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Everybody's Problem At Football?

'Everybody's Problem'

Buying a season ticket shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. It should be an occasion that you look forward to – as each year goes past – one which leaves you in anticipation for the forthcoming season, with the belief that this year it will be ‘our year’ to upset the apple cart.

That didn’t happen this year. The stop-maybe-stop-start nature of action in the transfer window followed by the dismal end to the season for Villa was something that really disheartened me.

I look back at that now, and I’m actually really glad I did make the purchase. The signings we made wouldn’t have been my first choices, but I don’t support Villa just when decisions are ones that I agree with. And in the case of James Collins, I’m happy to admit that my initial thoughts were completely, utterly wrong.

But that’s not what really the point of this.

Amongst the Villa concern, there was another nagging thought. And whilst the worries about Aston Villa have faded ten fold that ‘nag’ has become an ‘annoyance’. And over the past few weekends it’s really become clear this problem could really strike the final nail in the coffin for me.

We all may disagree about the manager in charge, the person being picked to play in whatever position or the what the music should be when the players run out. But we are all at the ground – all fans I’m talking about – not just Aston Villa fans – to watch a game of football.

The problem I’m finding is that all too often when I watch games – be they Villa ones or otherwise – referees and their assistants are getting key decisions in games incorrect time and time again and it’s getting to a situation now where I’m looking at games and thinking that we aren’t watching games of football anymore because simple rules just aren’t being kept to.

I appreciate that referees and their assistants have a hard job to do. 40,000 people screaming for the decision in their favour is going to make it difficult. But this is their job – to get the decisions right. They know this is the case when they take the cash – there is no surprise that this is the case.

It wouldn’t be so galling if it wasn’t the simple things that they were getting wrong. Everybody in the ground could see that Gabby Agbonlahor had been fouled in the penalty area by the last man against Chelsea. Yet it was ignored. Not only should it have been a penalty, but it should have been a sending off of the player too. Chelsea go straight down the other end and put themselves in the lead. It’s not fair, and it shouldn’t be happening – and whilst decisions like this are still made, accusations of favouritism towards the ‘top lot’ will continue to be made – with good cause.

To be fair to the referee, it’s not entirely his fault. He’s got two assistants who are meant to be there to help him too. And yet neither one of those could see this either.

The sad, frustrating thing about that incident is that if you had explained what happened before the game began most fans would probably suggest that no penalty would be given, despite it being clear cut.

I’m not complaining about decisions which need interpretation on the rules. That, is the job of the F.A and FIFA to sort out. Rules should be black or white – either it’s a foul or not – and it is a foul if x, y or z happens.

But it’s not these things which are frustrating me so much. I’m talking about Stephen Warnock being given a yellow card when it was Petrov who actually fouled a player. I’m talking about Carlos Cuellar being sent off against Sunderland when a player does something very similar on the same night, for the same team and the referee doesn’t even scare his whistle.

It’s easy to complain about decisions against Villa, and I’m sure we Villa fans, and fans of other teams can talk about match changing decisions that have been incorrect.

You only have to look at Liverpool’s defeat to Sunderland a couple of weeks ago for another example. How on earth could the referee and his assistants believe that a ball colliding with a beach ball is a legal goal? I don’t know the rules inside out, but I do have common sense, which would lead me to believe that there must be a rule about outside influences on a football pitch. Which appears to be true after reading the fall out from ‘beach ball-gate’. So why couldn’t these professionals?

And the punishment for the referee? To miss a week before taking charge of a Premiership game the week later. The same referee, managed to make another poor decision ruling out a Hull goal in that game, by the way.

So how long must we put up with it? And what are the answers? I don’t know. But what I don’t think is right is to ‘punish’ referees be demoting them. If they aren’t good enough – sack them. Why would it be fair for lower league sides to have to put up with referees who clearly have no common sense? No understanding of the rules.

I’m not talking of hanging referees who make decisions incorrectly. I’m talking about removing officials who are constantly making mistakes.

Is technology an answer? Not for the common sense issues such as the beach ball, the penalty decision or Cuellar’s sending off.

Top level referees are already professional. They get paid a decent amount of money to keep fit and on top of the game. Clearly, just making all referees professional won’t work. It doesn’t work in the Premiership.

