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Independent refereeing body

In my last blog “enough is enough” I suggested that there should be an independent refereeing organisation set up to control all matters refereeing. This organisation should also manage, train and promote refereeing in all its forms.

It should be responsible for the recruitment, selection, and discipline of match officials for association football (soccer).

It should also be free from all interference from “soccer politicians” who have their own agenda and are not thinking of the interests of men and women who go out week after week, sometimes at great cost and inconvenience to themselves and their families.

I am overwhelmed by the response. I am amazed at the support shown for such an idea. I am equally pleasantly surprised how such an idea could arouse such debate among all and sundry.

My motivation for such an idea, an idea I’ve had for some time now, is the complete lack of support for match officials when managers, club officials, and soccer politicians in general gang up together when they don’t agree with a decision by the referee.

Law 5 (referees) of the Fifa Laws of the Game clearly states “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.” Now what part of that don’t they understand?

We now have a situation where we have a “review committee” who sit in judgement on decisions taken by the match officials (and I’m including assistant referees) some 24 or 48 hours later and decide if the referee made the correct decision or not.

Well what about the Laws of the Game as stated in paragraph 5 above?

Where does that leave the referee and “the refs decision is final”?

What’s the point in having a referee on the field of play in the first place if his decision is going to be overturned by some committee sitting in an office?

Let me state here and now that I am all for fair play and justice. Let me also say that I support structures to make match officiating more competent. And let me conclude this point by saying that referees will get it wrong. They are human – and humans make mistakes.

If the controlling bodies of soccer want to change the current system then the law has to be changed.

You cannot have civil politicians changing the constitution of a country as they go along just because they don’t like something in it. That’s called dictatorship and thankfully there aren’t many of those left in the world today.

I know there will be strong opposition to this idea. I suspect there won’t be many in the corridors of power in football falling over themselves to embrace this change. I imagine there will be cringing among the hangers-on for fear they might lose their little privileges.

Change is inevitable. I think it was the Greek philosopher who once said one thing is certain – things will change.

Refereeing is a stressful job. Refereeing is a dangerous job (I once had a live bullet left in my hotel room). But refereeing can, and is, a most rewarding profession if we are allowed to do our job without interference, persuasion, or intimidation from anyone.

As I mentioned earlier, referees do make mistakes and some have been found to be corrupt – thankfully not too many – so let us set up our own organisation with proper structures and check lists so as to avoid any perception that we are a law unto ourselves. We can then be seen to be what we are, guys who are fair, firm, and devoid of influence from whatever quarter.

We are in it for the good of the game and have no axe to grind with anyone. We just want to do the job to the best of our ability and may the best team win.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments so please keep them coming.

Keep your comments and suggestions coming please.

Happy Whistling
Dr. Errol Sweeney

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