Should referees give post-match interviews?

Forcing referees to explain their decisions would help no one. It’s better that they remain mysterious and above the law.

(Guardian)

(Guardian)

…Right now, I know nothing about Lee Probert and I’m barely aware what an Andre Marriner is. Letting a referee confess “in hindsight, it was an obvious penalty, I had the equivalent of missing a tap-in there” gets us nowhere.

The losing manager has still lost. Only the media gains, obtaining more quotes to ensure that the analysis of what was said after the match gets far more coverage than what happened in the game itself.

At least for now, referees get to keep a vestige of mystery. They can ignore the demands for explanation simply by pointing to Law 5: “The decisions of the referee are final.” In other words, suck it up. They’re above the law because they are the law. There is nothing suddenly so wrong with football that this needs changing after 150 years.

It appears part of the growing insidious belief that football is about justice, rather than a sport whose random chaos is precisely what makes it so entertaining. So what if a missed offside “cost us millions”? If you’re finalising your balance sheet on the belief that Lee Mason is infallible, then it’s no wonder your club’s skint.

For all we know, some professional refs would admit on camera they got it wrong and some may be stubborn souls who would refuse to admit any errors. As it stands, all refs are at least nominally equal, which is surely how it should be.

Even in the unlikely event that increasing their media presence led to a meaningful dialogue, the Referees’ Association may well start making appointments based on who could best explain themselves to the post-match cameras. Once that happens, we’d enter the grisly realm of banter.

What if, say, Roger East turned out to be a rent-a-quote who would cheerfully burble to Match of the Day: “I can tell you now, that lad from Villa really is ‘that sort of player’ and us refs have all decided to keep booking him until he stops.”

Get that kind of comment from a media-savvy ref and the lawyers would have a field day (whatever a field day actually is). Of course referees need respect and there are ways of helping that which could be led by the needs of the officials, rather than the press.

There’s precious little football can learn from rugby, but miking up referees may be one of them. That would let their decisions be understood better without the media getting to set the agenda. It has only happened once so far when, during Arsenal’s match against Millwall in 1989, David Elleray was seen booking Tony Adams because “I don’t mind you calling me a cunt, but you can’t call me a cheating cunt.”

Alternatively, introducing meaningful punishments for managers who question a referee’s integrity might help. To paraphrase Elleray, let bosses slate the decisions as much as they want, just don’t imply that they were bent.

Even if the FA decide the status quo is fine, that’s got to be better than Martin Atkinson wearily telling Jamie Redknapp that there was an acceptable level of contact for the eighth time that season.

Source: Guardian 

 

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