Monday, April 18, 2011

Deterioration of Refereeing System

The English game is truly deteriorating, as far as the quality of referee is concern.

Arsenal hosted Liverpool at the Emirates last night, and it was a pain to watch especially towards the end. All I can say is that both teams suck big time. Arsenal players were better. They were able to dominate the midfield, but they lacked the crucial finishing that could turn chances to goals. Chances after chances were wasted, Bentner was straying way beyond his area of expertise, and there was only Van Persie spearing up front.

Liverpool, on the other hand, were a shadow of the team that won at Manchester last week. There was no build up to their plays, and it was a performance so awful they had to rely on their keeper to save them a point. It seemed like the game was going to end in a draw. Yet no one was truly prepared for what was about to come.

The signboard was raised on the 90th minute to signal the addition of eight minutes of playing time. Arsenal didn't give up, but Liverpool was preparing for a draw. And all of sudden, Arsenal's midfield maestro Fabregas sped into the box, made a one-two pass with Samir Nasri, and collapsed under the challenge from Jay Spearing. The Emirates roared in unison as the referee correctly dealt with it. Van Persie stepped up and sent Reina the wrong way. Great. And it was 96th minute. A legal goal I should say.

So I was expecting the referee to blow the final whistle as soon as the game restarted. He didn't. He allowed the play to continue until Liverpool won a penalty on the 111th minute. Legal? Lucky for Liverpool and their bullish manager Kenny Dalglish, who refuses to admit that Manchester United is going to "knock them off their perch" soon, that they got a draw at the Emirates.

This is the quality of people refereeing the game in England. Mind you it claims to be the best league in the world. With that kind of referee.

What's worst is that last night was not the first time we've seen referees making horrible decisions in the premier league.

During the game between Sunderland and Liverpool on the 20th March 2011, a penalty was awarded to Liverpool, although the challenge was made outside the box. What's more, the referee made a second mistake by bringing play back after initially waved play-on.

On 6th March 2011, Liverpool hosted Manchester United and won the game with the referee's favor. Carragher's challenge on Nani would have got him sent off any other days, but not against their bitter rival. Jonny Evans got sent off against Bolton on 19th March 2011 for an even softer challenge (50-50 ball). David Luiz halted Rooney in his path and escaped unnoticed in the match between Chelsea and Manchester United on 1st March 2011. The referee then awarded a soft penalty against the Red Devil.

Controversial those may seem, but not this one; in the Champions' League match against Barcelona on 8th March 2011, Robin Van Persie was sent off for kicking the ball after the referee signaled offside.
England cried foul over a disallowed goal in the game against Germany in World Cup 2010. Ironically, they grew up playing in games where injustice blossoms, and their domestic league breeds lousy referees. Graham Poll infamously booked a player three times before sending him off. Referee Howard Webb didn't send Nigel De Jong off for a dangerous chest-high-rib-breaking challenge on Xabi Alonso. Notice a pattern? They're all English.

If England wish to improve their chances on the international stage, they have to first improve the quality of their referees. The English game is brutal and ludicrously physical. We all know that. So it wouldn't surprise me if an English referee is a bit lenient over challenges deemed illegal elsewhere. But making lousy decisions such as awarding EXTRA-extra time or bringing play-back after initially waving play-on are just unacceptable.
If this goes on unchecked, clubs could lose their competitiveness in Europe, or worst case scenario, losing the audience that had funded the BPL thus far.


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