Tedium Schnippet

The referee in any sport has traditionally been seen as the pantomime villain, the bad guy. Match-going supporters boo, catcall and sometimes abuse the ‘bastard in black’, but this was usually confined to the 90 minutes in the ground, plus a few more on the walk home.

Somewhere along the line, things changed. The refereeing witch hunt has become Saturday and Sunday night entertainment show, every decision replayed and dissected in the search for precious incompetence…

Daniel Storey

The common riposte to criticism of the TV show I’m calling ‘Are they right to feel aggrieved, Alan?’ is to claim refereeing standards have declined. That’s a view cemented in the football public’s subconscious by the coverage itself. The more you question, the more authority is eroded.

It also doesn’t really bear any scrutiny. In March 2017, PGMO revealed that referees make an average of 245 decisions per 90-minute match, one every 22 seconds. On average, they get five of those decisions wrong, a number that has not changed significantly.

More incorrect decisions are not being made, but more coverage is being given to decisions that may cause disagreement. Those that are clearly wrong actually have little use, because one former footballer cannot shout over another former footballer about something that is absolute. Twenty-four hour news coverage uses dispute as its fuel. Simple disagreement quickly becomes controversy; controversy becomes outrage.

This may be sold by broadcasters as a hunt for truth and justice rather than a hunt for the witch, but the result is the same. You see, controversy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell a (certain type of) football supporter often enough that they have cause to be outraged, and you’ll soon find you cannot turn off that outrage. A culture of blame becomes a culture of hate.

Even VAR, sold to us as an assistant for referees, barely feels like that. Many of them fear that it will be used to ‘prove’ that they are incompetent and to create an extra layer of controversy where none previously existed. We’re now having debates about a referee’s decision to refer a decision to another referee. It’s like a tedious decision-ception.

“Referees and their decisions: We’ve manufactured a crisis”
by Daniel Storey,
football365.com, Wednesday 7th February 2018 12:39.

Well leave us your words of wisdom, oh wise one!

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