

 

Sheridans_World

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I think the lack of respect given to referees is so far rooted, no highly publicised campaign will change it.

 

Just look at the Tim Cahill sending off over the weekend. I only saw the MOD highlights and watched as he put in a classic yellow card and a bit challenge. I continued to watch as he refused to acknowledge the referees calls and whistle (which, unless he was deaf he couldn't fail to hear) and eventually ended up with a red card.

 

I'm convinced that the ref made his decision based on a combination of the foul and Cahill's petulance.

 

Now, let's see who else picked up on this child-like posturing. Was it his captain on the field, in a position to usher him to the ref, respectful cap in hand? No.

 

Was it his manager, who could have remained tight-lipped to the press but clear to the player how he'd let himself, his club and the fans down? No.

 

Not even those celebrity greats of failed England (and Scotland) teams past, the MOD pundits acknowledged his behaviour.

 

No, I'm afraid that for as long as these preening, puckering 'footballers' continue to earn the sort of money that keeps the credit crunch in perspective, the only respect we're likely to see from them is the odd car park acknowledgement of their team mates' new wheels.

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