TRYING TO SEE LIFE FROM THE REFS’ ANGLE
AS PART of my role on the LMA’s Technical Panel, I attended a workshop organised by the Professional Game Match Officials to develop their members’ skills. It was a fascinating exercise.
What became clear, was that angles (a step right or a step left), reactions, interpretations, and even personal experiences make a difference to decisions (because however hard we all try, we are all human) and that we will never truly see consistency in decision-making even if technology begins to play a bigger part. Because so much still just comes down to opinion.
Around a workshop table, the same incident, under intense scrutiny, led to technically skilled/trained people (refs and assessors) having different and even opposite views.
When viewed from two different angles, the same incident looked like a harmless trip on one hand and a potential leg breaker on the other.
What was definitely evident though, was that there is a big opportunity for teams of officials to work much more closely together to improve decision-making. The ref does have only one angle on things while his assistants and fourth official have more potential to add their views.
It is important that we are all willing to see strength in the referee who seeks to use his team more comprehensively to get decisions right. The ref who does check and balance things is a wise man. Not a weak one.
We all get to hear about the ‘mistakes’ referees make. What is evident when you get behind the scenes is that there are a lot of good men with a love of the game, investing their time to learn about some intricate technicalities (for instance, when is offside actually offside nowadays?) and with the unenviable task of being judged on a Saturday afternoon by two sets of public both wanting every decision to be the other way round.
It is great to know learning is being shared and opinions are being exchanged; performance will thus get better.