Is It Time Officials Were Accountable-Image Credit-LiverpoolEcho.co.uk

Is It Time Officials Were Accountable?

Is it time officials were accountable? The simple answer to that from so many fans throughout the country is a resounding “Yes.” And they should have been a long, long time ago. The changes in the game have moved at such a pace over the last 20 plus years that everyone seems to be rapidly moving forward. Everyone that is apart from the match officials it seems. Or at least not as rapidly as the rest of the footballing world in this country. Well, apart from their salaries maybe. They have moved forward since they went professional. I read somewhere last week that their salaries now are in the region of £200k per annum. I’m not sure if that is correct, but if it is then that is some increase from the supposed £90k per annum when they first went professional.

There’s that word “professional” again. I’m racking my brains trying to think of any professionals who are a part of a professional organisation who earn in the region of £200k that are not accountable? For instance, if a lawyer makes a mistake they are accountable to their clients and to their governing bodies.

A significant difference in that last statement. I mentioned the word mistake. That word pre-supposes human error. But even human error needs to be accountable in some professions. Ask any surgeon. The referees close knit, comfy little club exempt themselves from being accountable for any such errors. However huge or damaging. There may be some justification provided by the referees club for such an exemption. But where do we draw the line?

Is It Time Officials Were Accountable?

Is It Time Officials Were Accountable-Image Credit-LiverpoolEcho.co.uk
Is It Time Officials Were Accountable-Image Credit-LiverpoolEcho.co.uk

Who can answer the question as to where we draw the line? The fans have already answered. In droves. That answer has been ignored for so long. The sheer arrogance of the powers that be in protecting the match officials and the match officials protecting each other in their close knit, smug, elitist club is staggering. Why are they so afraid of being accountable? Surely being accountable and standing up and announcing why you have made a certain decision will help clarify issues. Isn’t that for the whole benefit of the game?

Especially for those that really matter in the game. The fans. Yes, a fact that is so regularly ignored by the powers that be. The fans are, and always will be, the most important part of the components of the whole football world. But are the fans listened to? No, never.

Fans Are Merely Seen As Cash Cows

To the powers that be, fans are seen as cash cows. Nothing more, nothing less. Take the recent decision of charging fans £14.95 to watch a Premier League game on Sky. Apart from stating the obvious, what’s that all about? I’ve had rants here before on my “Fields Of Anfield Road” website about how badly treated fans are treated. In one post (I’ll dig it out and add the link somewhere) I mentioned an FA Cup tie that Liverpool played away at Exeter in 2016. What a great idea to move the game to an 8pm kick off on a Friday night. Not!!!

And the time of the last train from Exeter to Liverpool is? A pal of mine who goes to most home and away games still managed to make his way there. But the hassles it caused him were immense. Does that matter to the footballing powers that be? Not at all.

That of course is only one example. There are hundreds more. Every time there is a late Saturday night kick off for instance, is there ever any consideration for the away fans and their travelling issues? Of course not. The fans don’t matter. Let me stress here and now, I’m talking about fans of each and every club. Not just Liverpool. So let’s all just put football rivalries to one side for the time being. Whichever team we follow, we are all still football fans at heart.

Is It Time Officials Were Accountable? – A Probable Reason Why They Won’t Be

As touched on above, you would think that being accountable would help solve problems after a game. Not create more. So why don’t the match officials want to be accountable? It may well be that if they were they would feel threatened or exposed. Exposed to their incompetence that is. Or worse. We in this country have advocated for so long that we have the best league in world football. The best fans, the best stadiums, the best players, the best managers, you name it. Do you see who I haven’t mentioned there? No rocket science needed, the match officials of course.

Wouldn’t you think that for the supposed best league in the world we would have the best match officials? Well it is clear to every football fan and probably every player, manager, pundit, journalist and more that we haven’t. Nowhere near. Not remotely close. As a group they are so very poor. This has been suspected (or rather known) way before the introduction of VAR. So many heralded the introduction of VAR as a sort of saviour to the problems to any controversial decisions. And shouldn’t that have been the case? Well yes you would think.

