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Why are referees explaining their decisions?

I'd like to open by saying a big thanks to all who took the trouble to respond to my recent blogs, whether you agree with me or not.

Actually I'm overwhelmed and very pleased that you took the trouble to respond.

Never did I think there was such a strong undercurrent of opinion on football and particularly refereeing decisions. Please keep them coming and I promise I will respond to every letter, question or comment I get.

There are a few items I'd like to deal with in this column. Firstly, the issue of referees apologising for making perceived mistakes.

Now this may be all well and good in other circumstances but it does not apply to soccer refereeing.

Yes, it's true that match officials make mistakes and, guess what, they'll continue to make mistakes because they are like you and me - human. However, in the hurly-burly that is modern day football, it isn't necessary to apologise for making a mistake.

I've even heard some suggest that soccer players, like rugby players, should be allowed to ask a referee why a particular decision has gone against them.

The difference here is that rugby players accept the decision of the referee and the explanation - soccer players don't. To explain will inevitably lead to a debate, which will quickly escalate into an argument.

It has become common practice now-a-days, particularly and especially in the English Premier League, for referees’ decisions to be overturned some 24 or 48 hours after a game. This, in my opinion, is very wrong.

The law (Law 5 - Referees) 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."

It further states:

"The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or fourth official, provided he has not restarted play or terminated the match."

Why is this happening?

Why are decisions being overturned?

I don't know. I'm beginning to wonder if "pressure" isn't being brought to bear from other quarters. The jury's out on that one.

The second issue is the automatic red card being issued to players who foul the "last defender”. I just wish commentators would stop using that phrase, "the last defender”.

The so-called last defender has nothing to do with it.

The law says that "if a player is denied a goal-scoring opportunity " then a red card will be issued.

In other words, there could be four defenders and it shouldn't make any difference.

If the attacker has an opportunity to score and is prevented from doing so, then the perpetrator goes for an early shower. I hope that's cleared up once and for all.

Finally, there are many "white hot" atmospheres in football when it comes to local derbies and the Soweto derby between arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates ranks among them.

As a seasoned aficionado of Soweto derbies, I know what a "white hot" atmosphere that can be.

I well remember my very first one in Orlando Stadium. Now they were real derbies and the atmosphere that day was hot, very hot, and that had nothing to do with the South African sunshine.

Happy whistling
Dr Errol Sweeney

Twitter: @dr_errol

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