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FA

    I am clear that Match Officials at all levels of Football should have a thorough knowledge of the Laws of the game. That is why since 1981 I have worked with the iconic Master of Movement artist Paul Trevillion producing hundreds of strips answering questions in the Laws Of The Game.

    However in the heat of the battle top referee Keith Stroud recently awarded an indirect free kick when encroachment at the taking of a penalty kick took place and the goal having been scored was disallowed. The law is clear in that in this situation the penalty kick should be retaken. However after discussion with his colleagues the referee went with the advice offered by one of his assistant referees and incorrectly awarded an indirect free kick.

    The error hit the headlines and whilst it impacted on the score it did not impact on the result. I have no doubt that a suspension was appropriate and for me three games should be sufficient. However at such an important part of the season Keith Stroud has apparently been served with a 28 day suspension and his colleagues 14 days.

    This frankly is draconian and means that Keith might be punished by a loss of five or more games. When I look at the recent punishments that are handed out to managers it appears to me that match officials are soft targets who will not say anything.

    So I will suggest to the Football Association that they need to look again at how they treat officials fairly for all please.

      Author: Alan Biggs

      The potential powderkeg of already pressurised referees having to publicly view replays worries You Are The Ref experts in the wake of this week’s impressive trial of the Video Assistant Referee.

      Interestingly, neither of the overhauled decisions in the France v Spain friendly was the final verdict of the match referee who based his calls on the view of an experienced off-field official in front of a bank of monitors. Both were correct and the system was seen to work very effectively – and speedily - in this case.

      And yet the process would have been different and involve a longer time lag had the system favoured by two leading referee figures been in operation.

      Both David Elleray, technical director of the International Football Association Board, and Mike Riley, head of England’s officials, would prefer the match referee to have the final say by reviewing a video.

      This would most likely involve him running to check a touchline monitor. Whereas the Stade de France experiment worked well without subjecting the match officials to an extra burden.

      YATR’s Keith Hackett applauds both Elleray and Riley for joining a complex debate in which even experts in the field are bound to disagree on implementation given the complexities involved.

      Today Hackett points out the pitfalls of their argument. He said: “It’s good to see views being expressed. This must be the Premier League’s and David Elleray’s view on how the system should operate.

      “My concern is that given their positions I would have thought they would await the outcome of all the current trials before attempting to set the boundaries.

      “If they are of the opinion that the referee should view a screen I see the benefit of this. However, they appear not to be considering the what ifs.”

      Hackett added: “Let’s consider a future game where an offence has taken place and the referee has pointed for a penalty kick and issued a yellow card to the defender. The VAR intervenes and says the offence took place outside the penalty area.”

      “You should then rescind the penalty kick and award a free-kick outside the penalty area and send off the defender for DOGSO.

      “If the referee is operating Mike Riley’s procedure he’s going to take a look at the screen. He moves to a position near the touchline to view a monitor.

      “There is no doubt that he will be surrounded by players and club officials all wanting to view the screen.

      “Then suppose whilst the referee is off the field an argument takes place resulting in a player striking an opponent. This then sparks a mass confrontation near the penalty area with no officials in the vicinity and players decide to take matters into their own hands. It is not so far-fetched or hard to imagine.

      “The danger is that by moving away from the scene the referee’s authority will be lost in a second. Surely the way to do this is like Rugby Union and operate the replay on a big stadium screen so that we can all be informed of what has taken place and what action needs to be taken.

      “The international game this week demonstrated to me how the system can operate and how quickly we can get to the correct decision. The Integrity of the game and of the referee were both upheld and the correct outcomes achieved.

      “We are in the experimental stage of a major change in our game. Surely the appropriate review and research needs to be conducted in these experimental games before any conclusions are determined.”

      Source: ESPNFC

        Don't waste your time calling me biased, because, as anyone who has ever heard me get started will tell you, I make no attempt to hide my allegiance when it comes to Glasgow's famous footballing rivalry.

        Celtic were more than just my boyhood team, I played for them as a kid, too, and I follow their fortunes to this day. Those childhood memories, however, extend to the refereeing situation, so I would insist that all the fuss over the most recent Old Firm game really is nothing new.

        It's no less annoying, however, when you see Bobby Madden let a two-footed Kenny Miller challenge go, which was a disgrace, and then underline that lapse of authority by failing to award what was an obvious penalty in the game's closing moments.

        I have always been doubtful when it comes to these appointments, but what can you do? There is a valid case for the Scottish Football Association taking a leaf out of the PGMO book and asking each official to register whatever team they support, because human nature would lead us to expect that on the majority of 50/50s, that preference can make all the difference.

