Referees are destroying the beautiful game. At least, this is how the likes of Arsene Wenger and Samir Nasri see it. Controversy surrounding officials in all sports will continue to be an issue for as long as the sport exists.
The real problem is that there is no form of damage limitation. Robert Green makes a match-changing mistake by letting Clint Dempsey’s strike escape his clutches and dribble over the line in the 2010 World Cup, in South Africa, and is replaced for the rest of the tournament; Massimo Busacca makes an equally match-changing mistake by giving Robin van Persie his second yellow card for shooting one second after the whistle in the Champions league clash between Arsenal and Barcelona and what does he get? Protection.
Protection from the UEFA who have given Arsene Wenger and Samir Nasri a one match ban from all European competitions following their ‘inappropriate language’ regarding Busacca. Come on now, UEFA, he’s a big boy; he can handle a little bit of criticism. The problem with the majority of referees, particularly over issues of playing on after the whistle, is that they severely lack common sense. The question Mr Busacca had to ask himself is why Van Persie would risk a second yellow card in such a closely fought, epic encounter between arguably the best two passing-sides in the game, knowing that it would result in his exclusion from the game in question and the next game if they were to proceed. The answer; he wouldn’t.
Do be serious. I know footballers aren’t portrayed to be the academics of the world, but they’re not that mentally challenged. The offside was extremely marginal so Van Persie would not have known a free kick would be coming Barca’s way, the shot was one second – ONE SECOND – after the whistle and there was a 95,000 strong crowd who I would argue were probably making more noise than Busacca’s whistle.
If referees continue to make mistakes yet continue to be asked to referee in the next week, there is no real incentive for them to stand up and make big, yet correct decisions that can decide if a team win or lose. For this reason, there should be some form of discipline if they have a bad game, be it a week ban from officiating or be it a performance-based wage.
I could almost guarantee that all of you football-fans out there have asked your television set “how much is he being paid?” after seeing someone missing an open goal for £100,000 a week. Well, the same should be asked of referees if they have a mare. The leading lights in the officials’ world also receive extortionate amounts of money, but should they if they make decisions that can decide a team’s fate? Realistically; probably not.
If your gardener ripped up the grass in your garden and turned it into a swamp, you would probably be reluctant to pay him as he has not done his job properly. Similarly, if a referee makes a catastrophic decision that unfairly changes a game, they should not receive their payment. Officials should be treated like adults, not children who get shadowed from all forms of criticism and so do not learn from their mistakes. They should be the ones punished for their mistakes, not those who have the guts to stand up and tell them about it.