AARs - an AARful waste of time
I have to say right from the start that I was more than pleasantly surprised at the interest shown in my blog for SuperSport.com.
I left SA at the end of 1998 and I didn't think anyone would still remember me. Thankfully that is not the case and there are still a few “old dogs” left with whom I can reminisce as we sit on the veranda in the evening and watch the sun go down.
I was also quite surprised at the number of people who suggested that I return to SA and involve myself in soccer again. Mmm… there’s a thought. But in what capacity, I ask? It has been mentioned that I have a vast wealth of experience in refereeing – that’s true both on and off the field.
It’s also been suggested that I enter some other arena within the soccer fraternity, something to which I had not given any thought as my field (excuse the pun) of expertise is refereeing and to which I have dedicated more than 40 - yes 40 years - of my life.
So what now? Well I’ll sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, or keep an eye out for the postman to bring me the offers. Sorry, I’m just being facetious. Back to matters more serious.
The European Championships are now over and gone for another four years and despite everything I thought the match officials performed quite well.
I watched Pierluigi Collina – him of the staring eyes that go through you and a look that would turn back a battleship – taking some heat after the unfortunate AAR (additional assistant referee) from Hungary failed to indicate that the ball had crossed the line in the Ukraine v England game.
Mr Collina, in his press conference to try and take the “heat” out of the situation, mentioned that the match officials at that stage had got 97% of their decisions correct.
Now that would be fantastic in any walk of life, but when it’s a major tournament and taking into consideration that in that 3% there is a disallowed goal from an AAR who was only metres away and a decision that could have had major ramifications, is quite frankly, not good enough.
I want to state here and now that I would be the last one to criticise referees and their assistants. I was there. I know how hard it is. I know the pressures.
Remember Anders Frisk, the Swedish referee who retired early from refereeing because of threats to him and his family from some Chelsea fans?
Believe me I know all about the death threats. The snide remarks. The innuendos.
The cynical threat to me some years ago when a 44-calibre bullet was left in my hotel room just before a very important relegation game. Yes sir, I know all about it.
Be that as it may, when an AAR is that close to the action, he shouldn’t miss it, but he did and that’s the end of the matter.
Of course the refs will take the flak for the dilly-dallying of the soccer politicians, and Fifa are the main culprits here. They are the “generals” who will send out the “foot soldiers” to do the dirty work and then blame them when things go wrong. That’s what generals are good at.
Do you want to know what my “definition” of a politician is? That’s a man/woman who will give YOUR life for his/her country.
Thankfully it seems that this misconceived, badly thought out experiment of having AARs will soon be consigned to history and a TMO (television match official) as in cricket and rugby will be implemented sooner rather than later.
This will allow the “men-in-black” to get on with their other duties, which are numerous, I might add, and not have to worry about whether the ball crossed the goal line between the upright and under the cross bar.
Please keep your comments coming whether you agree or not with me.
Contact me with questions on all matters refereeing at the addresses below
Dr. Errol Sweeney