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Should refs support teams?

It’s been reported that an English Premier League (EPL) referee has been taken off a game where it was found it might be a conflict of interest with him in charge.

Kevin Friend who supports Leicester City has been removed from the Tottenham Hotspurs v Stoke City game and replaced by another senior match official Neil Swarbrick.

Spurs are chasing Chelsea for their first Premier league title, or 1st Division as it used to be called, since 1961. The incident has provoked an immediate response from the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino who said he had no problem with referee Friend and couldn’t understand why the change had been made.

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger also said that a dangerous precedent was being created. Pochettino said he never requested the referee to be replaced and expressed his happiness to have Mr Friend as the referee on Monday.

That being said the question now arises, and has arisen in the past – should referees be supporters of certain teams? Are referees openly supporting certain teams and is there a conflict of interest?

It’s a natural thing to support a team I suppose but the problem I have is to be openly supporting your favourite team while operating as a referee in the league in which they play.

There were reports of one retired referee who asked not to be appointed to his favourite team and this was apparently agreed to by the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in England.

It’s my opinion that when you’re operating at such a high level, or at any level for that matter, you should not make your preference known to the general public. Keep it to yourself otherwise you (the ref) will be under suspicion when it comes to making what might be termed by cynical people to be alleged dodgy decisions for “your” team, or against the opposition.

Finally on this matter – why did it take the PGMOL so long to make the change? Appointments for PL games are made weeks in advance and now suddenly just 48 hours before the game the change is made. Mmm… something suspicious going on I wonder?

“Manufactured” drop ball

What is a “manufactured” drop ball?

Very simple really. This happens when the referee stops the game while the ball is still in play for whatever reason. The game must be restarted by a drop ball.

Law 8 of the Fifa Laws of the Game “The Start and Restart of Play” says:

“the referee drops the ball at the position where it was when play was stopped.”

“The ball is in play when it touches the ground.”

“Any number of players may contest a dropped ball (including the goalkeepers);”

“The referee cannot decide who may contest a dropped ball or its outcome.”

Now this is the part that is bugging me and it comes under “Outline Summary of Law Changes” on page 112:

“The referee cannot ‘manufacture’ the outcome of a dropped ball.”

I see it happening all the time. A player is injured and the ref stops play. That means a drop ball is the way to restart the game. Now because team A’s player was injured and “benefitted” from the stoppage in play, the referee then says to team A players – you kick it back to the opposition.

He cannot do that. It’s contrary to the Laws.

I know there’ll be those who say that there’s nothing wrong and it’s “Fair Play.” Well there is something wrong because it’s in contravention of Law 8 (read above).

Please referees – just do your job according to the Laws of the Game and not make it up as you go along. Behaving in this way just leads to confusion, inconsistency, and accusations of some form of skulduggery.

Many teams will tell you that the one most important thing they want from referees is consistency. Consistency right across the board by all match officials in all games in all countries.

We won’t get it if some referees are deliberately flouting the Laws with this kind of behaviour.

Happy Whistling

Dr Errol Sweeney

Aka “The Hanging Judge”

Email: thehangingjudge88@gmail.com

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