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Shocking weekend for referees

The Premier League in England is believed to be the best in the world – according to the English FA – yet they allow sub-standard referees to handle these games week in and week out.

I cannot tell you how heartbreaking and demoralising it is for me to, not only utter these words, but to actually put them in print.

I wonder if the FA will try to close the gate when the horse has bolted? What I’m saying is, when are the powers-that-be in football, who deal with refereeing matters, going to get up off their collective backsides and introduce structures to arrest the clearly declining standard of match officiating.

Two games in the EPL this last weekend highlighted these deficiencies.

In the Everton v Liverpool game a goal was disallowed for what was perceived to be an offside, yet, and this is the critical point, television replays showed that Suarez was not offside. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

In the Chelsea v Manchester United game there were three major incidents.

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The red card for Ivanovic is not in dispute. However, the referee did not make the decision as he is clearly shown looking to his assistant for “guidance”.

The red card for Torres was clearly wrong and I can see how he (the ref) got it wrong. He was in a bad position. He was running straight up the field instead of running at a 90 degree angle, which is what we were always taught to do.

Johnny Evans (Man U) should have been red carded, not once but twice, as he was guilty of a two-footed tackle later in the game, from which he also escaped without reprimand.

Hernandez came from an offside position (in the goal) to score what proved to be the winning goal

Now I know “Joe Public” has the benefit of replays but these are not Sunday morning referees and assistant referees. They are vastly experienced international officials who handle games at the highest level both in the Premiership and at European and World Cup level on a regular basis.

Yes, we have the benefit of replays. Yes, we have slow motion. No, the referee does not have these facilities.

So the big question – should we go the cricket and rugby way and introduce this sort of technology. Perhaps, but then put it in the Laws of the Game and get on with it.

The other more important point, that I have already mentioned in my “Independent Refereeing Body” proposal, is that there needs to be a root and branch overhaul of the refereeing structure to cleanse it of all “outside” influences, intimidation, and interference from soccer politicians.

The sooner we achieve this the better for all concerned. Then perhaps we’ll have a level playing field where there’s equality for everyone.

It appears that the saying “we are all equal, but some are more equal than others” is alive and well.

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

Happy Whistling
Dr. Errol Sweeney

The Hanging Judge will be a telephonic guest on Monday Night Football on SS3 on Monday, 29 November at 19:30 (SA, CAT, GMT+2).

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