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Your Verdict: Bent refs and Savage blows

Love him or loath him, one thing's for sure, there is certainly no avoiding him. Try it sometime, it just can't be done, I promise you.

Sauvé, talented, razor-tongued football visionary or tantrum throwing dish-it-out-but-can't-take-it-back merchant; call him what you will, Jose Mourinho - shame on those of you who thought I was talking about Anders Frisk - just doesn't care.

All he's interested in is winning trophies, and it matters not a jot to him how many people he upsets along the way. Which is just as well, because the line of people queuing up to have a pop at 'the special one' is starting to resemble the opening of a new Ikea in North London, but without the good natured banter.

Johan Cruyff, Ronaldinho, Sepp Blatter, the imperiously monikered referee's chief Volker Roth and Frank Rijkaard, to name just five, have had their feathers ruffled by the Chelsea boss in recent weeks. And now Anders Frisk has quit the game after death threats from a group of Chelsea - and probably Union Jack - tattooed numpties, which many perceive as being fuelled by Mourinho's inflamitory comments about Machiavellian under-handedness in the wake of Chelsea's defeat in the Nou Camp.

So, after charming everyone with his hawkish brand of self-confidence and breathing life into a moribund Premiership duopoly, has the Portuguese's crown slipped a little in the wake of these claims and counter claims? Is he really the 'enemy of football' or simply a man doing what he is paid (handsomely) to do; to wit, turn Chelsea into a European superpower?

Everyone's had their twopenneth worth but what do you, the little people, think about all this nonsense, eh? Here's what:


Your Verdict:

Mistakes made by referees could be reduced substantially if players were not continually trying to pressure (cheat) referees into making decisions in their favour.

So kicks off Ted from Brisbane, one of a host of referees who wrote in to lament the treatment they and their colleagues receive on football pitches from Queensland to Quebec.

If a referee had some confidence that when a player went sprawling in the penalty area that there was some probably that contact caused it, he could then make a valued judgement. But he can't do that, he has to also decide whether there is any histrionics associated with what he is looking at and whether there was any contact at all and now instead of one decision he has to make many and obviously, he picks the wrong one sometimes.

The Managers at the top level are equally to blame because they are perceived to support their players actions because if they didn't they would have stamped it out themselves way before now for unsporting behaviour. Clearly, the Managers have no problems with cheating either but when it doesn't give them the desired result, let's blame the referee and get the pressure of ourselves.

A common theme this one. Before officials are castigated, how about looking at the 'actions' of those they share a pitch with.

The most memorable in recent times was the diving incident in the World Cup in Japan when the referee cautioned Italy's Totti for diving in the penalty area and subsequently sent him off because of an earlier caution. Italian Officials cried foul but at the referee for robbing Italy not for Totti trying to cheat. He was even consoled by officials as he left the arena.

Poor old Totti. For those who have been able to see the individual incident, there is absolutely no doubt he tried to con the referee (cheat) to gain an unfair penalty on the biggest stage in the world. Allegedly one of the best players in the world felt he needed to cheat to win.

The saddest thing that happened from that incident was that the referee, who had the courage to do his job, was sent home and has never been seen again. FIFA decided to avoid controversy and have avoided using him again. A good referee gone, and a cheat continuing to reap millions out of the game.

If he and other players like him did not stoop to that level to win games and then have the unmitigated gall to confront referees with their foul mouth diatribe as they surround and intimidate him after almost every decision in most games, then we would be half the way to success.
Ted Kearney, Director of Referees Coaching, Brisbane, Australia

If only Ted, if only. And Jose will no doubt be quaking in his Matalan overcoat after David has his say.

Mourinho's post match comments were not said in the heat of the match or, indeed, his post-match interview, as he failed to show up for that. His comments were deliberate and thought out to deliver maximum advantage to his Chelsea side in the return leg hoping to prejudice the next match official to benefit his side. UEFA should take a strong stand against him and his side to prevent further damaging the integrity of the game.

