(Photo Credit: BBC.com/sport, 2014)
In the wake of the biggest win of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea career and Arsene Wenger’s 1,000 game as manager of Arsenal it would be fair to assume that these would be dominating the headlines this weekend but once again a referee is. Granted, it’s one of the most bizarre mistakes in premier league history.
During Chelsea’s demolition of Arsenal Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a save most keepers would have been pleased with and after some deliberation a penalty was given. The right decision. After this it meant that a red card also, had to be given. Again right decision. But, some how, the official Andre Marriner mistook Chamberlin for another player, Kieron Gibbs, sending him off. What an absolute howler! Everyone makes mistakes right? Not sure the Arsenal faithful will see it that way but it does lead you to question how hard is it really to be a referee?
I’ve been to enough games and met enough football fans to know that almost every single fan is an expert. All still ready for their call up to play, manager and referee their team to glory. I myself have been party to expletive chants towards officials on match days and it is frustrating when a decision made is wrong but that doesn’t make it right. Officials get far more right then wrong that part just gets ignored as ‘part of the job’.
Referee’s and match day officials have some of the hardest jobs in the world. This isn’t due to the skill involved but more to do with the passion, drive and ultimately balls it takes to wake up early on a cold Saturday morning and run around a muddy park while being abused by 20-30 mum’s and dad’s that have all raised the next Lionel Messi. The referee is too readily turned into the enemy at every level of the game maybe even more so in the grass roots form of the game. Everybody that played football as a child knows that one parent who would scream at the ref every weekend, if you don’t then you may have to look in the mirror, it was always passed of as ‘caring’ but is it? Or is it just setting an awful notion that abusing referees is acceptable into motion for the next generation?
In simple terms with no ref there is no game. It finally looks like more is being done to support these ref’s at the top level with goal line technology being introduced into the game but that’s not much good for everyone else. This abuse is something specific to football and only football, if we are to take a look at rugby the referee is called sir, imagine that on a football pitch! If you were to abuse a referee on a rugby pitch there is only one place you are heading, an early bath. This is apparent through all levels of the game from grass roots children’s matches to the World Cup finals and that is how a sport should be. It’s no secret that traits you learn as a child transcend in to adult life.
Do I see football changing anytime see? Unfortunately, no. The tribal, hooligan, ugly side of football is so ingrained in the culture that it is second nature to hound a man for making a mistake rather than too admit that the other team were better. Let’s not forget Chelsea were two up in 10 minutes while Arsenal had 11 men and the foul meant a red card had to be given to somebody.
In summary, the case of mistaken identity is awful but do I have respect for Marriner and what he does? Absolutely. Would I trade places with him or any other football official across any country, league or division in the world? Not a chance. I will stick to my position as arm chair expert sighing at the ugly undertones of the beautiful game hoping Andre has a set of thick skin to get him through this next week.