7 Ways to Help Premier League Referees
It's easy to shout profanities at referees, but instead of destructive hate, look at the situation constructively.
In last night's FA Cup semifinal, referee Martin Atkinson reinforced the notion that technology needs to be incorporated into officiating football games.
Regarding officiating in the Premier League, here are seven ways to help improve the standard of refereeing.
7. No Tolerance Policy to Dissent
Marco Zoro once attempted to leave the field with the match ball after being racially abused, so don’t tell me referees have to toughen up and accept abuse from players.
A few years ago, Ashley Cole went out of his way to humiliate referee Mike Riley, knowing the official was too scared to send him off. Cole had escaped a blatant red card for assaulting Alan Hutton (who is no angel himself).
When I talk about dissent, I'm not talking about a nutter like Javier Mascherano, who said "F--- off" to referee Steve Bennett at least five or six times.
I'm talking about the snide remarks here and there like "Ref, c'mon—I didn't complain about those other calls, but that one was the wrong call."
Players with high football IQ know how to coax a referee onto their side by belittling his decisions in a constructive manner.
Do you know who the best at this is? Xavi.
In the 2009 El Derbi Barceloní, Xavi was constantly in the ear of referee Eduardo Iturralde González.
González later caved in and awarded Barcelona a nothing penalty.
If a player shows dissent in any form to a referee (with the exception of a challenge, which we'll discuss later), the referee shouldn’t pull out the yellow card for dissent, it should be a red card and the governing body should suspend that player for a game.
Referees need to officiate a game without being intimidated or too scared to make the right and often brave call.
6. Show Advanced Statistics of Referees to the Public
According to the Professional Game Match Officials Board, 92 percent of major decisions are called correctly by Premier League referees.
I don’t believe that for a second because referee Michael Oliver failed to spot three clear penalties—one in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Fulham and two in Norwich City’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
So he certainly doesn’t have a 92 percent success rate on major decisions; therefore, it’s impossible for all Premier League referees to have that high of a percentage.
That being said, I believe in the 80-20 principle where 20 percent of incorrect decisions make up 80 percent of a referee’s reputation.
Hold the referee accountable by making statistics of their decisions available to the public.
How many mistakes has Oliver made this season? How many correct calls has referee Andre Marriner made? How many fouls does referee Howard Webb call in favour of Manchester United verses fouls called against them?
At the end of the season, you look at the referees who have made the most mistakes and relegate them to the Football League.
Making advanced statistics on referees available to the public facilitates two things: 1) It cuts out the 80-20 principle on a referee’s reputation and 2) it holds referees accountable to the public.
For all we know, 60 percent of Webb’s decisions go against Manchester United. Until the public has access to these statistics, his reputation as pro United will continue.
5. Poach Failed Footballers
Some of the best managers have been failed footballers because it’s their only chance to make football a career.
There should be a pathway for failed trainees to become professional referees.
It not only increases the amount of referees in the game but you have officials who were trained as professional footballers.
4. Employ the Best Foreign Referees
Right now, there are 16 Premier League listed referees; expand it to 20 and make it 15 home-grown referees and five foreign referees.
You’d be surprised how good foreign referees are. According to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, there were no Premier League referees in the top 15 referees from 1987-2011.
Referee Ravshan Irmatov could be drunk and he’d probably still make more correct calls than Stuart Attwell.
God bless Attwell, but I have never ever seen a referee make so many high-profile mistakes.
3. Use 2 Main Officials
According to a study, the speed of Premier League football has increased by 20 percent in the past five years.
The game has become so fast that sometimes it’s impossible for referees to keep up with the play.
Referee Mark Clattenburg was just behind Pedro Mendes when his audacious long-range shot was parried over the line by Roy Carroll.
Clattenburg had no chance to see it, whereas if Dermot Gallagher was the second official referee, he would have positioned himself in the box and called Mendes’ goal.
What about Clattenburg’s linesman that day? Well, he was in line with the second to last Manchester United defender and they had all pushed up after Carroll swept up play.
There are two linesmen to cover each half, so why not have two main referees?
2. Technology Is There to Help
I suspect referee Martin Atkinson didn’t want to relive the embarrassment of not seeing Clint Hill's clear goal a month or so ago.
When Juan Mata and Salomon Kalou instantly celebrated, it made Atkinson’s decision easier, so he called it a goal when it wasn’t.
If goal-line technology was implemented, then Atkinson wouldn’t have erred on the side of caution for Hill’s goal and then pulled the trigger for Mata’s ghost goal.
1. Incorporate a Challenge System
FIFA can solve two issues—bad refereeing decisions and diving—by implementing one change.
A challenge system contradicts the referee’s authority, but what is the greater good here? It is to get the decision correct.
Gareth Bale wouldn’t have dived to win a penalty against Arsenal knowing Wojciech Szczęsny would have challenged the decision.
Not only would the penalty have been overturned, Bale would have received a yellow card for simulation.
Please read "Carragher's 7 Worst Moments This Season."