Issue Make Sure You Talk To The Referee

As told by Michael Wood

Omar Daley must have been mystified about his red card against Rotherham that saw him putting hands on the Referee following a clash with the home side’s defender. Of course Omar will know if he did kick out at the defender and of course he will know how deliberate that is but what will mystify the City winger is just how as the spotlight turns onto Respecting The Referee the man in the middle Mike Thorpe is allowed to wade in between him and a member of the opposition side and start physically pushing the two apart.

At Old Trafford Javier Mascherano is sent off for dissent which seems to consist of questioning a referee’s decision. Mascherano faces a five game ban for this “crime” if one could call a grown man talking to another in what no one has suggested is anything other than a civil tongue.

During his City Dean Windass was banned for five games for – as a Referee attests to – swearing at him in the car park and against Wrexham he was famously sent off for effing andjeffing at the man in black. Windass is out of line we are told – although I’m not sure about making rules to govern the language of players and think it has worrying overtones about the class of those allowed to play the game – but surely Mascherano is not unless we are in a situation where it has become impossible to even speak with a Referee during a game.

Is the Refereeing authority of a football game so weak – so feeble – that we cannot even allow a single question to be asked? Are they that incapable of justifying their decisions that they are to be shrouded totally from question in all circumstances?

Referees in March 2008 seem convinced that they should take the form of Headmasters with an iron rule of pupils they have no reason to answer to rather than facilitators of a game between adults. Rather than hiding from public comment why not give Referee’s the right – or perhaps the requirement – to talk in public about their decisions? Why not have referee’s reports posted online for paying supporters and players alike to get clarity on why decisions were made?

Create a culture of openness and the referee – stripped of their aloofness – might start to earn respect for honest endeavor rather than trying to create rules to enforce respect. Where in history has respect even been handed down by rule anyway?

Referees who want respect should earn it with honesty as everyone else has to and who knows with openness there may come a day where the men in the middle are able to say after a game that they have made a mistake or missed an incident rather than maintaining the current high handed approach to talking to the people who pay their wages.

And while we are in discussion on this subject should we as supporters not demand transparency from Referees. These guys are demanding respect but it is not two years since the biggest officials in Italian football were found to be on the take? Justice must not only be done but it must be seen to be done.

However we carry on down a route where the Referee is beyond question and above even talking to the players and if that is the case then he has no right putting hands on them as Thorpe did Daley. How can Referee’s – how can anyone – get respected when they will not talk to you but will push you around?