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Do referees favour certain teams?

The recent controversy over the removal of EPL referee Kevin Friend from the Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspurs game, because it was alleged that he is a Leicester City fan, is still causing shock waves in refereeing and other circles.

Mr Friend was instead appointed to the Newcastle v Manchester City game the following night.

This was followed by what most observers say was a somewhat erratic performance by his colleague Jonathan Moss in the Leicester City v West Ham United game, in which the referee awarded “dubious” penalties and red- carded the home team’s prolific striker Jamie Vardy.

Mr Vardy was, in my opinion, correctly dismissed for a foul in the first half and a dive in the West Ham penalty area in the second half.

Players are becoming very adept today at feigning injury and creating situations where it appears they are being fouled. They are now managing to drag their foot in such a way that it appears to become entangled with an opponent in their pursuit of a spot kick.

They are also going to ground at the slightest touch from an opponent and writhing in agony clutching their face, even though the point of contact is the foot or shin.

Some referees are falling for this and awarding undeserving penalties and free kicks, while some are beginning to see through this unnecessary, unsporting, and outrageous behaviour.

What’s even more disgusting is ex-players, who are now TV pundits in studios, supporting this kind of behaviour. I heard former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher saying that players have a right to go down if they are touched.

A Right? Really? Yet they say the EPL is “the best league in the world” because of the physicality involved. You can’t have it both ways guys.

But back to the referees and their favourite teams.

I was always told that I could not be a supporter of a team and still appear to be impartial and unbiased. To some extent this is true.

Referees should, at all times, referee according to the Laws of the Game without fear or favour to any team or player.

I once red-carded my brother-in-law for a bad tackle and I believe that’s the way it should be.

I suppose that human nature being what it is, some referees DO have favourite teams but they shouldn’t divulge it to all and sundry. They should keep it to themselves, particularly when they are officiating in the very league that their favourite team is playing.

What are the implications of a referee favouring a certain club?

Some might say a lot while others might say nothing at all.

In my opinion it’s the optics and perceptions that come into play if it is known that a match official has allegiances towards a certain team.

  1. Will he be fair and just in his decision-making?
  2. Will he be impartial when it comes to making crucial decisions?
  3. Will he favour the team he supports over the opposition?
  4. Will every contentious decision be queried?

I believe that referees should declare to their refereeing association if they favour a certain team. They should then be excluded from the league in which that team is playing, as every decision they make, and every yellow and red card they issue, will be scrutinised and debated.

It’s as much to protect them (the refs), as it is to alleviate any suspicion that something is untoward.

Happy Whistling
Dr Errol Sweeney
Twitter – dr_errol

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