Written by Mark Lenihan

Some philosophers and psychologists believe that it is normal to direct a certain amount of hatred towards authority, while others believe it is simply personal choice. Whether it is a conscious or subconscious decision, the thing that most academics do agree on is that regardless of where it comes from, there is a lack of respect for authority figures in every aspect of society.

In football, authority means one thing – referees. I hate them, you hate them, we all hate them. Let’s not pull any punches now. I’m not the only one who’s been driven to direct an array of, let’s say, ‘inappropriate’ language and hand gestures towards them during a game. I watch football from all around the world. England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, North and South America, even the odd Chinese Super League game amongst others and I can honestly say that the worst referees/officials in the world are applying their trade in England. Whether it be a big decision or an insignificant one – they are getting them wrong time and time and time again.

credit Ronnie Macdonald

For example, should Sofiane Feghouli have been sent off against Manchester United in their 0-2 defeat at the London Stadium last weekend? Not in a million years. Should Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal have stood in that same game? Absolutely not. Not only was he standing a yard offside, but so too were TWO of his United teammates. How can the linesman not spot that and go unpunished by the head of referees? It’s so blatantly ridiculous it’s head-spinning!

But…. I believe there has been enough criticism of referees and that criticism is never going to leave the game (rightfully so) until a form of video technology is introduced (the sooner the better!). Do I have some sympathy for some referees? Yes, I do.

Wusses rolling around feigning life-threatening injuries, players surrounding referees and linesmen using all sorts of ‘inappropriate’ language, waving imaginary cards among other things are NOT making the referees job any easier. How many times a season do we see a player being innocently tripped up like a 6-year-old playing football with his friends and then proceed to do an audition for the part of Tom Daley in a new TV documentary? It happens four, five, six times in every game! The next time you’re watching the Grand National from Aintree and you see a jockey fall from seven feet and land on his back before the two-tonne horse he’s just fallen off comes down and lands on his head – watch him just get straight back to his feet and walk off the course. Nowadays if a footballer gets his heels clipped, it turns into an episode of Grey’s Anatomy live from Camp Nou. Minutes of rolling around, rubbing the part of the body that has just been grazed before the usual ‘I better check if it’s bleeding’ look. Embarrassing. We wonder why referees are so inconsistent with cards? That’s why. Because most of the time their trying to judge the actual extent of the tackle in comparison with the Tom hardy-esque acting on show.

credit Ronnie Macdonald

Another thing that boils the blood of many a football fan – the imaginary card waving and surrounding of the referee made famous by the most over-rated centre-back of all time – Sergio Ramos. Referees are constantly complaining about the lack of respect they are being showed on a regular basis by both players and managers/coaches. What needs to change, I hear you ask? Get your cards out! Walk into each dressing room before kick-off and state quite simply that one derogatory word or fifty-yard sprint to get your opinion across will result in a yellow card – EVERY time. “But we’ll have twenty bookings and six red cards in every game” – SO WHAT?! If players and managers see the consequences of doing such things, they’ll stop – immediately.

For example, remember Stoke vs Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium a few months ago? Two penalties given for grappling and shirt-pulling in the box from corners. Watch every other corner or free-kick for the rest of the game. Not a single shirt was pulled or a player impeded unfairly. I hate Mike Dean as much as the next person but he got it absolutely spot on that day.

It’s called the beautiful game for a reason, but it has been infiltrated. Cheating has always been a part of the game, I know, but does that mean we shouldn’t strive to stamp it out? We need to try. We’re obligated to endeavour to save the game we love from being drawn into controversy after controversy. There have been and continues to be far, far, far too many for my liking.

Should Video assistance be introduced? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!