Refereeing in the Modern Age of Football: Is It Ruining Our Beautiful Game?

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IMarch 26, 2009

I heard an interesting conversation recently between a pair of broadcasters on the game of football and the state of the on field regulatory official and the behaviour of said individual.

One of them was lamenting what he described as the deterioration of the game due to the over regulation of the slide tackle and the unwillingness to crack down properly on the issue of simulation by the tackled player.

This was a primary issue in his argument that the officialdom was to blame for everything that had happened in relation to the rough play issue and the relation of this problem to  the decline in the amount of respect shown to officials by players and managers.

I was lucky enough to catch a clip of a match from the 1974 between Brazil and Holland which was highly skilled and entertaining but would have had no place for many of the current crop of footballers.

They just wouldn't handle the physicality of it and the commitment of the official to keeping the game flowing and the respective sides equally staffed for the entire match.

In the match I refer to there is actually a sending off but it comes after repeated infringement which is in the mind of many purists the correct way for a referee to handle a game so that the equality of numbers is maintained to the betterment of the game as a spectacle and as a pastime.

It is vital that the regulatory side of football is kept in check by the players and the administration itself in order for it to remain the game that the world has fallen in love with.

Much has been taken from the game due to the current attitudes toward certain types of play and the lack of respect for certain types of footballing technique which are more to do with physical strength than finesse on the ball.

The argument here could be that the physical aspect is as much a part of the game as the finesse and should be held up as a key factor in the sustenance of football as an endeavour and a global pastime.

Referees on many occasions now tend to over do the job they have been put forward to do. This is not entirely due to their own thinking but also it is taught to them as being the correct way to control a match of football.

The last world cup was a blatant example of the deterioration in the standard of officialdom and the decline in the ability of officials to control a football match, the world cup before that as well for that matter.

Hopefully in the near future their will be a concerted effort made to rein in the political correctness that is destroying the game as a spectacle and robbing us of the chance to see some truly memorable outcomes to matches.

An example of this could even be given in the sending off of Vidic in the recent Manchester United Liverpool fixture. By today's standards many thought he had crossed the line and was deservedly sent from the field.

But in the interests of football it could have been a better outcome if he was allowed to remain on the field and United could have fashioned some sort of fightback that might have been remembered for generations, even if it was unsuccessful.

This is the nature of probability that exists in the game of football and probability is here the thing that is sometimes being altered by the over zealous nature of some referees.

The foul he pulled would have not caused the referee in the 74 WC match to bat an eyelid before giving a free kick and telling Vidic to calm down.

Hopefully we are still able to save the game and the methods that have made it the worldwide phenomenon it is.

If we do not it will become something entirely different to the legend it was built around.