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Hypocrisy among managers and players

The recent outburst by the manager of Glasgow Celtic Football Club displayed double standards and hypocrisy of the highest order. It certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth of all match officials.

Brendan Rogers, the Celtic Manager said: “It was the worst refereeing decision I have ever witnessed in my entire life” when referring to a penalty that was awarded to Ross County against his team in the Scottish Premier League last weekend.

In fairness to him (Rogers) there was absolutely no physical contact between his player and the opposition player to warrant a penalty but it was awarded and helped Ross County get a 2-2 draw. Yes, the referee got it completely wrong, but given his (the ref's) position I can fully understand why he gave it.

You could argue that the referee was out of position and that’s something he will have to answer at a Referee Disciplinary Committee meeting, and rightly so.

That being said all of the blame must be heaped on the player who set out to deliberately, knowingly, and consciously hoodwink the referee to “win” a penalty for his team. He must have known fully what he was doing and yet made no attempt to indicate in any way whatsoever to the man-in-the-middle that he had acted wrongly and illegally.

Rogers lost no time in condemning the referee and made his feelings very clear to the waiting media as to what he thought of the decision.

Now let’s turn the issue on its head.

Players are doing this all the time. There isn’t a game that goes by without some players, regardless of whom they play for, cheating, diving, and lying to try and get a free kick, throw in, or even a penalty awarded in their favour. And yes, they’ll even try and get their fellow professional yellow carded or sent off.

Sometimes this happens very soon after the game has commenced. Remember they’ve just shaken hands with their opponents and the match officials and committed themselves to the so-called “Fair Play” programme.

The “Fifa Fair Play Award” is a Fifa recognition of exemplary behaviour that promotes the spirit of fair play and compassion in association football (soccer) around the world. It was first awarded in 1987 but the principle, in my opinion, has been lost

I am fully convinced that players are told to behave in this dishonest way by their coaches/managers to win any advantage that will favour their team. I’ve seen it happening many times.

Incidentally these sort of shenanigans are not new. It's been going for some time. Yes, I remember it during my time refereeing in the PSL and the NSL before that.

I remember one particular coach encouraging his player(s) to fall down because he wanted to come on the field in the pretence of attending to an “injury” when all the time his motive was to convey additional instructions to the player.

Fortunately I recognised the intent of the player and actually witnessed what the coach was endeavoring to do. I refused to stop the game to allow him on. Even when the ball was deliberately put out of play by a teammate I insisted that the throw-in be taken immediately thereby preventing the coach from engaging in what was clearly a deliberate act of very bad sportsmanship.

The player quickly got to his feet and continued with the game. I remember saying to him sarcastically “you recovered quite quickly, eh”? His reply was “no harm in taking a chance Mr Ref.”

The extent to which teams will go to win free kicks and so on is astounding and quite shocking. Week in, week out we see it and worse still the refs are either giving in to it, or firmly believe that a player has been interfered with and so award the free kick.

Getting back to the referees. I’m not saying they are entirely blameless. Some of them just don’t have the fortitude to make the hard decisions, thereby, in my opinion, encouraging players to indulge in this dishonest behaviour.

We are the guardians of the game. We have the powers and authority. We have to stand tall against all odds and do what is correct - not right or wrong because right or wrong is subjective, to ensure that both teams get a fair crack of the whip.

We have to have a thorough knowledge of the Fifa Laws of the Game and their interpretations so that there is no misunderstanding when we award a decision for or against their team.

We won’t get every decision correct I know, but at least we can leave the field of play with our heads held high in the knowledge that we did our best and can never be accused of being party to the cheating and diving that some very high profile, and some lesser players, indulge in.

Let’s get back to the Fifa Fair Play motto and hope that players and managers will also show some respect for the Beautiful Game.

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