Wednesday 12 November ~

Derided as a weak PR stunt, the FA's painfully ironic “Respect” campaign looks to be heading into full damage-limitation mode with it haemorrhaging credibility by the week. It appears that just three months in, managers are considering not only withdrawing their support but even a possible “strike” of sorts in protest of the much-criticised initiative. It's being reported that some managers may hold players in the changing rooms to delay the start or restart of a game in an attempt to make a dramatic appeal to beleaguered referees' chief Keith Hackett.

Football is characterised by its room for human error. Many would argue it's a trait that is integral to the game itself but the campaign has so far only appeared to increase tensions between referees and managers. A strike may be an unlikely measure but the mere consideration illustrates the severe shortcomings of the initiative. This season has already produced one of the most bizarre (and worst) refereeing decisions of all time with the infamous “phantom goal” in the Watford v Reading fixture back in September. But Paul Jewell, quoted in the Guardian yesterday, believes it not just the poor decision making, it's the lack of accountability: “Every manager says they are hard-done-by after games but some of the injustices this season aren't right.”  

“All we want,” he continued, “is for people to hold their hands up and say they made a mistake, whether it's a referee or a fourth official. They don't help themselves by cocooning themselves away like they're untouchable. Even if they had a go back, at least it's being human and not hiding behind a banner of 'Respect the ref'. Look at Aidy Boothroyd, he's lost his job now. That goal between Watford and Reading that was allowed by [Stuart] Attwell didn't cost him his job but it certainly didn't help.”

This month alone we've seen Joe Kinnear brand Martin Atkinson a “Mickey Mouse referee” (evidently keeping with his cartoon theme after his “Coco the Clown” outburst) and Roy Keane banished to the stands following a brief half-time chat with Atkinson during his side's 5-0 loss to Chelsea. Paul Ince, Tony Mowbray and Dave Jones have all recently publicly challenged refereeing performances too. The FA is pleading for more time but at this rate it may not even last the season. Respect, after all, is a two-way street. Dan Bryant

Comments (6)
Comment by loppy 2008-11-12 12:47:40

It's not often I agree with Paul Jewell (I'm a Sheff Weds fan) but he's right, all this would be over if refs had to attend a post match press conference where they could explain decisions and, if required, hold their hands up and say "I got it wrong". Repect would be far greater than the current system whereby refs are protected by the FAs security blanket and any questioning results in a disrepute charge.

Not sure bout the delaying start to games strike though, how long till a referee gets sick of waiting, and as happened in Uruguay recently with a referee got inpatient waiting for Nacional to grace the pitch with their prescence, abandons the match? Imagine that at Old Trafford with Chelsea in the away end?

Comment by colinwasp 2008-11-12 14:08:59

Hmmm... how many times do you hear a manager hold his hands up and admit his own mistakes though. OK, one officals' decision may cost you a match but poor tactics and team selection can account for the other 89 minutes....

Comment by The Exploding Vole 2008-11-12 14:54:30

All players make countless mistakes each game. We accept this. So why is the referee expected to be perfect?

Comment by tratorello 2008-11-13 00:36:19

“All we want,” he continued, “is for people to hold their hands up and say they made a mistake, whether it's a referee or a fourth official"

So if they admitted their mistakes after the game that would be it would it?

Wenger, Ferguson, et al would all just accept that the referee had made a mistake, then admitted it and the world would carry on in sweetness and light?

Hmmm...don't quite see it myself.

Comment by FAtrainee 2008-11-28 16:11:20

.......In relation to this, my amateur judgement suggests that the 'respect campaign', aimed at clamping down on players treatment towards referees and their decisions, will not dramatically influence the quality of our grassroot football or create a more relaxed and unified environment between teams and supporters. The referee will always be a wanker to Rooney and the army of backbenchers in the lofty heights of stadiums and sidelines across the country. The famous 'referee's a wanker' chant is iconic not of a lack of respect per se but more clearly represents a cultured and unorthodox projection of one's beliefs and desires towards the outcome of the game. Suppressing this aggressive, but strangely humourous voice from supporters and players alike, through a 'damage-limitation' policy such as the 'respect' campaign does not exactly provoke respectful behaviour. The objective of the respect campaign is seemingly directed at removing the 'emotional langauge' of players whilst given added incentive for referees to referee in a space almost independent of the game's emotion in the hope that this mantra will filter down to grassroot level. Eight thousand referees every year give up their whistles and this is largely due to outrageous abuse from players and supporters and a small paycheck on Sunday morning which does not reflect this grieve. But, whereas disrespect can be so easily fuelled by obsessive passions and a hatred towards the other; respect is more difficult to enlight. What would perhaps be more appropriate would be to offer more facilities in breaking down certain cultural barriers between identity and 'power' and improving our understandings of the dynamics in the traditional culutral infrastructure of the football world, for example, our culture often snobbishly mimics professional footballers for various personal attributes such as intelligence levels in relation to class, yet also have the cheek to slate them for not providing the public with the results it desires. On the other hand the 'respect campaign' although attempts to create a utopian football society, we must be cautious that it is more likely to create a frustrated and neurotic political correctness into the game........


Comment by Sandy 2009-10-23 21:44:03

The solution to the refereeing issue is straight forward and practical. Anyone booked for dissent or misbehaviour with regards to the referee should have to take the referee course and to referee lower league/non-league games (if they qualify) this would also go some way to relieving the shortage of referees.

If they don't qualify they have no right to comment on something they are not capable of doing themselves and,in my own personal experience, refereeing is much harder than it looks and there's nothing like experience to teach you this. When you do it yourself you realise how uncomfortably true is the chant " the referees a wanker" and funnily enough it also reduces ones desire to chant it at matches.

Managers always seem keen to protect their "wayward" talents taking an avuncular stance on their petulance, implying that its part of their nature. Poppycock( that's posh for bollox)! I would suggest that "natural eruptions" would soon be a thing of the past under the threat of having to referee matches and become a certified "wanker". This should not apply solely to professionals but to FA players at all levels and ages. It also transforms the punitive element involved in misbehaviour into something positive and beneficial to the game and society as a whole. Ramma-lamma-ding-dong , I sound like a social worker!

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