World Cup referees- bring back Collina


The reffing disgrace which has turned a decent World Cup into a farce, is threatening to overshadow the footballing side of the tournament.. after all, are we wanting to watch the world’s best players or the adjudicators?

There seems to be an attitude that because the rules have tightened, for the better I have to say, that practical decisions and sound judgement by referees have to be abolished.

Common sense has abdicated in the face of red tape, and fear of being chastised by a higher power appears to have subdued any rational thought of ‘maybe’.

The refs portray this air of overbearing authority and yet their decisions seem to have been made for them before a ball is kicked. It smacks of the “bully” boss in the workplace, whom everyone knows is going home to a dragon of a wife who will scrutinise his every living moment, before delivering a guilty verdict regardless of performance.

“I was under the impression that referees were trained by their coaches in how to keep the game flowing and that they should be invisible” said Chilean ex-pat Carla Beres. “But they are doing the opposite”.

A balance has to be struck and I hope and pray this will be achieved as this historic competition goes into the knock-out phase. We fans have already had to overcome the sad omission of several world class players through injury or circumstance.

The least we should expect is a fair crack of the whip for the remaining combatants. We deserve better and the sooner the beaks on high afford their charges a modicum of leeway, the better for all concerned.

Aussie Brazilian Richard Muniz is certainly concerned and is livid about the fare served up so far.

He said: “The referees in this World Cup have put on the most spectacular circus act I have ever seen.  Red cards have been dished out for players running into each other.  Tackles from behind have been awarded the red and in the same game let off with no card at all.

“Players hand-balling the ball twice in the area and nothing. Nice to see the Italians up to their usual diving acts in the penalty area and being rewarded with a penalty.

“This is the most inconsistent refereeing I have ever witnessed. “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I want to be a ref!”

In Scotland, we are well used to the sight of forehead banging, as the relentless charge towards credibility erosion by the finger-waggers gathers pace every week in the SPL.

Us Celtic fans have been well documented for our forthright agitation on this matter as decision after “abysmal” decision brings out the beta blockers in us.

Despite denials and claims of paranoia from our esteemed opponents, there are countless incidences of officials’ bias against Celtic and this has been the case since I can remember.

Referee Supervisor Hugh Dallas’ startling admission that the men he personally coaches have been guilty of ‘honest mistakes’ is reminiscent of the apprehended burglar pointing the finger at his mates fleeing down the gravel drive with their swag bag.

He stopped just short of emulating his Monarch with an “Annus horribilus” line. Horribilus indeed, but for whom?

“We have been credited with being among the most educated and intelligent football fans in the world, yet the people who matter in the game treat us like we are complete idiots with their deflections and solidarity style backs to the wall quotes from the SFA offices. I think the reverse is the case” fumed Brisbane Bhoy Tony McManus.

This World Cup however, proves that substandard refereeing is a global epidemic and not confined to the domestic or European scene.

Kaka’s sending off for merely putting his arm up to protect himself from an onrushing opponent has simply highlighted the low standards which have pervaded our beloved sport.

One of the world’s greatest talents denied the chance to feature in the next Brazil match in the greatest event of all, for the heinous crime of doing…nothing!

Fortunately for the Samba Kings, they are already through and may have chosen to rest the great one for the next match, but that choice should have been theirs-not made for them by an incompetent.

“Excessive decision by the ref sending Kaka off last night” seethed Katy Henderson from Glasgow. “He merely shrugged the guy off-wrong decision ref”!

In Italy, the match fixing scandals which rocked the country, and indeed the world a few years back, brought the unseemly and unwanted tainted spotlight onto the sport as a whole. Clubs were relegated-and one (Milan) was reinstated.

Is it coincidence then, that the Italian Prime Minister was also the owner of said admonished club? Reputations were tarnished and fears that football had been hijacked by unscrupulous overseers was the commonly held view of most.

In Colombia, it is not unusual for three referees to be selected for a particular high profile match beforehand, only for the “real” ref in the trio to be helicoptered onto the centre circle as the game is about to commence.

This of course, is the only way to avoid bribery by the match fixing gangs, especially in the drug capital Bogota. The sight of Hugh Dallas entering the stadium in this fashion would only serve to accentuate the chants of “fly man” by quick witted wags in the crowd I fear!

Let’s hope that for the remainder of South Africa 2010, the media scribes enjoy writing more reports about skill, goals and colourful characters, than referees with a penchant for the quick shrill and a shot at the limelight. Fame is a fickle mistress and football fans have long memories.

The men in the middle would do well to remember this and try to behave like the professionals we expect them to be. Or is that asking too much? Oh for a Pierluigi Collina!

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