Respect - what respect?
Uefa, the controlling body for association football in Europe, won the Willie Daume World Fair Play Trophy for its promotion of respect and campaign against all forms of racism or attacks on football’s spirit, at the Uefa Euros in 2008.
The word “Respect” was given considerable initial exposure at the tournament in Austria and Switzerland via initiatives such as respecting the game, the opposition’s national anthem, the referees, environment and diversity.
The respect logo was visible on every shirt and every drinks bottle.
That logo is still visible today and can be seen on advertising boards around football grounds as well.
Make no mistake, I’m very much in favour of this initiative, but I hate hypocrisy and there’s plenty of that around.
My issue with the “respect” initiative is when it comes to referees and their assistants.
Where does it say in the LOTG (Laws of the Game) that match officials can be the “whipping boys” for over-rated, over-paid prima donnas who think they have a divine right to take out their frustrations on the unfortunate men-in-black?
Where does it say in the LOTG that managers and coaches can do likewise?
Where does it say that fans can direct verbal and sometimes physical violence at referees just because they don’t understand or agree with a decision against their team?
I see it more and more these days and referees have to clamp down of this kind of unruly behaviour.
I felt the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson in 1993 (ok, “respect” wasn’t in operation then) when he lambasted me for sending the Manchester United and England captain off in a pre-season friendly in Johannesburg against Arsenal.
“The referee wanted to be the star of the show” was his comment when asked about the red card I gave to his captain. He never bothered to enquire as to why the red card was issued in the first place.
Well, I can tell you now Sir Alex, and anyone else who cares to know that the well respected Mr Robson called me a f***ing cheat when I refused to award his team a penalty. Not much respect for referees there now, is there?
Law 12 states quite clearly that “a player or substituted player is sent off (red card) the field of play if he uses offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.” And that means a straight red.
That can apply to the referee, an opposing player, a team-mate, or a spectator.
It is happening with increasing regularity that the authority of the match officials is being challenged at every hands turn. So I ask myself... is it the players fault? Is it the coach’s fault?
I can make excuses for the spectators because many of them don’t know the LOTG, but there is no excuse for the aforementioned players or coaches. They’re supposed to know and, in fact, one of the modules in the coaching manual is on the LOTG.
Football is big business today and so long as there is vast sums of money at stake the desire to win will far outweigh all other norms of human decency.
Respect? What respect.
Please keep your comments coming whether you agree or not with me.
Dr. Errol Sweeney