Thursday, June 21, 2018

Officials have hardest job in football

For nine months of the year a hardy band of people officiate at football matches throughout England.

These people must be among the bravest people on the planet.

They get paid to run the gauntlet of hate from thousands of fans. They have the hardest in the world.


In recent weeks referees in the Premier League have came under severe scrutiny. This is nothing new but the Premier League’s reaction to controversial situations is new.

They have decided to drop the refs at the centre of controversial incidents. In past seasons referees mistakes would have been completely ignored.


The Premier League has denied dropping Stewart Attwell to fourth official for this weekend’s fixtures. Attwell was the referee at the centre of the controversial Liverpool goal at the weekend. A Premier League spokesman said “He has not been dropped – he was always scheduled to be fourth official for the Tottenham match.”

That may be the case but the incident didn’t help his chances of refereeing any big matches in the near future. His decision was debatable and most decisions that refs make are debatable.


I have to admit I slaughtered referee Martin Atkinson after the Everton-Manchester United match a few weeks ago. It was in the heat of the moment and again the decision was debatable but I was biased towards my team.

Most fans are biased towards their own team and criticise referees when decisions go against them, even when the decisions are right.


Current Ipswich manager Roy Keane has came out in defence of officials and has said that the respect campaign should be stepped up. It seems strange that Keane, who regularly harassed referees, is suddenly defending them.

Maybe the Irishman has mellowed a bit as he has got older. He also stated that he believed it was the same managers moaning about referees every week as their teams aren’t performing and using refs as an excuse for that underperformance.


That’s true to a certain extent but big decisions from officials have cost teams dearly. Teams can be relegated or lose league titles because of one mistake by officials. That’s why officials get so much stick and that’s why they have such a hard job. Their mistakes can make or break careers.


One criticism of referees is that they don’t understand the game well enough. They know the rules but they don’t understand the game. One way of referees understanding the game better is by ex-players becoming referees.

Obviously this will be difficult with some footballers now unwilling to stay in the game. And why would they choose to subject themselves to so much abuse and scrutiny when they have finished their playing careers?

Maybe players who have played lower down the leagues will be willing to become referees, as it would give them a chance to stay in the game and earn a living wage. Premier League footballers don’t need a job when they retire but lower league players sometimes don’t earn enough in their playing careers to sustain themselves and their families.


Referees will always make mistakes because they are only human. It creates talking points and football is entertainment. All we ask is that they admit when they make mistakes and take responsibility. They would certainly gain more respect from fans, players and managers alike if they did admit their mistakes.


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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