How referee immunity affects fair play in football

In a bid to curb the sprouting rate of corruption in football via refereeing and general match officiating, administrators of the game have adopted various mechanisms contributing to the game’s overall evolution. From the introduction of assistant referees to fourth officials, goal line officials, and lately, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

They have all been proof of what is entailed or rather expected from the germane iceberg which spells out FIFA’s intentions of abolishing and exterminating every form of cheating from the sport. In no surreptitious terms, the president of football’s governing body, Gianni Infantino has often stressed one out of the federation’s multiple objectives _ carrying an anti inappropriate conducts in human face.

With such level of gamesmanship intolerance and hatred for crooked results derivation means, many wonder why certain debates surrounding referee immunity have been shoved aside.

Mourinho’s opinion on Premier League officiating policies and VAR

José Mourinho in 2020, addressed this motion in a post-match press conference while he was still at the helm of affairs at Spurs. His views regarding the decision of the English Premier League’s forbidding managers to comment on Referee performances were clearly stated in his interview. Being upset about persistent unfavorable officiating conditions – including denial of penalties and goal cancellations – he opted to bypass the league’s principles and air his candid opinions.

In his words:

“I feel free to comment on referees’ performances after the performances but I don’t like it and I know I can’t by the legal point of view make any comment before matches. And that’s it.

“I don’t know who the VAR was at Villa, in our match was Paul (Tierney) – the referee on the pitch and the referee boss was Michael Oliver. I think you should have access to them, I know the rules don’t allow it.

“I think you should have access to them. To ask directly why. Very important. They are very important in the game. A game is players, managers, referees, I think so.

“It would stop nothing, make things much more open, much more clear. It would give the referee the opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I made a mistake – I feel sorry for that’, or ‘Yes I had incredible performance’, or ‘Yes I was perfect’.

“I think they are very important in the game, as important as players.”

The humanity of video assistant referees

In FIFA’s defense, the VAR was introduced to curb errors. However, since the inception of next gen technology usage, controversies have multiplied in spades. Humanly speaking, it doubled the need to filter out faulty officiating.

There are instances when VAR have refused to award clear goals, review offside calls properly and totally complete 90 minutes of game action error free. All of which include signs of humans present behind the utilization of technical equipment which does not set expected efficiency rate to 100%. Efficacy rate impervious of detailed explanations concerning accurate referee decision making indicates a fragmentary aspect emplaced by FIFA itself.

A simple question guiding every inquisitiveness pertaining to this issue is why? Answers are required and the sources conveying them must be verifiable, preferably, entrants involved in the controversy.

More evidence of denying officiating accountability

Back in April, Arsenal and Liverpool played out a 2-2 stalemate at Anfield. Nonetheless, the talking point emerged at halftime when assistant referee, Constantine Hatzidakis elbowed Liverpool fullback, Andy Robertson. The initial reasons behind the alteration and referee’s subsequent shocking reaction remains unknown to many spectators. Yet, many wonder why the assistant ref resulted to such ridiculous kinetic response.

In such fortuitous scenario, it was expected that Hatzidakis faced pressmen with provisions of detailed answers, explaining what was said and why it took such an unlikely toll on him. Yet, managers could face an entire month of media meetings two times more than usual. As for Hatzidakis, his misconduct case investigation was merely prioritized by the English FA as he was briefly suspended before being recalled to action.

Why most of the adopted punishments seem appropriate, understanding Hatzidakis’ public lack of accountability for clear on-pitch errors leave a half-filled sense of acceptance for FIFA’s fair play policies. Apparently, immunity for match officials leave one party from multiple out of necessary scrutiny. Therefore, reinstating that not just managers and players have bad spells.

The effect of referee immunity on development of the sport

Cases were referee on-pitch decisions are forgotten as soon as the final whistle is blown might also be a huge contributor to match-fixing, stating that a large chunk of match officials are believed to have just 90 minutes under hot water. After regulation time, most of their impacts on the flow of the game are barely recollected by average fans. This resulted in heaving many performance denunciation on players and their gaffers.

According to Mourinho, a football game is about players, managers and refereres. None are faultless. Just as players have adverse game days, as do referees. If this in anyway feasibly affect team performances and eventual results inimically, they should be liable for their misdeeds. And just like managers, they should be summoned to post match interviews with journalists.

Credits to the English premier league who have now decided to lead the fort by setting up an officiating based review program, one which accounts for more transparency and could be emulated by other leagues in the near future.

As seen recently in Liverpool’s defeat to Tottenham back in September, when a clear Luis Diaz goal was ruled out for offside. More investigations towards faulty officiating will improve alertness of match officials towards on-pitch mistakes and help stimulate the improvement FAs desire.

Inquiries should be made, questions should be asked, both personal and self reflective. Sit them down in a room with the press and have them explain why they awarded that penalty, or ruled out that obvious goal. Have them judge their performances publicly as suggested by Mourinho and expect nothing short of officiating betterment.

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