My immediate thought is perhaps referees and officials should issued with a cleaner, straight forward rule book. They need to know exactly what a foul is, and what it isn’t. More direction needs to be given on the basic rules for them. And if silly decisions are continued to be made – whether a ‘big team’ is involved or not – then after a number of poor games in which they have affected the result they should be brought in front of a panel – and it decided whether they are to retain their position or not.
I also think that perhaps it might be a good idea for referees to be taking part in all professional divisions of English football. Mark Halsey can end up refereeing at Walsall one game, and Manchester United the next. I think this might improve the standard of refereeing throughout the game – and that’s what needs doing.

All teams should be playing on an even level, and at this moment I don’t think this is happening. That’s what is so frustrating.




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The Journalist

Writer: CustardCream Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 5 2009

Time: 3:51PM

Your Comments

Great debut articles, cheers CustardCream. The inconsistency has been talked about for a good few years now and I totally agree, you spend half the game wound up by awful ref decisions. I'm sure tv evidence could be used for SOME of the bits and bobs but the errors like you say above (Warnock giving a card instead of Petrov) is just sloppy, the standard seems really low at the moment for sure.
The Fear
Great debut articles, cheers CustardCream. The inconsistency has been talked about for a good few years now and I totally agree, you spend half the game wound up by awful ref decisions. I'm sure tv evidence could be used for SOME of the bits and bobs but the errors like you say above (Warnock giving a card instead of Petrov) is just sloppy, the standard seems really low at the moment for sure.
The Fear
which makes UEFA's trial of SIX officials in the Euorpa League even more lamentable when most games can't even have one decent one in charge!
Merlin
which makes UEFA's trial of SIX officials in the Euorpa League even more lamentable when most games can't even have one decent one in charge!
Merlin
I see where youre coming from Custard - but we as Villa fans do tend to get selective amnesia - November/December and January ish last year was quite lucrative points wise for us due to some quite questionable decisions in our favour- I even remember saying at the time that it was our turn to get some decisions for a change - fact is mate refs are only human (apart from that martian steve bennet) and some decisions you get - some you dont - it happens to everyone even Man Ure had a penalty given against them at home not too long ago ! but even the bloke watching the tv 5th official or not will make a few blunders. P.S I agree they would be able to read a "cleaner" rule book more easily - but the ones most refs have will have the pages stuck together - if you know what i mean :)
Mat777
I see where youre coming from Custard - but we as Villa fans do tend to get selective amnesia - November/December and January ish last year was quite lucrative points wise for us due to some quite questionable decisions in our favour- I even remember saying at the time that it was our turn to get some decisions for a change - fact is mate refs are only human (apart from that martian steve bennet) and some decisions you get - some you dont - it happens to everyone even Man Ure had a penalty given against them at home not too long ago ! but even the bloke watching the tv 5th official or not will make a few blunders. P.S I agree they would be able to read a "cleaner" rule book more easily - but the ones most refs have will have the pages stuck together - if you know what i mean :)
Mat777
great article. Wish it would get noticed.
FootyFans
great article. Wish it would get noticed.
FootyFans
The argument about video technology being used in the game because it’s not available at all levels is just stupid. The money sloshing around (especially in the top flights) leagues means a wrong decision can cost millions. Last time I had a kick around the only thing that depended on the outcome was who was getting the first round in. The top leagues in the world should take a leaf out of American Football – the coaches (managers) can challenge most decisions and have a video play back. If the referees are wrong then the decision is reversed. If the referee is seen to correct or its unclear, the challenging coaches team then looses a “time out” - for football this would be a substitution. Coaches can only challenge a maximum three times and loose a maximum of two
Lost_In_Ca
The argument about video technology being used in the game because it’s not available at all levels is just stupid. The money sloshing around (especially in the top flights) leagues means a wrong decision can cost millions. Last time I had a kick around the only thing that depended on the outcome was who was getting the first round in. The top leagues in the world should take a leaf out of American Football – the coaches (managers) can challenge most decisions and have a video play back. If the referees are wrong then the decision is reversed. If the referee is seen to correct or its unclear, the challenging coaches team then looses a “time out” - for football this would be a substitution. Coaches can only challenge a maximum three times and loose a maximum of two
Lost_In_Ca