Perhaps it is time that referees and associations take a harsher stand against dissent in the game. You don't see rugby refs putting up with the dissent that soccer refs do. I have played the game for 30 years and now ref myself and have always considered dissent to be a cheap caution but perhaps now is the time to change that lets hope that leagues clamp down on this abuse.

Why do two three or more players have to confront and argue with referees? Perhaps booking players immediately for dissent would quell this nasty problem.
David McGowan

Many of you pointed out the differences between football and other major sports. Michael Vaughan, the captain of England's cricket team, was finned his entire match-fee recently when he dared to suggest that the umpires had been 'inconsistent'. Ouch!

Football should follow the lead of many other sports where only the team captain is allowed to discuss or ask for explanations from the referee.

Any other players doing so are disciplined in varying forms according to the severity of their intimidation: cautioning, fining or even suspensions. It is this climate of players mobbing and physically intimidating referees that encourages others to do so. In a perfect world all players (and managers for that matter) would be gentlemen and not try to take advantage of a lone referee, but we live in reality.
Regards, Nelson Coelho

Sadly you're right Nelson. Someone pass the Gin...

As a now retired player, organiser and referee on a minor level, I feel the problem of discipline has to addressed - and aggressively. The laws of the game have been in existence for well over a century and now all of a sudden, in the last 10 years, or as long as the Premiership has been in the forefront of football, no one can seem to control a group of overpaid prima donnas who profess to be the best exponents of the sport.

Use the rule book as it's written - any abusive behaviour or foul language directed at either the referee or another player is cause for dismissal; end of story. Send a few of these actors off for an early bath a few times and the integrity of the game will be salvaged and we can all go back to enjoying the SPORT!
Bob Rogers

Perhaps Bob's right: zero tolerance. It worked in New York. But then again, we're not talking about degenerate street boozers and petty criminals here, we're talking about Premiership footb...oh, right you are.

The Frisk situation is a great example of what is happening to referees at all levels. There's a shortage of referees at all levels of the game because the spectators believe they have the right to use the referee as a target of their frustrations (including 12-year old referees of U8 recreational games). When you add the coach/manager behaviour into the mix many refs throw their hands in the air and say, 'it's not worth it.'

At the entry-level of the game, many young referees leave the game early after showing great promise. The unfulfilled potential leaves those responsible for developing referees to wonder 'what if.'

Hopefully, the latest set of circumstances will bring not only action in Europe, but around the world that will help protect the men and women who are willing to serve the game in a role that many won't.
Tim McCoy, Director of Member Services, PA West Soccer Association

I wouldn't hold your breath Tim, but there's always hope. Not everyone, however, channelled their rage towards the players and managers. Stand up Paul Atkinson.

FIFA and UEFA are totally responsible for the long standing problems associated with the quality of refereeing decisions in modern day football.

In an age where a single decision can cost a football club millions of dollars FIFA and UEFA place the responsibility on the head of a single shoulder.

Millions of dollars? No mention of trophies and championships at all?

Who is really responsible? I watch most sports and marvel at the new technology deployed to ensure fairness, reward and due penalty. Have you noticed how insignificant the 'judge' becomes when TV replays are shown? How comfortable the crowd become when proof is shown?

Only the football hierarchy decry the use of TV replays for decision making. Football is the only loser, betrayed by the very people appointed to protect all those who support and participate in it.

Please do not blame the words or actions of a single football manager or player. They are purely pawns in a much bigger game, governed by greedy, out of touch, do little, big talking bureaucrats.

Who are the real enemies of the game?

Go on, who?

FIFA and UEFA.
Paul Atkinson

Perhaps if referees did have access to the same multiple-angled slow motion replays that we, at home, do, there would be no problem. Perhaps.

I personally think that refs should be able to criticise referees if they wish, but also should be accountable for making statements proven to be false (meeting managers in rooms, etc). This is the basis for the democracy that we live in. Freedom of speech coupled with accountability.

Note to our North Korean readers: ignore the previous couple of sentences.

