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It's time for officials to speak out

Another weekend of domestic football. Another weekend of controversy.

That's not just last weekend though. Penalties not awarded, harsh red cards given, goals ruled out incorrectly, the list goes on.

With officials continually coming under immense scrutiny by mangers, pundits and fans alike it prompts the question, why are they not given the opportunity to justify their decisions?

Refereeing is probably the most unenvied job in football. It's impossible at times. Despite their performance, the team that wins are likely to be the ones happy, the majority of the time losing teams will feel they have reason to blame the referee or assistant for a mistake that cost them the game.

The fact of the matter is they simply cannot please everyone.

Unfortunately for referees when they make a mistake it is highlighted because it can not only have an effect on the outcome of the match, but a title race or put an end to a cup run. Especially at the top level, with so much money involved in the current game, every single decision is magnified as it could cost a club millions.

Opinions are divided

Controversial decisions are always shown repeatedly in the studio after the game and on programmes such as Match of the Day and Football Focus; pundits slow down the incident, use angles that the referee doesn't have access to in real time to come to conclusions, and even then opinions are sometimes divided.

Officials have a split second to make a judgment and have one view of the incident; with the speed of the modern game it it's no surprise that some decisions cause conflict.

Referees are often accused of favouring the 'bigger' teams, 'bottling' certain incidents in big matches and getting critical decisions wrong. Inconsistency and interpretation is another huge problem with officiating in the modern game as it remains a grey area; some referees seem reluctant to send off players whilst others are quick to reach for their pockets.

Managers interviewed after the game often speak out of turn about the officials in the heat of the moment. Blaming them and questioning their capabilities suggesting their wrong decisions were the catalyst for them dropping points. Fines and warnings about their future conduct in post-match interviews are often handed out; which may seem unfair considering emotions are still running high.

It's at times like these that referees should speak out about how they feel the match went and to explain how they saw a controversial decision and why they did what they did in the same way that managers are expected to for clarity.

Imperfections

Association and federation officials have taken the concept of respecting officials too far by making them immune to any and all criticism. Their imperfections are inevitable but that doesn't mean that they should be glossed over.

It would be much better to acknowledge and correct them in a more transparent manner. If UEFA, the FA were openly and constructively critical of their officials, then and only then would players, managers and club officials have no reason to take matters into their own mouths.

The bottom line is officials need help. Without technology or some form of guidance it seems they are providing an analogue service in a digital world as the speed of the game sometimes makes it impossible to correctly officiate every decision in every match.

Referees are human, therefore they will make mistakes, it's inevitable. They need to be empowered with technology if football is to become a fair game.

Officials are as much a part of the game as the fans, players and managers, so they should be should not be treated differently and should be given more opportunity to speak out.

By George Chambi


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