Friday, August 11, 2017


Foreign Referees Are Little More Than Window Dressing

Remember when you were at school and you would often play up in class, especially when there was a particular Maths teacher who you knew you could manipulate or get around? Yeah, you would still get in trouble after but any punishment was only a slap on the wrist and as such could be brushed away quickly 'cos you knew this teacher would not/could not catch you every time you played up.

What stopped you playing up was when you knew there would be the head of year in the class for the duration of the lesson. You knew he would take no shit from anyone, anytime. His tolerance level was nine below zero. You knew it, your mates knew it so at least when the head of year was standing in front of the class you were on your best behaviour, your desk was neat and tidy and you even did your homework.

You knew what you were doing in the classroom was wrong but that was never gonna stop you because it was so much fun playing up and let's face it, you earned a reputation as being a bit of a lad, someone who didn't take no shit from authority.

But sometimes you were content to let authority win because you knew there was only one head of year. He could not be in every class every lesson of the school year. One set of eyes was never enough to compensate for the incompetent, hapless teacher who was being tasked to teach you and other classes algebra.

And the thing is you always knew in advance when the stricter teacher was going to be in the classroom and you could prepare yourself accordingly. Hell, you even got your mum to buy you yet another ruler because you had broken the last one on the back of Spotty Smithers' head.

This is what is happening with foreign refs. Players and officials who take the piss week in, week out know they can take the piss because they can get away with it. Referees aren't always the final judge and jury on the football field we would like them to be and players know this. It is one reason why they can act so shocked when decisions blatantly go against them but act like they have seen nothing when their team is the beneficiary of those decisions. 

Who wants  to be a ref?
But when a foreign ref takes the field players will be suddenly on their best behaviour. They know that for once the rules become the rules and their petulant play acting and prissy fits will count for nothing. The game for once becomes a level playing field. So they bite the bullet and go out there and play football. Yes, they may whinge and moan, who doesn't in football, but they will know they are less able to con the match officials like they are able to do week in, week out, at least for one game.

PSM coach Robert Alberts has not been in favour of foreign match officials since the idea was first mooted. He believes if refs could call on video assistance that should be enough. I'm not so sure. How can we be sure any official charged with monitoring the video will be in a sterile area free from outside interference? We saw one referee use video technology during a game earlier in the season and the decision seemed to have been widely accepted but would that work across the whole country?

In an ideal world match officials should be parachuted in on match day, do their game and escorted away without coming into contact with local officials but that is never going to happen. In a country the size of Indonesia the logistics involved in moving people around the country are enormous and expensive, news will soon leak out.

Each game has a referee assessor but we have no idea what they say in the reports they produce after each game or how much pressure they are put under to provide a 'favourable' report about a performance even though any neutrals in the stadium will know there were elements of the display that were just plainly wrong.

I guess what I'm saying is that there is no quick fix to improve match officials until we have football clubs, and football club officials, who are willing to accept being beaten over 90 minutes home and away. In sport there are winners and losers and football is no different. Sadly there are some people who are unwilling to accept losing and will go to extremes to ensure their team does not lose. This short term thinking acts as a massive brake on local football and ensures local players will never be able to compete overseas because foreign refs have different ideas regarding the rules of the game.

Foreign refs are I fear an honest attempt to try and change things but they are ultimately window dressing. More professional match officials are needed but who wants to be a professional ref when you know any team that takes offence at a decision that goes against them would be quite happy to attack you, slap you and beat you?

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