There should be no difference for footballers/managers/refs just because it's a sport. Constructive criticism helps the world (and sport) to self-regulate itself and encourages accountability and transparency in all aspects of life.

On a separate note, I think it's ironic that the print media (and others) are latching on to Mourinho. Have we forgotten that only last year the Sun newspaper ran what can only be called a hate campaign against Urs Meier after Euro 2004. What Mourinho did was a drop in the ocean compared to this.

Another valid point that cropped up a few times. The English media were very quick to stir up hatred towards Herr Meier after he had the temerity to chalk off Sol Campbell's 'goal' against Portugal, and now some of them are putting the knife into Jose. Double standards from our beloved tabloids, who'd have thought.

With all my heart I believe referees should be accorded the utmost regards and should not be threatened with death, as in Frisks' case.

I can sense a 'but' coming.

But referees should not be turned into gods all in the name of keeping mum over whatever decisions they make!! They should be also held accountable and subjected to an evaluation/vetting system. Many referees have been killjoys; especially with the offside rule.

I want a situation where video cameras and other relevant technologies are employed for sound decision making (I watched Juve's match last Sunday with Chievo and technology would have solved all these controversies). We don't have such complaints from rugby and FIFA should wake up now.
Jaytee

The final word is left to Steve Austin (if he's Stone Cold or a $6 million dollar man, he didn't say).

The question still remains: Did Frank Rijkaard go into the referee's dressing room at half time or not? I can't seem to get an answer to that.

Sorry, we can't give you one here either. But you're right, it is important in the whole debate.

If Rijkaard did go into Frisk's room it must have been to seek an unfair advantage or to influence the game. Any opposing manager would then have a cast-iron right to blow the whistle on that.

And, furthermore, as a Chelsea fan, I in no way abused or threatened or felt like doing so to Mr. Frisk. Anyone who goes to that extreme is a very dangerous individual indeed; a criminal.

Let the law deal with the criminals and stop Frisk from heaping his career of frustrations on Mourinho and Chelsea and let him tell us the details of Rijkaard's visit or non-visit to his room during the game.
Steve Austin

Come on then Frisk, come clean. Or Steve will put you in a headlock to end them all!


  • Men in Black or the Empire Strikes Back

    If Frisk took the easy way out and quit when the going got tough, he could perhaps have taken a leaf out Luiz Carlos Silva's book. Silva, refereeing the America - Atletico Mineiro derby last Sunday fought back when a shirtless loon broke from the crowd and attacked him. Several punches were landed and our man in the middle was unapologetic.

    'Everything I did yesterday, I did conscientiously and I would do it again,' Silva told Brazilian media on Monday. 'I had to defend myself and I did it by going onto the attack.'

    Your support was unequivocal and unanimous.

    I could not agree more with the referee in this matter and I hope and trust that the fan - or so called fan - will be banned for life from any football stadium in the world for this type of behaviour. Good on Mr Silva, he most certainly has my support behind him.
    Michael J Wareham, Milton, Ontario, Canada

    Referee Silva was right to defend himself from attack by a fan during a game. How did security personnel allow this fan onto the field? Shame on them.

    Good for the ref. If security can't look after refs and players it's left to themselves. Good on you ref.
    Carys and Stuart


  • There's no place like home

    Jose Antonio Reyes' future at Arsenal was put in doubt recently after a prank call from a Spanish radio station coerced him into admitting he was home sick and would like to be receiving through balls from Thomas Gravesen next season rather than Cesc Fabregas. And his agent let slip that discussions had started over just how to price up the Spanish youngster (I suggest including a free DVD or poster of some woman off of HollyOakes to make him more attractive to potential buyers).

    Latest rumour involves a swap deal with little Mickey Owen. What do you think of that, Gooners?

    I've been an Arsenal fan for a long, long time and have particularly enjoyed their success in recent seasons. Reyes has been a small part of that and could continue to contribute in the future. However, if his heart is in Spain, so be it. There are plenty of equally talented players around the globe and Wenger has done an excellent job in finding them.

