Referees...and respect

This year saw the Football Association introduce a campaign calling on players to respect the referee. This was designed to draw attention to the verbal abuse that referees and linesmen sometimes receive from football players. In theory, it is a good idea although by nature football is a high tempo intense sport where emotions run high on the field of play.

Opinion is mixed where the respect the referee campaign is concerned. Several high profile managers have voiced their support while some players have poured scorn on the idea. Every week in English football referees make mistakes during games. Of course, the officials are only human so are therefore entitled to make the odd error and mistakes are not made on purpose.

In their defence players argue that they do not intend to abuse the referee. During a football match tempers can become frayed. If the referee gives an incorrect decision it is human nature for a player to feel aggrieved and that an injustice has occurred. In the heat of the moment players sometimes lose their temper and use, inappropriate language.

Incidents and flashpoints during a game of football are not always black and white. A number of different camera angles can offer contrasting evidence. The officials are under pressure these days in that every aspect of their performance is analysed by dozens of television cameras. This means there is no hiding place and any mistakes will be highlighted for the world to see.

A better solution would be to punish players for acts of petulance or abuse aimed at the referee or his linesmen. This could be in the form of a fine or a ban stretching for a certain number of matches. This would probably be far more effective than a publicity campaign that is ultimately doomed to failure.

For everyone connected with English football, the most annoying part of incorrect refereeing decisions is the complete lack of acknowledgement. If the referee were to speak after the match admitting his mistakes where appropriate this would surely lead to a greater respect from the players. This would only apply to the major incidents and would not have to be done with every minor error.

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