I'm not sure what the answer to the 'referee problem' is. Is it to have 'black and white rules'? It sounds good on a simplistic level, but most matches throw up comments from fans and pundits complaining that the referee 'has to use some comment sense', or 'give some leeway'. The two things are mutually exclusive; you either have 'fixed' rules (in the hope of consistency) or 'common sense' (in the hope of common sense). I do know this for certain though: I'm sick and tired of managers whinging about referees after a match, whilst encouraging their players to cheat the referee in every way possible. And I'm really, really sick and tired of players haranguing the ref whilst simultaneously diving, hacking lumps out of each other and generally cheating their fellow professionals and the paying public. If the complaining managers and players were not outright cheats, the referee problem would not exist.
BobTheBuilder
I'm not sure what the answer to the 'referee problem' is. Is it to have 'black and white rules'? It sounds good on a simplistic level, but most matches throw up comments from fans and pundits complaining that the referee 'has to use some comment sense', or 'give some leeway'. The two things are mutually exclusive; you either have 'fixed' rules (in the hope of consistency) or 'common sense' (in the hope of common sense). I do know this for certain though: I'm sick and tired of managers whinging about referees after a match, whilst encouraging their players to cheat the referee in every way possible. And I'm really, really sick and tired of players haranguing the ref whilst simultaneously diving, hacking lumps out of each other and generally cheating their fellow professionals and the paying public. If the complaining managers and players were not outright cheats, the referee problem would not exist.
BobTheBuilder
Got to agree with everything that has been said. Must emphasise though, that video technology will never be a replacement for a competent referee. The thing that everyone seems to have missed though is not only did the referee get it wrong, so did his 2 assistants, the fourth official and probably an FA assessor watching in the stands! This was then compounded by the fact that the game should have been replayed from when the incident took place (5 mins) due the Ref being wrong by the Laws of the Game - but the FA seem to be blind to the rules also.
McGrathisgod
Got to agree with everything that has been said. Must emphasise though, that video technology will never be a replacement for a competent referee. The thing that everyone seems to have missed though is not only did the referee get it wrong, so did his 2 assistants, the fourth official and probably an FA assessor watching in the stands! This was then compounded by the fact that the game should have been replayed from when the incident took place (5 mins) due the Ref being wrong by the Laws of the Game - but the FA seem to be blind to the rules also.
McGrathisgod
I still think the easiest and greatest improvement would be to add a second referee ON the pitch. One ref in front of the play and one ref lagging behind the play. The second ref would have better views, closer views, and many times better angles to view plays than the two assistants 50 yards away with other players interupting their views. With 2 refs, you are less likely to have players gang up around 1 ref to 'persuade' their point. The cost of another ref would be negligible. While they obviously are more likely to get in the way, I really don't think it would be a problem for highly trained refs. Its really a win/win situation.
attila11101
I still think the easiest and greatest improvement would be to add a second referee ON the pitch. One ref in front of the play and one ref lagging behind the play. The second ref would have better views, closer views, and many times better angles to view plays than the two assistants 50 yards away with other players interupting their views. With 2 refs, you are less likely to have players gang up around 1 ref to 'persuade' their point. The cost of another ref would be negligible. While they obviously are more likely to get in the way, I really don't think it would be a problem for highly trained refs. Its really a win/win situation.
attila11101
Well this has been a major "bug-bear" of mine for years now. For me the point is being missed completely. It starts at the top.. Fifa...then moves down to the FA. Basically the game is all about money.. lots & lots of it & increasingly so now especially in our own Premier League which has become the playground of Billionaires.... At international level i think it is fair to say that fifa is generally corrupt..Uefa's Michel Platini even states there are problems with match fixing. But also, in efforts to maximise profit in the game i believe Fifa to be involved in "tournament fixing"... You only have to go back a few years to a time when the game in Italy, one of the power nations in football, saw a near collapse in it's domestic game due to the much publicised match fixing scandel which condemned some of it's top sides to relegation & all sorts of fines & points deductions. This meant something had to be done to get the cash flowing there once again... Very soon after this the world cup came around & a very average at best Italian side won it. Not that suprising but on closer inspection it was blatantly obvious that they had a helping hand from the Fifa officials. I lost count of the "dodgy" penalties they were either awarded or escaped from. To the point that i actually put a