    Frankly, I'd like to see more English players come through - at Arsenal and elsewhere in the league. Otherwise, our national team will ultimately suffer. As much as I enjoy watching Henry, Pires and all the other stars, I would love to see more Englishmen on the pitch.

    Does that really matter? Apparently so.

    Come on, Arsene, more English players, please. How about Reyes for Owen for starters? Not exactly like for like, but a good trade, I'd say.
    Norman Doree

    I'll be one happy Arsenal fan when they sell Reyes

    The last few matches he has frustrated me. Arsenal's slick attacking play almost stops to an abrupt halt when he receives the ball. There have been many times when Arsenal lose possession as a result of Reyes attempting to do his fancy footwork from a stationary position; very frustrating. What is probably more frustrating is that he is capable of scoring important and spectacular goals - but this has now become rare. Adios Reyes!

    Crikey, they have the highest of expectations down at Highbury, don't they?

    He is a great player but I am not convinced that his best attributes and positional play in the team are really what Arsenal need. We are left-side over-loaded now. I also believe the physical side of the Premier League doesn't suit him, notably his attitude to the treatment he received in the Man Utd game.

    Obviously referees [them again, ggrrrrr!] could do more to help restrict the deliberate niggling fouls he seems to receive, but ultimately players have to 'slug it out' to earn the respect.

    The fact that he appears to be homesick really forces the manager's hand and I believe he will depart to Madrid.
    Tony Green


  • And finally...the long and winding road

    Newcastle fans are going to have to get up at some ungodly hour thanks to The FA's decision to play both FA Cup semi-finals at the Millennium Stadium (Cardiff) - the two United's kicking-off at 12:30 on the Sunday! Still, it'll be worth it if Shearer gets another shot at the final, at the Millennium Stadium (Cardiff).

    I have to say I agree with the sentiment expressed by Wilf McGuiness regarding the playing of our [Manchester United's] semi final-tie with Newcastle in Cardiff. Elland Road is a good venue for this and easy for both sets of fans to get to.

    Of course, the FA don't care about the fans, all they care about is money. It's no different than building the new Wembley in London when it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that our National Stadium should be in The Midlands, somewhere near the NEC.

    Cheaper to build there, easier for fans from all over England to get there and it would also ensure England get representative support from ALL their fans for Internationals. But then again, who really cares what we fans think? Not the FA, that's for sure.
    Dave Kinnaird

    Robbie Savage will be there on the Sunday with Blackburn but his visits to the Millennium Stadium (Cardiff) in future have been slashed with the news that he is quitting international football - a mere 30 minutes after he was told that he wasn't going to be picked again!

    Just for once Savage is right. He is the most obnoxious and arrogant person but as a player he always gives 100% and that is all that he should be judged on when being selected. I fear that Toshack is well past his 'sell by date'.
    Sam Lucas

    Not everyone was in such forgiving a mood. Take Bob Eaton's email - but prepare to have your side split asunder if you do.

    Have you heard that they are bringing out a new Robbie Savage doll?

    When you drop it, it cries!!!!!!
    Bob Eaton

    Good effort Bob. We at the Soccernet offices all love a laugh. Speaking of which; some of you loved it, some of you hated it (and a few just didn't get it) but Alex Sharratt's guide to being a Premiership manager prompted you to write in your droves. More of the same/sack this fool pretty much covers them all. All, that is, except this choice message. Be afraid, Alex, be very afra...

    Well, what a breath of fresh air. Finally someone looking to cut the crud spouted by all managers in all leagues in all countries. Boo-hoo, I can't afford a £17m striker. Get over it; I can't afford that Mercedes SLK so I make do with what I have to the best of my ability.

    All very innocuous so far, but wait, there's more.

    Well done Ms [?!?] Sharratt, an excellent piece of writing. I'd like to take you out on a date sometime to discuss a horizontal workout commonly used by most young Premiership stars.
    Nick Passmore

    I'll certainly pass on your request Nick, but I'm not sure that it's really Alexander's thing. Oh dear...