Do Referees Hate Arsenal?
Do referees hate Arsenal? I don’t think so. Do they treat Arsenal unfavourably? A compelling case could be made for that considering how often we have stonewall penalties waved away and certain players are allowed to get away with running roughshod with the legs of our players.
So far Arsenal have managed to overcome poor refereeing decisions by simply just winning the game but it doesn’t hide the issue completely. There have been games where Arsenal have suffered dropped points or the opportunity of a different game by poor decisions.
For example, the loss to Manchester City may have had a completely different ending had the offside and penalty decision been correctly called. Had the first been called correctly then the course of the match changes, Arsenal don’t have the other decisions made incorrectly because they do not exist in that reality and by extension, City do not get many of their goals. Do Arsenal still lose? Probably but the point of endless possibilities means we can’t speculate. Arsenal could have won, drawn or lost even harder but those possibilities were taken away when the official made a bad call. What stings, is they made three of them.
Refereeing decisions, right and wrong, play a huge part in the reality the game follows and it would be wrong to ignore the fact that little decisions in our favour (rightly or wrongly) help decide the reality that sees us winning games and sitting on top of the league. However, it is not these little decisions that truly matter, it’s the big ones and it’s the big ones that the referees and officials are getting wrong more often than they get the right.
Against Chelsea, ignoring the straight-red-studs-up-leg-breaking-on-a-bad-day challenge on Arteta by Mikel and the numerous yellows Ramires should have had resulting in another sending off, Theo Walcott was denied a stonewall penalty. The referee has a clear line, no obstruction whatsoever and can undoubtedly see Willian take Theo’s legs out. There is no ball contact, it’s not a 50/50 challenge; it is a foul. If Mike Dean doesn’t think it is a foul then the only other option is simulation.
This decision cost Arsenal the opportunity to go a goal up. It was a big decision and one that Mike Dean refused to make.
Some argue that the referees are making the right decision by not making a decision at all. This is taken straight from FIFAs rulebook:
If a player attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (Simulation)
To deal with simulation the referee must know the difference between:
* a tackle (challenging for the ball and touching it) – no action
* a foul made by the defender – free kick or penalty kick and disciplinary action if needed
* a Simulation (attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled) – a yellow card
* a fall (no attempt to deceive the referee – no action
To understand what is a foul you need to consider the rules again and here they are:
Fouls and misconduct are penalised as follows:
DIRECT FREE KICK
A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following SIX offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
– kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
– trips or attempts to trip an opponent
– jumps at an opponent
– charges an opponent
– strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
– pushes an opponent
A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offences:
– tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball
– holds an opponent
– spits at an opponent
– handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
A direct free kick is taken from where the offence occurred.
A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above offences is committed by a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.
In the Chelsea example we have a player who is clearly kicking Theo Walcott. Penalty. You could call it a missed tackle but he has not touched the ball so therefore it is still a penalty. The ball is also still in play so therefore it is still a penalty.
The only other consideration is that Theo dived (which he didn’t) and therefore it is simulation and he should have been booked. There is no other option for the referee. Mike Dean has a clear view of the situation and can plainly see it is not a fall, that the tumble Theo took was due to a kick to the legs and no contact was made with the ball.
The only other explanation is that he believed Willian touched the ball which given his proximity to the foul and line of sight is bonkers. His bosses should be looking at that decision and his positioning and doing something about his poor judgement or lack of conviction in making a decision. If he has “covered” it up by writing in his report that he believed Willian got the ball then he should be removed from duty until his eyes have been checked.
Against Cardiff yesterday, Jack Wilshere was fouled in the box but no punishment was given to either player. He just waved play on. From the angle the ref is at he can clearly see the situation, if it’s not a foul then the only other scenario is that Jack threw himself to the floor, which is simulation – which is a card.
Surely by looking at the way these players are falling the referees can tell if it’s natural or forced. These are trained professionals who get paid to make the decisions they are shirking.
It doesn’t just happen to Arsenal, it happens to all teams and the reason is because referees in this country are not held accountable for their actions or inactions. The review committee do not do their jobs properly when it comes to potentially career ending tackles like Yaya’s on Arteta but will swiftly dish out a two game ban to a young player flipping the bird to 50’000 people who have been abusing him for 90 minutes.
Referees in this country are lazy and weak in my opinion. I appreciate that it must be hard dealing with up to 28 multimillionaires every week but it is weak to refuse to make the big decisions, it is weak to favour the home team because the fans are whistling and booing and it is weak to allow players to get away with several minor fouls because they are already on a yellow card.
Homeblowers are the purge of all away fans but what concerns me more is the shocking imbalance of referees home towns.
Of the 18 referees officiating in the Premier League only two of them are from the South East or South West (including South Wales) despite 9 of the 20 Premier League clubs being in the South East, South West or South Wales. The rest are from the Midlands, North East and North West.
I would like to see 3 or 4 of the South East, South West and Wales based referees currently in the Championship on the roster for the Premier League. I would like to see referees performances scrutinised the way player conduct is scrutinised.
When referees make such bad decisions maybe they should be allowed to speak to the media to explain what happened. We’d all have a lot more respect for the referee who publicly says “I cocked up and I’m sorry” because you know that in his next game he will be extra aware of making a mistake again.
The referee that doesn’t have to own up to his bad decisions can just go into the next game and do it again because he hasn’t had to hold himself accountable.
Maybe the answer is having more ex-players as referees. It might be hard to attract Premier League players who have earned millions of pounds but there are plenty of lower league players who might be tempted to stay in the game.
Do Arsenal get treated unfairly? Yes I think so but I don’t think we have exclusivity on poor referees, it happens to everyone and we just have to make sure it doesn’t affect our title bid.
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