        I know there have been teething problems with the policy south of the border and that there will always be anomalies, but I have no doubt that we should know who the referee supports, even if it does not automatically bar them from taking charge.

        If they were all barred, then the problem is you end up with the 12th, 15th, 20th best man for the job, and that is obviously no solution, either.

        The spoils may well have been shared and I don't mind admitting how well Rangers played last time out, but what we saw from the man in the middle I have seen time  and time and time again. It was there for all to see in fact, and I'd like to see something done about it.

        I was disappointed in the performance of Michael Oliver at Stamford Bridge, too. He let the game get away from him, although one decision I did agree with was the dismissal of Manchester United's Herrera for a second consecutive foul on Chelsea's Hazard.

        Herrera was plain dopey, while Valencia and Rojo were lucky to escape similar punishment. That said, United did not share their fortune in general and put in a defiant performance.

        This year's quarter finals passed without the need to resort to extra time following the decision to scrap replays at this stage. So it's had no effect... yet, but I still disagree totally with that decision. Just imagine if United had held out for a draw with those ten men, only to face extra time?

        The quarter final is a crucial stage of any cup competition and, make no mistake, it's already a massive advantage to be drawn at home. In my opinion United should have been playing for the reward of taking the league leaders back to Old Trafford for another crack at them.

        I was part of the Ipswich side which played Manchester City in the first FA Cup semi-final to go straight to extra-time, back in 1981. My team-mate Eric Gates had taken his boots off and was headed for the dressing room when Paul Power had to tell him to get ready for another half-hour!

        Of course, City's Power it was who curled in the winner ten minutes later with a long-range free-kick which ended up knocking us out. And I can't really blame the ref for that!

        Until next time you can catch me on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast every week day on TalkSPORT, 6-10am.

          Scott Duncan

          Last night, late in the Championship game between Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, referee Scott Duncan ruled out what would have been an equalising Rovers goal.

          What happened next stirred an echo of an unwelcome piece of history on the same ground.
          Blackburn's Hope Akpan ran towards the referee and with both hands pushed him in the chest in a clear assault on the official.

          Duncan, although taken by surprise, was able to maintain his balance and not fall backwards onto the field.

          I am sure many older spectators present at the game would remember when one of their favourite players, Italian Paolo Di Canio, pushed referee Paul Alcock to the ground after Di Canio had been shown a red card following a clash with Arsenal's Martin Keown.

          Many Wednesday fans even to this day question the validity of Alcock going to ground and much humour
          has surrounded a serious incident.

          There is no doubt that it was rather theatrical, but in defence of the referee he would have been surprised by the action of the Wednesday player. The Football Association acted quickly and dispensed an eleven game ban (the statutory three for violent conduct Plus a further eight) and £10,000 fine sending out a message that this action by any player would not be tolerated.

          Given the debate on Respect and assaults on referees at grassroots level, the FA must act swiftly and hand out a similar punishment to Hope Akpan for the unforgivable act of laying hands on a referee.

            Respect

            There has been a lot of speculation about a national strike by grassroots referees in protest at widespread and unacceptable instances of match officials being abused.

            You Are The Ref is against this proposal, which has emanated from calls by a young referee in one particular part of the country.

            This is not because we don't believe there is a problem in this area or because we lack sympathy for officials on the ground. Far from it. The team here ran a recent campaign, highlighting abuse cases and calling for action on this cultural malaise in football.

            We have expressed our concerns about the lack of respect shown towards our grassroots referees. I have also emphasised the need for referees to report incidents in an accurate manner.

            Further, I hope the Football Association resurrect the Respect campaign and support it with a raft of sanctions that act as a true deterrent. For instance, my view is that where an assault on a referee takes place this should be dealt with by the police with the FA duly copied in with the facts. However, we also believe the solution lies in communication and education.

            I am aware that the FA are currently in the process of recruiting a Respect Officer, soon to be appointed.

            Our focus is on supporting young referees to enjoy the game - as is their right - and to progress within it. A withdrawal would be counter-productive in my view.

            Today I received the results of a survey carried out by the Sheffield Referees Association and frankly I was delighted to see that they are very much against the organisation of a referees strike. We at You Are The Ref have been clear that we do not support strike action.

            The preferred route is to ensure that when young referees take to the field they have been suitably trained in conflict management and how to cope and deal with abuse from parents on the touchline.

            Mentoring and coaching are the key factors in ensuring that referees remain in the game and that they do not become one of those 7,000 who hang up their boots up at the end of each season.

            The basic referees course would appear not to adequately prepare referees - as there is less than a 1% failure rate nationally. Every year around 7,000 referees are trained and a similar number lost.

