Being a professional referee in the Premier League is an extremely tough job. The old adage “Who would ever want to be a referee?” rings particularly true in the EPL. They get more abuse than we as fans care to admit, and every single one of us has been guilty of being on the wrong side of a decision before viewing the instant replay.
Unfortunately, these truths are never likely to change. Respect is generally earned through a great deal of sacrifice, dedication and quality, but given the pressure these referees are under, it's hard to determine where the validity of these insults should end. Do they deserve it? Should there be more protection implemented for these men that give everything for the sake of the game?
When it comes down to it, no. Anything and everything in this game can be analyzed down to an absolute T, including the men in black and bright blue that run the show. The bottom line is this: when you're preparing to become a referee, you are given the correct training and guidance with regards to how you can compose yourself in high intensity situations. There should be absolutely no room for failure, yet that is what we get week in and week out.
That's not a red card. Feghouli unlucky. Both players flew in to the tackle. #MUFC now have a man advantage for 75+ minutes. #PLonNBC— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) January 2, 2017
It's not like they haven't got a second pair of eyes either. There have been numerous incidents this year where the linesman has been in plain sight of a tackle that requires a split second decision, but nothing is done. It's almost as if they're scared of the "larger than life" players around them when in reality, their one and only job is to maintain control of 22 individuals for 90 minutes.
Referee Bobby Madley was not moved, but #LCFC back Huth thought he gave #Boro a penalty | #PLonNBC https://t.co/EtamL7LSHc— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 2, 2017
So what if a tackle takes place 45 seconds into a match. It shouldn't be a case of “It's his first one" or “It's too early to give them a card". What a ridiculous statement. If you suffer a broken leg but it was within the first few minutes, should the person responsible not be given a straight red card?
It's baffling that we even have to pose these queries. This season in particular we were told referees would clamp down on diving and players using poor language, yet after the first week of fixtures it went back to the usual routine. It's like your New Year’s resolution — it was over before it even really began.
Now, to be fair, video technology is going a long way towards helping them out. Goal line technology has been a superb addition to the game, and more of this needs to be brought into matches in order to improve the quality of officiating. Hell, even stop the game for a few minutes if you need to go over a particular moment like in the NFL.
The important thing is that the correct decision is made. We wait all week for these matches, why have them ruined with one contentious decision just for the sake of keeping the game simple?
We also need more transparency. This would help both the general public and the referee. After the match, have the referee release a match report to the public indicating why exactly he or she made the decisions that they did. It's not good enough to see them run down the tunnel for fear of being attacked and never owning up to their actions, because the fans pay money to see consistency. If there's a problem, address it, fix it and move on. It can only help to humanize referees that we often see as less than human.
This isn't a lost cause. The game needs to adapt with the times. It’s fun to debate over the ref’s decisions, but it isn’t fun to have a match ruined for no particular reason.