tenner on them winning it (& i hardly ever bet on football) after the 1st few games. One example was the utterly embarrassing penalty they got awarded against Australia when the Italian forward saw an Aussie defender lying flat out on the floor, bent his run away from goal towards him & then jumped over his leg without even touching it dropped to the floor & was instantly awarded a match winning penalty...in the last minute!! IT WAS SHOCKING!! the thing was though that these italian favouring decisions occurred right through to the final. I have never witnessed a more "influenced" passage through to a trophy success & yet it was so conveinient it was ridiculous... The game in Italy was at risk due to match rigging...solution... Make sure they win the World cup then the game in Italy recovers popularity, the cash keeps flowing & everybodies happy!!? It sadly appears to be the same in our own Premier League with the "creation" of an untouchable top 4. We all know who they are but something quite simply doesn't add up with it all. Football is a game where nothing is certain & indeed most pundits would & indeed used to state over & over again that if any 2 teams played each other 10 times in a row, whether it be Liverpool & Man u, Wrexham & Arsenal or even Barnet & Chelsea the results would be split into maybe 3 wins each & 4 draws for Man u & Liverpool, for Wrexham v Arsenal it would be more like 6 Arsenal wins 2 draws & 2 Wrexham wins & Barnet would win 1 of 10 against Chelsea with 2 draws & 7 Chelsea wins... That is just law of averages & luck coming into the situation. Now in the fa cup you see that coming into play all the time.. Most of the top teams win against the lower league teams but some need a replay & some suffer the "shock" defeat... It happens consistently EVERY SEASON!!! This merely confirms the ratio's i mentioned earlier... The big mystery for me is HOW COME THIS IS NOT THE CASE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?.. Those ratio's simply do not equate where the top 4 teams are concerned & that for me is very very odd. It is commonplace for a team to have not won in 20-30 attempts against those sides & it simply does not add up.. So does that mean something is "affecting" those natural ratio's? .. is it possible that the FA employed referees bend the averages in favour of the top 4? Is that why there is always 5 minutes of injury time at Old Trafford IF UTD ARE NOT WINNING? & is that why Agbonlahor did not get a penalty decision against Chelsea? Who knows but it is afterall odd that Richard Scudamore even stated that the FA prefer it if the top 4 sides win as it brings in more cash from abroad... Oh there we go.. That Cash thing again??
danceoftheshamen
Well this has been a major "bug-bear" of mine for years now. For me the point is being missed completely. It starts at the top.. Fifa...then moves down to the FA. Basically the game is all about money.. lots & lots of it & increasingly so now especially in our own Premier League which has become the playground of Billionaires.... At international level i think it is fair to say that fifa is generally corrupt..Uefa's Michel Platini even states there are problems with match fixing. But also, in efforts to maximise profit in the game i believe Fifa to be involved in "tournament fixing"... You only have to go back a few years to a time when the game in Italy, one of the power nations in football, saw a near collapse in it's domestic game due to the much publicised match fixing scandel which condemned some of it's top sides to relegation & all sorts of fines & points deductions. This meant something had to be done to get the cash flowing there once again... Very soon after this the world cup came around & a very average at best Italian side won it. Not that suprising but on closer inspection it was blatantly obvious that they had a helping hand from the Fifa officials. I lost count of the "dodgy" penalties they were either awarded or escaped from. To the point that i actually put a tenner on them winning it (& i hardly ever bet on football) after the 1st few games. One example was the utterly embarrassing penalty they got awarded against Australia when the Italian forward saw an Aussie defender lying flat out on the floor, bent his run away from goal towards him & then jumped over his leg without even touching it dropped to the floor & was instantly awarded a match winning penalty...in the last minute!! IT WAS SHOCKING!! the thing was though that these italian favouring decisions occurred right through to the final. I have never witnessed a more "influenced" passage through to a trophy success & yet it was so conveinient it was ridiculous... The game in Italy was at risk due to match rigging...solution... Make sure they win the World cup then the game in Italy recovers popularity, the cash keeps flowing & everybodies happy!!? It sadly appears to be the same in our own Premier League with the "creation" of an untouchable top 4. We all know who they are but something quite simply doesn't add up with it all. Football is a game where nothing is certain & indeed most pundits would & indeed used to state over & over again that if any 2 teams played each other 10 times in a row, whether it be Liverpool & Man u, Wrexham & Arsenal or even Barnet & Chelsea the results would be split into maybe 3 wins each & 4 draws for Man u & Liverpool, for Wrexham v Arsenal it would be more like 6 Arsenal wins 2 draws & 2 Wrexham wins & Barnet would win 1 of 10 against Chelsea with 2 draws & 7 Chelsea