Johannesburg - There were suggestions in the past - and some came to fruition, although I can’t remember when - that referees should be assessed by managers or coaches of participating teams.
In other words the club bosses would write a report on the referee and his assistants after they refereed their team and submit it to the league.
What? Are you crazy?
I vaguely remember something like that was suggested when I was general manager of refereeing at the Premier Soccer League in South Africa. I rejected the idea out of hand and made my point very clear to the authorities at the league as to why it was a bad idea.
Picture the scene. A team has a bad day. They make mistakes all over the place. They get what is, in their opinion, a “raw deal” from the referee, and then sit down and submit a report to the league on that referee. Again, I say: “What? Are they serious?”
Please tell me in words of one syllable how teams or managers could be objective. Please tell me how they could be honest (and I’m not suggesting that managers and coaches are not honest, heaven forbid) and say the referee was good, even though he gave a penalty against their team and red-carded one of their players?
They would have to be incredibly honest and fair-minded to do that, which I’m sure they are not and have proven it over and over again.
Since time immemorial, referees have been the focus of attention and criticism when teams and their supporters want to take out their frustration after losing a game.
This past week, Mark Hughes, the manager of Southampton in the English Premier League, criticised referee Jon Moss for “costing his side two valuable points against Everton”.
His team, who are in serious trouble and could be relegated depending on how other results go, were leading 1-0 in the 85th minute when Moss awarded a free kick from which Everton equalised through a Tom Davies deflection.
Hughes’ contention was that the assistant was only a couple of metres away and didn’t see anything wrong, while the referee was, in the opinion of Hughes, 30m away and decided that a foul had been committed and awarded the free kick.
Of course, what Hughes may not be aware of is that the referee has the final say, regardless of what advice his assistant gives him.
Hughes didn’t hold back on his criticism of the official. He said the referee allowed Everton to take a free kick about 10 to 15 yards from where it should have been taken.
I wonder if he would have said anything had the shoe been on the other foot and his team were given a free kick 10 or 15 yards from its correct position. I doubt it.
I see players do this all the time. A free kick is awarded and they move the ball forward with no sanction from the referee or his assistant. I can agree with Hughes on that, but what’s good for one should be good for all.
I’m not saying it’s right, but it happens and the referee assessor needs to make that point in his post-match meeting with the officials.
Given all that has been said above, can anyone tell me how a team manager could be objective, fair and honest in their assessment of match officials? How would it be humanly possible - given that we are all human and tend to side with our own - to be fair-minded and completely neutral?
Referees need to be independent and neutral with an independent refereeing body (where have you heard that before?) who will handle all things refereeing without interference or influence from soccer politicians because they are only interested in themselves and their clubs.
Just like the judiciary, we also need to be independent.
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