Nani should feel aggrieved
The sending off of Manchester United player NANI for a dangerous tackle on a Real Madrid player in the last round of the Champions League caused enormous controversy among many soccer loving people.
Naturally the Man United fans thought it was unjustified while others, including yours truly, thought the red card was justified.
Now we have a similar incident in the latest round of Champions League games, where Real Madrid’s Benzema commits a similar, if not more dangerous, foul on a Galatasary player but gets off scott free.
I have always been at great pains to be objective and fair and I have to say that this incident going unpunished is not right.
Referees are regularly accused by fans and foe alike of not being consistent and this incident lends more weight to that argument.
In my last blog, and also on the SuperSport television programme “Extra Time”, I referred to the fact that there is a lack of consistency among some of our men-in-black. This decision gives more ammunition to detractors who say that referees are biased towards certain teams. I’m not saying they are biased, but one could be forgiven for thinking so.
I have also been accused of being over protective of referees and arguing in their favour when the decisions they take certainly appear to be incorrect or one sided.
Let me put the record straight once and for all. I will never defend the indefensible. If a referee or assistant referee is wrong then it should not be covered up.
Yes, referees are human, and humans make mistakes.
Coaches and players make mistakes all the time and not a word is uttered. Goal keepers make mistakes and if there was one person on the field of play that could be equated to a referee it is the goal keeper.
One mistake from him and he gets castigated. Likewise, one mistake from the referee and everyone is after his “blood.”
Consistency is what is required.
Consistency by match officials is what players, managers and the general public are looking for.
How many times have we heard that expression “well at least the ref is/was consistent?
The only way to get consistency is for a single coach for Premier League/Premier Soccer League referees, whose job it would be to coach/train/mentor the officials.
This person would have complete control over the referees and it would be his job to ensure that referees and their assistants, to coin an old phrase, sing off the same hymn sheet.
He would hold regular meetings and seminars with the match officials where incidents would be discussed, roleplays acted out, and DVDs of games of refereeing mistakes viewed in a constructive and objective manner.
Following on from these seminars the referees would then instructed to carry out their duty in a fair, unbiased and impartial way and anyone deviating from laid down procedures would be removed from the senior panel of referees for a period of time.
Consistency, as I’ve already said, is the name of the game and for the most part that’s all players, coaches, and the general public are looking for.
Until that is achieved the same old arguments will continue and the referees will be the butt of every wag and joker and none of us want that because the job is difficult enough as it is.
Dr Errol Sweeney
World Cup Referee Coach and Mentor