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FA

    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.

                  Author: Alan Biggs

                  Clattenburg Spurs
                  Tottenham Hotspur could be in hot water with FA following fiery derby encounter with Chelsea

                  Tottenham are in the firing line following the stormy 2-2 draw with London rivals Chelsea that confirmed Leicester City as Premier League champions.

                  You Are The Ref expects that the Football Association will bring charges against Spurs’ Mousa Dembele – and both clubs – following a flurry of feisty exchanges at Stamford Bridge.

                  Mousa Dembele is the most vulnerable to retrospective action. It is considered likely that the match officials, led by referee Mark Clattenburg, will confirm that they did not see an unsavoury incident involving the midfielder.

                  Clattenburg would almost certainly have shown red had he witnessed it.

                  Replays showed that Dembele made an apparent attempt to gouge into the face of Chelsea striker Diego Costa, dangerously close to the striker’s eyes. It is evident this should have been seen by assistant referee Simon Beck.

                  Spurs’ Eric Dier was guilty of a dangerous challenge that warranted a sending off but, having been shown only a yellow, he cannot be charged under the current regulations.

                  Serial offender Kyle Walker, the Tottenham and England right back, was also lucky to stay on the field on a night when nine Spurs players were cautioned, a record for one team in a Premier League match.

                  Besides the action the FA will take over such a crimesheet, a touchline fracas that saw Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino on the pitch, and ugly scenes at the end, are also likely to provoke a response.

                  YATR’s Keith Hackett said: “I’d be surprised if both clubs are not charged for failing to control their players. I’d also expect action over the Dembele incident in the game itself.”

                    Author: Alan Biggs

                    Anthony Taylor
                    The Football Association are under pressure to remove Anthony Taylor from one of the FA Cup semi-finals amid political confusion surrounding the home bases of match officials.

                    Manchester resident Taylor’s selection for Manchester United’s tie with Everton has been brought into sharper focus by the standing down of a colleague from a vital Premier League clash in the latest round of fixtures.

                    Kevin Friend, a self-confessed Leicester fan, was due to preside over the Foxes’ main title rivals, Spurs, in their game at Stoke on Monday. The decision to replace Friend, with Neil Swarbrick now taking charge at the Britannia Stadium, has highlighted inconsistences in selection policy.

                    In no case is there any question mark whatsoever against the impartiality or integrity of a referee.

                    “It’s more a case of officials being exposed to unfair pressure in some instances,” says You Are The Ref’s Keith Hackett. “The vibe I’m picking up is that, at the very least, some consideration is being given to moving Taylor away from the semi-final.

                    “He’s a great referee and tough enough mentally to blot out everything other than controlling the game in an even-handed manner. But you have to weigh up the pressures on his family that living in the Manchester area brings for such a game.”

                    Incidentally, Taylor regularly referees games involving his home city’s clubs. He has done so six times this season already (three times each for Manchester United and Manchester City).

                    Furthermore, Taylor was due to be in the middle at Old Trafford this very weekend for United versus Aston Villa. But, in another mysterious twist, Friend has now replaced him.

                    Nevertheless, the fact that Taylor refereeing Manchester clubs has become custom and practice – and that Professional Game Match Officials are standing by their selection criteria – blurs the issue over Taylor and the semi-final.

                    Mark Halsey said: “Where are the differences? You’ve also got Michael Oliver, a massive Newcastle fan, who refereed two of their relegation rivals in the Crystal Palace versus Norwich game last weekend.

                    “A clear penalty to Norwich wasn’t given in this match. That will have been an honest mistake and nothing else but it doesn’t stop people talking.”

                    Hackett added: “In my career I was never allowed, as a Sheffielder, to referee either Wednesday or United – and quite rightly so. There is now a huge inconsistency in this area that needs addressing – and you could say quite literally!”

                      On this week’s Ref Show, Alan Biggs, Mark Lawrenson and Glenn Turner discuss the issue of respect in grassroots football, following a string of unsavoury incidents involving verbal abuse from the touchlines.

                      The panelists draw on their experiences within football and debate whether the FA's Respect Campaign has done enough.

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