An important part of the football package delivered to the most important part of the football package – the fans – are the match officials. With just over a season of VAR under their belt it is becoming clear that instead of heralding VAR, some (most) match officials are bricking it about its very existence. How many times do you see a referee have a look at the screen at the side of the pitch? Hardly ever. And this is despite one of the justifications being pre-VAR that referees only have a split second to judge on a decision. Hasn’t the ability to view a screen helped to eliminate the timing issue? You would have thought so.

VAR Room

But there again, there is also the safety net of having the officials in the VAR room to bale (help) them out. However, it would seem that the VAR room has only served to further highlight match day officials incompetence (or worse). How many times have we seen the VAR guys uphold the decisions of their muckers in their own, smug, clique, self administering, cosy little club? Loads of times. Virtually every round of games throws up some very puzzling decisions.

Let’s put aside the new confusing handball rules for now. This is a problem with the law as much as the incompetence, or the inconsistencies, of the match officials. But let’s focus on other decisions. And there are plenty. Without delving into the archives at all or YouTube, one that springs to mind recently was the sending off of Anthony Martial in the Manchester United v Tottenham game. What was that about?

Let’s hear the referee’s version of that. No doubt he would rightly say that as per the rules, raising a hand…..blah….blah…blah. But what about the so called victim, Erik Lamela? Didn’t he raise a hand as well first? Not only that, Erik Lamela!!! What’s he all about? Every fan knows he is a diver. And so do the referees of course.

So, when they see him falling like a sack of spuds in the penalty area what does everyone (apart from the match officials) think? Yes, he is cheating. Again!! Any card for simulation? Or for the initial incident whereby Lamela struck Martial first? No, nothing. And that is with the referee having a good view of the incident AND with the extra support of VAR. Can somebody explain that please?

Of course the one that can is the match day referee, Anthony Taylor. But he won’t or he isn’t allowed to. And within that one small example, amongst so many incidents, lies the real, big problem. Match officials are not accountable.

Is It Time Officials Were Accountable? – Imagine The Interview

So, in the Anthony Martial incident above. Imagine the interview.

“And why did you send Anthony Martial off?”

“Because he struck an opponent and in the rules of the game……blah….blah…..blah”

“So why didn’t you send Erik Lamela off? After all he struck Martial first? Didn’t you see that clearly? Even if you didn’t, there is the official in the VAR room. He would have seen it surely? Let’s bring him in shall we? And knowing that Lamela is a diver, why didn’t you book him for simulation? Hello, Mr Taylor and Mr VAR man (whoever it was on the day?), where are you going? You haven’t answered the questions.”

As I say that incident perfectly highlights the key problem. Why not explain it? It’s already been understood to some degree (only some) that pre-VAR days a referee could quite easily use the reason (excuse) that he didn’t see the incident properly first time around because of the speed of the incident. That nice little comfort zone has been blown away in this situation.

To portray to the watching public – you know who I mean, those insignificant cash cows – who pay all the other footballing participants wages, why not explain to them? Wouldn’t that make life easier for everyone? To my mind I would think yes it would. But no, the match officials have somehow managed to make football more about them on occasions. More than the players, the clubs, the managers and their perceived insignificant cash cows.

If Mr Taylor and Mr VAR man on the day had faced the cameras then they would have been exposed for what they are. Incompetent. At best. Or at worse, let the conspiracy theorists take that a stage further. On that note, let’s consider yesterday’s match against Everton. Take a step forward David Coote and take a bow, you’re in the limelight. Isn’t that great. Isn’t that what you wanted?

Yesterday’s Decisions

So, onto yesterday’s decisions. Now let’s picture the scenario. The cosy little clique referees club are already safe in the knowledge that their incompetence will officially stay under wraps. Yes, there will be forums, TV panelists and pundits etc, but not anything official or public announcing any incompetence. The special club makes sure of that.

So, as some conspiracy theorists are now – not unsurprisingly – speculating that safe in the knowledge that they are untouchable for any errors or evidence of incompetence, they can take things a stage further. In a more sinister way. Still knowing that they are untouchable and that they can replicate the same “errors” week after week.