            Unless mentors are appointed to support the first few games of a new referee there is a higher chance of drop-out. The course requires this in two of the first six games but in reality we hear that this is not happening.

            So more power to the FA in dealing with this issue proactively. A strike is not in the interests of football and something we do not wish to see.

              Author: Tim Vickery

              0006422881
              Credit: Minutouno

              After two and a half decades as a referee, twelve of them in Argentina’s top division, Pablo Lunati hung up his whistle and, at last, found himself free to fulfil one of the great father and child rituals; in October he was spotted taking his son to cheer on their football team, Buenos Aires giants River Plate.

              Always one of the more operatic, demonstrative referees, for a quarter of a century Lunati had to keep this passion hidden.  “I’ve wanted to take my son to the stadium for twenty five years,” he said afterwards.  Now that I’m no longer a referee, the first thing that I wanted to do was to go the stadium and enjoy being a supporter.”

              He was well prepared for the next question.  “You try not to get decisions wrong on the field just because you’re a fan of one of the teams.  You can see that I took charge of 24 River Plate games and they won 10.  I reffed Boca Juniors (River’s historical rivals) 36 times and they won 29.”

              Some have gone over the figures.  One Argentine newspaper concluded that Lunati was in charge of 32 River Plate games – with 12 wins, 12 draws and 8 defeats.  It does point out that on 8 occasions River’s opponents had a man sent off, while he never gave a red card to one of their players.  But the statistics would seem to back him up.  And every time the River Plate fans chanted insults about him (as they often did), it may have hurt the part of Lunati that was a fan, but it also must surely have given him a swell of professional pride.

              Football Soccer - Independiente Santa Fe v River Plate - Recopa Sudamericana - Antonio Vespucio Liberti Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina - 25/8/16 - River Plate's captain Leonardo Ponzio holds up the trophy as the team celebrates after winning the match. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian Picture Supplied by Action Images

              This story has played big in Argentina because he was a high profile figure, because conspiracy theories are always kicking around there, and it because it involves a club of the magnitude of River Plate which has had such an interesting recent trajectory.  Last year they were champions of South America.  But back in 2011 they were relegated to the domestic second division.  Ever since, stories and counter-stories have circulated; attempts were made to put pressure on referees to help save River Plate from the drop – or, alternatively, there was some kind of local FA campaign to ensure they went down.  With a club this big, everything is magnified.

              But the most interesting aspect of the Lunati episode is its very mundanity.  Behind the whistle there is a human being – one who has frequently become a referee as a consequence of deep love for the game, usually nurtured through a relationship with one specific club.

              Some who work in football end up losing any affinity they once had with their childhood love.  Others, like Lunati, retain and compartmentalise.  But without that initial love, how many would be prepared to put up with all of the sacrifices necessary to become a top class referee?

                Author: Alan Biggs

                Sergio Aguero
                Sergio Aguero

                Manchester City can be thankful that the Football Association did not impose an increased suspension on Sergio Aguero, say You Are The Ref experts.

                England’s former head of referees, Keith Hackett, believes the FA could have been justified in stretching Aguero’s ban from three to four matches for his club launching an arguably futile defence of his actions that could have been avoided.

                The view of You Are The Ref directors is that the Aguero affair was an open and shut case with NO sinister implications whatsoever, including NO coercion of the referee – on this or any other occasion – to arrive at
                the verdict.

                “It’s all straightforward in my mind,” said the vastly experienced Hackett who has seen the process from the inside and who predicted from the outset that Aguero would be charged and suspended for elbowing Winston Reid in City’s Premier League game with West Ham last weekend.

                “I think the right outcome was delivered in that the player was charged and the appeal thrown out. Where I do have a query is that I wonder if the FA were right to allow City to escape the accusation of a ‘frivolous’
                appeal, which would have resulted in an extra game to take the suspension to four matches.”

                The club reportedly argued that referee Andre Marriner was so well placed to see and judge the incident that he could hardly have not seen it. Retrospective charges can only brought where referees have taken
                no action at the time, as in this case, and are deemed to have not seen the offence.

                Hackett said: “The referee’s apparently ideal positioning is probably why the FA did not baulk at the appeal and, yes, I can understand that. But for me there is a simple explanation here. Just because you are well placed does not necessarily mean you see something clearly enough to make a decision without guessing.

                “Where were Andre’s eyes fixed? What was he looking at? From close proximity, it’s impossible to see feet, heads, arms and elbows all at the same time. Was he looking other than at the flailing arm?

