Aussie referees take a stand
In the past year I have written about and commented on the various types of abuse to which our match officials have been and still are being subjected. The most recent one was when my namesake Daniel Sweeney (again, no relation) was severely assaulted by four thugs after a game here in Ireland.
This week referees in the top tier of football in Australia decided to take a stand and covered up the “respect” badge on their uniform.
This came about as a result of comments made by Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan a few weeks previously. The referees had had enough and decided to use the game between Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory to highlight their cause.
In a post–match interview Rudan criticised the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system and also referee Adam Kersey for sending off one of his players.
He claimed the decision “couldn’t have been more one-sided”.
“If he [the referee] can sleep well at night, good on him. He’s cost us, he certainly has. My biggest disappointment is for my players right now because we deserved three points against the league leaders.”
The spineless, gutless administrators at Football Federation Australia failed to sanction Rudan for his outburst.
The referees made it clear that if no action was taken they would cover up their “respect” badges. They did so at the next round of fixtures. Good for them.
National associations will tell you that referees come under their control and that is correct, according to Fifa.
Where then is the protection for the refs when they are continually subjected to abuse and even threats?
Where is the association when referees’ safety and sometimes their lives are threatened? Where is the association when the refs and particularly the 4th officials are constantly being bombarded with verbal diarrhoea during the game? They are conspicuously absent. I am witnessing more instances in which the 4th official on the touchline is questioned, harassed and sometimes verbally assaulted because of a decision by the referee or his assistant.
The 4th official is in the firing line and an easy target. My question is – why are they allowing themselves to be abused like this and why are they even attempting to second-guess the ref’s decision?
Only recently we had a club owner use alleged racist comments at a referee in South Africa because of a disagreement over a particular incident. It is alleged the referee was prevented or obstructed from leaving the ground after the game.
This is appalling and unacceptable. The more the authorities stand back and do nothing, the more these hooligans masquerading as coaches/ managers will continue their nonsense.
There is a famous saying by an Irish political philosopher called Edmund Burke: “All that is required for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.”
The main problem, as I see it, is that there is no proper representation for referees at national association level in South Africa. There is a head of department but does he have power? If so, what are his powers and is he exercising them?
In a similar way, the English referees are “hamstrung” by petty, pedantic, soccer politicians who, if the truth be known, are more interested in protecting their own positions. Referees, as we’ve always been, are a necessary evil.
Congratulations to the Aussie refs for the stand they’ve taken and I hope it will yield the desired results.
Other countries could take a leaf out of their book and put an end, once and for all, to the abuse of match officials, which is unnecessary and undeserved.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers and wish you a very merry Christmas and a peaceful new year.