Beyond errors or incompetence of course, some may now consider that certain decisions are made out of personal choice. That may sound amazing to some of the purists. But is it so off the scale? How else do you explain such decisions like yesterday?

If the Pickford hatchet assault on Virgil Van Dijk was missed as a result of an error or a level of incompetence then how on earth can you legislate for someone that inept being in such a role? Or, just as worse, if it was seen and it was deemed there was nothing wrong with the challenge then that is also incredible and also begs the employability question. Unless of course there was accountability.

Let Mr Coote explain that one. After all the stick he is correctly receiving you would think he would be demanding that his bosses allow him to clear the whole mess up. But not a peep. Yet that is.

And Just To Compound Matters

That incident in itself was bad enough but then the icing on the cake was the disallowed goal. How many people around the world have seen it now? Millions no doubt. How many, from the stills made available, think Mane was offside? Putting football rivalries to one side, truly, how many? I wouldn’t mind betting that the answer to that is one person. Or, maybe there are more. Those that aren’t protected by the safe house of the referees Ivory Tower step forward. Show everyone conclusive photo evidence that Mane was offside. There’s a challenge if ever I saw one.

Which brings you onto the whole issue about the lines. As Jordan Henderson quite rightly said, “they can bend the lines to make you look offside can’t they” or words to that effect. So, what are we looking at here. Should we be having a Civil Engineer or an Architect as a member of the VAR team and someone with a stopwatch? Why a stopwatch you may ask? Someone that can provide the precise timing of when the ball has been released by the passer.

That being the case, the Civil Engineer or the Architect can then draw the most accurate of lines. And, of course, the double whammy advantage of having this level of expertise is that if ever challenged, the complainants can be directed to their very own professional body to report any incompetence or errors.

But there in itself is another issue. Wasn’t VAR supposed to help eradicate clear and obvious errors? It wasn’t brought in for someone in a protected bubble to try and find reasons to disallow a goal was it? What was clear and obvious about the supposed offside yesterday?

Isn’t it the case that FIFA have said that if it would take so long to show a clear and obvious mistake then the benefit should go with the attacking team? In the hypothetical case of the Civil Engineer and the stopwatch bod, hasn’t that already gone beyond the realms of “clear and obvious?”

Are These Decisions Made Through Personal Choice?

These last couple of paragraphs are not a real suggestion for Civil Engineers by the way. But you can now see what these decisions could well turn in to. Or as the conspiracy theorists will say, “on the other hand.” And what is the “other hand?” There is a growing belief amongst fans that match officials are making decisions that they WANT to give. How else do you explain yesterday’s decisions. That is, decisions in the plural.

If one was an error or a show of incompetence, the magnitude of the error is bad enough. But two – or even more. One of these decisions on its own shows that such incompetence clearly demonstrates that this man isn’t capable of such a job. But looking at both!!! Let the conspiracy theorists take that one forward. As I say, how else can it be explained? There we go with that accountability issue again. And don’t forget, this fella has history when it comes to his appalling behaviour in the VAR room. Have a look at just one example HERE. A chill just went down my spine when I read this link – aaarrrghhhh, Martin Atkinson. If ever there was a case of two peas in a pod? What is the pod though?

So, what’s it to be? Is it time officials were accountable? In my mind the answer to that is a resounding “Yes.” And it has been for some time. Liverpool FC have themselves contacted the Premier League asking for three pertinent questions to be answered. Quite right too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more pressure put on the powers that be to make their delicate little toy soldiers accountable. It is long overdue.

And let’s also be clear. This a problem for every club in the Premier League. Not just Liverpool. It was Liverpool yesterday but next time it may be your club.

Fields Of Anfield Road Blog Posts

Thanks for reading my latest post – Is It Time Officials Were Accountable? – if you are indeed still reading. I’ve certainly let off a fair bit of steam. As I am writing this news of the injuries to Van Dijk and Thiago may well be known. I haven’t heard any news yet. Let’s hope it’s not too bad. To read all of my other blog posts on Fields Of Anfield Road click this link HERE.

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