Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"It's all about the passion, innit"

There's an FA proposal to launch a pilot scheme where only team captains are allowed to speak to the referee. Some clown rang Five Live tonight and said - and I quote - "that kind of thing's fine in rugby because they're all upper class but football's all about passion...."
I will not sleep until I have counted the ways in which this is bollocks.
1. There is clearly no point trying to persuade fools like these that rugby union is, and always has been, played by a wider range of people than they think. So I won't.
2. But I would like to be standing by when they told Gareth Thomas or Lewis Moody that they didn't understand passion.
3. While clearly the England team are exclusively effete public school nances, you wouldn't say the same about the Welsh, let alone the Fijians or the Tongans or the Romanians, all of whom play by the same rules and observe the same conventions.
4. Rugby players constantly try to influence the ref - people like George Gregan are chattering to him all the time - but they never try to intimidate him. Martin Johnson never confronted a ref like John Terry does nearly every game.
5. Rugby League players, who are as rough-hewn as you like and could have the entire Premiership for breakfast, earrings and all, never argue with the ref because they're not allowed to. The same applies in most sports.
6. Arguing with football referees is a high level form of cheating. It's not done in the hope of changing his mind. It's done in the hope of getting the next decision.
7. It's orchestrated and sanctioned by managers and coaches at the very top of the game. If they want to stamp it out they just have to get half a dozen blokes in a room.
8. If you've ever watched a game of schoolboy football and seen how small children, with the active encouragement of their parents, copy this behaviour, you'll recognise that the day is not far off when the only people who will volunteer to referee football at any level will be those with the kind of personality disorders which ought to disqualify them.


  1. And have you EVER seen a football referee change his mind? No thought not.

    I'm a football fan who is hugely disillusioned with the game at the moment and part of it is the arrogance of the players, managers and the like. They think that because they are the stars no one dare tell them what to do and that includes the referee.

    Football can learn a lot from rugby and this idea is about captains beingthe only ones allowed to speak to the ref over a decision is excellent. However, the FA, UEFA and FIFA have to back referees up when they send everyone surrounding them off and have to abandon the game for lack of players. I suspect that they won't and normal child like petulance will be resumed.

  2. I've a friend who made it onto the first couple of rungs of the FA's refereeing ladder... he gave it up because he was just constantly being abused. Who would want to get up early on a Sunday morning, drive to some shitty park to referee a game on your own, with no assistants, where no matter how hard you try, someone is always going to be furious about that impossible offside decision when someone humps the ball from penalty area to penalty area, and you've no chance of keeping up with play?

    As for intimidating the referee... well, John Terry's a big fella, but he's a bit soft next to Martin Johnson isn't he? If Johnno squared up to referees they would be really scared.

    You don't get much diving in rugby either.


  3. Anonymous8:40 am

    As the mighty Half Man half Biscuit once sang:

    Wouldn't it be fun
    If they gave the ref a gun?

  4. Anonymous9:09 am

    If rugby players argue with the ref then the penalty or free kick is moved 10 metres closer to their line. If it then gets into kicking range too bad, they've possibly given the opposition 3 points as reward for the back chat. Also the ref can reverse decisions if players retaliate after they have won the penalty - so they keep quiet.

  5. Anonymous10:47 am

    Perhaps they should change the rules in football to allow referees to send players off immediately, if they protest.

    That would soon stop the situation. Imagine Chelsea playing with only 4 players for most of a match!

  6. Anonymous10:59 am

    The thing which is wrong with this initiative it that they're starting it at the bottom rung of the ladder. They should start it with the teams which kids see on TV every week.

    Brian Clough had the right idea - he didn't allow his teams to argue with the ref, full stop.

    While it's rubbish to say that all rugby players are upper class, what is undeniable is that they tend be a bit brighter. I just caught a glimpse of a Joe Cole press conference on the news - thick doesn't even begin to describe him.

  7. slightly off the point, but isn't the point of partaking of any sport that you accept that sometimes things don't go your way, and the idea is that you bear it all with a patient shrug and get on with it.

    I think i saw on the telly, (or perhaps it was just a horrendous nightmare), where after a match, they interviewd the ref and showed him some, er, questionable decisions he might have made and ask him to comment on them. Aye - now that I think of it, it was on some sky coverage. Well, i mean to say WHAT?!? As soon as the whistle is blown, the refs word is law. As our old History teacher used to say 'if the ref blows the whistle and says you've three heads, just nod all of them and play on'

  8. Anonymous1:22 pm

    If they used the 10 meter rule they use in rugby for arguing with the ref most of our football superstars would be finishing their careers in Norway!

  9. The thing I think all football fans want is to see a ref being firm and booking anybody who argues. But the managers would bleat and the FA would not back the referees up so it would continue.

    Like Marmiteboy I have grown to loathe football over the last couple of years. It is so far away from what I used to enjoy. I wish the whole fucking thing would collapse.

  10. Anonymous11:04 am

    Also to blame are: the increasing number of phone-in's, commentators (Alan Green) and the 'analysis' by ex-players. All of these focus on the ref's performance (99% of the time negative) and this diverts the viewer's attention from the game of football onto the quality of refereeing decisions. The ref is never discussed in Rugby's post-match chat. It makes me smile when on MotD Hanson & Shearer will analyse an offside with all the latest technology, various camera angles and plenty of time, and they STILL sometimes can't tell. Yet generally they'll say "the lineman's got that wrong - that's a bad decision." It's like bird flu, foot & mouth and Afghanistan, if they stop talking about it, it'll go away eventually. Rgds, Roger