                “Yes, it was an omission on his part and you would have expected a referee of this calibre to spot the offence and act accordingly with a red card. However, he can’t have seen it properly or he would surely
                have done exactly that.”

                Hackett maintains that City had only to check with someone from the refereeing side of the game to avoid an appeal and any risk involved.

                He added: “I fear the FA have missed a trick here and worry that they have left themselves potentially exposed to the time-wasting of more appeals that are realistically highly unlikely to succeed.

                “As things stand now, clubs will feel they have nothing to lose from invoking the appeals process.”

                See Monday’s Ref Show for more discussion with Keith on this and other subjects.

                  Author: Alan Biggs

                  Sergio Aguero

                  Sergio Aguero faces almost certain disciplinary action this week in the view of You Are The Ref experts.

                  The Manchester City striker escaped punishment for elbowing West Ham's Winston Reid in his side's 3-1 win on Sunday.

                  Former official Andy Hogg called it on Ref Cam at the time, questioning referee Andre Marriner for not being well placed enough to see the incident.

                  Ref Cam review: Manchester City v West Ham United

                  Hogg said: "Andre was close but unfortunately he had the wrong angle."

                  Retrospective action, landing Aguero with a three-match ban for violent conduct, is highly likely. He faces missing the Manchester derby that follows the international break.

                  Keith Hackett said: "I am sure the FA will bring a charge."

                  See all the weekend's big incidents, including more grappling controversy, discussed on this week's Ref Show.

                    Anthony Taylor 8
                    The PGMOL are set to take a firmer stance against disrespect to match officials this season

                    The Premier League, EFL and the FA have come together in a bid to improve behaviour across English football.

                    There is no doubt that over recent seasons we have seen a rise in unsporting behaviour, with players and teams visibly disrespecting match officials. Now, the footballing authorities have tasked the PGMOL with taking a stronger stance against such behaviour.

                    During the UEFA European Championships this summer, just nine cautions were brandished for dissent – the players quickly learning that there was no benefit to arguing with the officials.

                    Read more: Pierluigi Collina – Euro 2016 a job well done

                    Now that needs to be carried into the domestic leagues, and the PGMOL will instruct their referees to clamp down on the following:

                    - Dissent towards match officials

                    - Offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures towards match officials

                    - Physical contact with match officials

                    - Surrounding match officials

                    - Conduct in the technical area

                    For further clarity on the above list, you can read the full article on the Premier League website here.

                    Richard Scudamore, the Executive Chairman of the Premier League, said: “We and our clubs have been discussing for some time concerns that certain elements of player behaviour are overstepping the mark and it is our collective position that these types of behaviour should no longer be tolerated.

                    “Things happen in the heat of the moment during fast and highly competitive football; we still want to see the passion fans enjoy and demand, but players and managers have to be aware there are lines that should not be crossed.”

                      Author: Keith Hackett

                      Sian Massey, one of few female officials to reach the top of the English game
                      Sian Massey, one of few female officials to reach the top of the English game

                      No English women match officials have been selected for the Olympic games in Rio.

                      This leads to the question of what the Football Association is doing to encourage more female match officials into our game.

                      Recruitment, retention and a proper strategic plan should be in place so that English women's officiating is not left behind on the world stage.

                      In the past we have seen a small number of women referees battling through the minefield of obstacles put in their path to run the line in the professional game. Wendy Toms, Amy Fearn (nee Rayner) and Sian Massey come to mind. They put in a great deal of effort over many years to set the standard

                      However, unlike other countries we have still to see a woman referee at the highest level of the game.

                      I have watched closely how my colleagues at the New Zealand Football Association have planned for the success of women match officials in their game.

                      They have brought several of their officials over the years to England to visit and work closely with the PGMOL. Rod Pelosi is the man dedicated to the task of ensuring New Zealand has officials at the Olympic Games and World Cups.

                      He can be very proud of his achievements, supported by Referee Manager Ken Wallace at the NZFA.

                      They use the Dallas Cup to broaden the match officials' horizons in terms of controlling challenging games. Individuals are set smart objectives to guide and encourage their development.

                      At the Women's World Cup in Canada, New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley stole the show producing a series of stunning performances. No surprise that Anna and a colleague from New Zealand will be officiating in Rio.

                      So The Football Association have some work to do and, for me, need a more detailed and specific plan with appropriate investment for us to catch up.

                      Why not look at recruiting some of the women players who are retiring from the game at the top level and encouraging them to become referees?

                      We clearly need more women officials to enter our game so let us make every effort to double the numbers over the next two years. Then have a training and education programme in place that accelerates their careers.

                      We need to be represented at all the major tournaments around the world.

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