Those following MLS will have noted a couple of red cards for dissent last week and the reaction of surprise from those affected which, while it seemed genuine, needed Paul Rejer, Development Manager for the Professional Referees Organisation, to come out and address soon afterwards.
Despite the fact that each club had a referee visit in which the Laws relating to dissent were reiterated to the players prior to the season, the clampdown has been questioned.
Of course the same applied during the summer, when referees were asked to get tough on this issue both prior to Euro 16 and the commencement of this season’s league programmes in Europe.
The problem is, there is never any misunderstanding when you visit a club pre-season, I have done it myself! Everyone is friendly and relaxed at this time, when the pressure is not at its highest point, but that changes as soon as the heat is on. That does not mean, however, that the Law itself is not perfectly clear.
There is a difference between protesting and abusing the officials, of course, and don’t forget the offence specifically includes actions as well as words. Clubs would always claim to be surprised when they learned some of the things their own players had said to me, I can tell you!
If a player is saying, “You always do this to us”, or “every time we see you, you refuse us a penalty” that is more serious than more natural expressions of disappointment or even swearing.
My own personal line in the sand always came if my honesty was questioned or a player, such as a goalkeeper, was running 50 metres or so to protest. I could accept heated comments from those involved in the situation or those who simply thought I had got it wrong, but for someone to have all that time to think while they are running over and then still abuse you is unacceptable.
I also used to tell them, as I produced the yellow card, I had a
much better view of this than you did!
I will reluctantly admit that referees must move with the times and that the word “f*ck”, which was a big deal at the time I started as a referee, can sometimes now be every second or third word for players, managers and spectators alike. I don’t like it but we must accept that the intention behind its use is not what it used to be.
Likewise, teachers, policemen, even parents used to be able to assert authority without getting a response like “why should I do that”. What used to be normal dialogue at under-19 level I now find common at under-8 level, and there is no hiding from that fact.
We can deal with dissent without gimmicks and I am glad personally that FIFA will not allow the kind of shirt featuring a camera that we are seeing as an experiment in rugby. Surely, to get the effect those behind the idea are after, the camera needs to be at eye level, not chest level, anyway!
There are two reasons I don’t believe this is any good for referees or players, and that it is only potentially good for TV ratings… firstly, if you tell the players you are miked up beforehand you will not get an authentic example of their behaviour in the match, because they do not want to look bad. Secondly, if you don’t tell them you have a mic, that really is not fair to them.
Until next time, when I will examine the latest IFAB agenda, vi ses (see you later) and held og lykke (good luck)!