Apparently this weekend the Premier League officials have been terrible. However, the teams negatively affected were Wigan and QPR, so no-one cares, and the main beneficiaries were United, so no-one is allowed to talk about it. Luckily for you, Goalposts for Goalposts spits in the face of convention. Plus nobody reads us, so I probably won’t get sued.
There can be no doubt that both Wigan and QPR were harshly done by. The referee (or more probably in both cases, the linesman) got both calls wrong, and two sides in need of points were punished as a result, although Man U would in all likelihood have gone on to win anyway, so bad were QPR.
Officiating is the most thankless and difficult task in football. Referees have to contend with players trying to cheat all the fucking time. I was watching Swansea vs Newcastle on Friday, and players from both sides were contesting throw-in decisions near the halfway line, even though half of those protesting must have known it had come off their own player. And all that for the most innocuous, worthless set-piece in football (the FIFA 12 drop ball excepted). God forbid they should award a free kick around the box, or send-off a teammate.
Not only do they have to contend with players actively trying to con them over every decision, they have to do it in front of an all-seeing TV audience, with replays from every conceivable angle at the touch of a button. How many times have you shouted for an offside, or a foul, while watching the game live, only to change your mind after seeing a replay? Loads, because I do it and I’m smarter than you. The referee doesn’t get this luxury, and so we hate him.
Not that this is an argument for TV replays to be available to officials. The only thing I hate more than watching Rugby is watching Rugby and waiting for the call to be made on a try. It works fine in cricket because of the latter’s already broken-up nature, but one of football’s great strengths is the game’s continuous flow. Goal-line technology that can make the decision in a second, great. Anything else, I’m not so sure.
How many of you would have been prepared to bet, say, £500 on that United penalty being a dive the first time you saw it, with no replays? Because that’s what Lee Mason had to do, except instead of £500 it was 75’000 people screaming at him, plus the high-and-mighty judgment of everyone watching at home.
An offical has to make decisions in a fraction of a second, often from a difficult angle or while obscured by other players. I’d bet (read: Can’t be bothered to research) that most officials have a better than 90% rate of making the correct decision. Were that a midfielder’s pass completion stat, we’d be praising them to the high heavens. So how about you lot lay off officials?
Or I’ll send the boys round.