wins... That is just law of averages & luck coming into the situation. Now in the fa cup you see that coming into play all the time.. Most of the top teams win against the lower league teams but some need a replay & some suffer the "shock" defeat... It happens consistently EVERY SEASON!!! This merely confirms the ratio's i mentioned earlier... The big mystery for me is HOW COME THIS IS NOT THE CASE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?.. Those ratio's simply do not equate where the top 4 teams are concerned & that for me is very very odd. It is commonplace for a team to have not won in 20-30 attempts against those sides & it simply does not add up.. So does that mean something is "affecting" those natural ratio's? .. is it possible that the FA employed referees bend the averages in favour of the top 4? Is that why there is always 5 minutes of injury time at Old Trafford IF UTD ARE NOT WINNING? & is that why Agbonlahor did not get a penalty decision against Chelsea? Who knows but it is afterall odd that Richard Scudamore even stated that the FA prefer it if the top 4 sides win as it brings in more cash from abroad... Oh there we go.. That Cash thing again??
danceoftheshamen
Referees make mistakes with wrong decisions. Strikers make mistakes missing open goals. Defenders make mistakes with bad tackles in the penalty area. Fans make mistakes choosing chips and curry sauce insteasd of a Balti pie. These things happen. The use of video technology, for me, would make the game too sterile. If we had goal line technology, we would then want touchline technonlogy to see if the ball went out for a throw in, and on and on. Where would it end? Having 15 referees watching from a studio making decisions from monitors with nobody actual breaking sweat on the pitch? I love football just the way it is. Some you win, some you lose. One teams loss is another teams gain. I agree, there should be more consistency in decisions made and the interpretation of rules, but on the whole LEAVE OUR BEAUTIFUL GAME ALONE!!
DoLpHiNaToR
Referees make mistakes with wrong decisions. Strikers make mistakes missing open goals. Defenders make mistakes with bad tackles in the penalty area. Fans make mistakes choosing chips and curry sauce insteasd of a Balti pie. These things happen. The use of video technology, for me, would make the game too sterile. If we had goal line technology, we would then want touchline technonlogy to see if the ball went out for a throw in, and on and on. Where would it end? Having 15 referees watching from a studio making decisions from monitors with nobody actual breaking sweat on the pitch? I love football just the way it is. Some you win, some you lose. One teams loss is another teams gain. I agree, there should be more consistency in decisions made and the interpretation of rules, but on the whole LEAVE OUR BEAUTIFUL GAME ALONE!!
DoLpHiNaToR
Have to agree with BobTheBuilder. Mangers know their players cheat and I’m sure they encourage it, its funny to me that no manger or fan from any club or country will ever admit their players cheat. Red nose never complained about players diving or Ref's being out of shape when he had Ronaldo on his team diving, Wenger never see's anything, English fans like to believe that English players never dive and so on with every clubs set's of fans. I enjoy the game as is but if it was up to me I would put one ref behind each goal post to help the ref on the field.
Klutch
Have to agree with BobTheBuilder. Mangers know their players cheat and I’m sure they encourage it, its funny to me that no manger or fan from any club or country will ever admit their players cheat. Red nose never complained about players diving or Ref's being out of shape when he had Ronaldo on his team diving, Wenger never see's anything, English fans like to believe that English players never dive and so on with every clubs set's of fans. I enjoy the game as is but if it was up to me I would put one ref behind each goal post to help the ref on the field.
Klutch
In Gaelic football (and hurling) they have SEVEN officials (! of course, it's an amateur game so they don't get paid other than their expenses). These seven are the referee, two linesmen and four umpires, two each behind each goal, one at each post. The umpires' job is to signal scores - a green flag for a goal, a white flag for a point, a raised finger for a 45 or 65 (given where you'd have a corner in football), crossed flags when a score is not to stand after a "square ball" (GAA version of offside) and spreading their arms for a wide. They don't normally get involved in decisions about foul play but perhaps having an official behind the goal might be able to see incidents in the penalty area better? Great article.
BBJ
In Gaelic football (and hurling) they have SEVEN officials (! of course, it's an amateur game so they don't get paid other than their expenses). These seven are the referee, two linesmen and four umpires, two each behind each goal, one at each post. The umpires' job is to signal scores - a green flag for a goal, a white flag for a point, a raised finger for a 45 or 65 (given where you'd have a corner in football), crossed flags when a score is not to stand after a "square ball" (GAA version of offside) and spreading their arms for a wide. They don't normally get involved in decisions about foul play but perhaps having an official behind the goal might be able to see incidents in the penalty area better? Great article.
BBJ
 

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