Football411's very own qualified referee Gary Freeman has responded to Ryan Gordon's piece entitled: Refereeing 'a joke' in the PSL
Gordon has questioned 'the standard of refereeing in the Premier Soccer League following more contentious displays from the men in the middle', with Freeman weighing in to the argument:
It is hardly surprising that, once again, the referees and assistant referees (linesmen to you and me) are the target of ridicule.
Since football began, the men in black have been the soft target often accused of costing teams results. Ninety-nine per cent of players will cheat given the opportunity.
I'm not talking about taking a dive in the penalty area (although this is part of it) but over every decision that the referee has to make. For example, how often do you see a player appealing for a throw in when he knows full well that the throw should go to the opposition?
This may not be as crucial as awarding a penalty kick but it is still cheating.
At corners, the opposing teams hold and push each other so much that it looks more like an episode of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Players, managers and coaches often remark that "its all part of the game" - but it isn't. The laws clearly state that this is not acceptable.
In the PSL the players earn their living from playing football and yet if you were to conduct a straw pole amongst them, asking how many laws of the game there are, I would bet that less than 10% would get it right.
Some of the laws of the game are contentious but that's another argument. Referees are there to ensure that the laws are applied and the only person's opinion that counts is the referees.
Spectators, coaches and substitutes see the game from a fixed position and, therefore, can often have difficulty in seeing what goes on in certain areas of the pitch.
Refereeing is all about finding the right angles to give the best opportunity of seeing as much as possible at all times.
Without the benefit of instant replays, the referee must make an almost instant decision. If you've never refereed a match I suggest you go out and try to, and I'll guarantee that you'll miss something or be unsure as to what decision to make several times during the 90 minutes.
Referees don't care what the result is. They only care that the game is played within the spirit of the laws of the game.
The hardest thing for players to accept is that the referee may make a mistake, but he is never wrong.
Have you ever known a referee to change his mind because a player or coach or manager argues with him? No, neither have I.
We referees love football as much as anybody and it is a sad fact of life that, worldwide, there is a shortage of referees to officiate at the lower levels of the game.
In my Referees Society back in the UK, for every 20 who qualified pre-season there were less than half-a-dozen still turning out by the end of the year.
The main reason being that they simply wouldn't or couldn't handle the constant abuse from players and managers.
Referees don't cost teams matches, players do. By acting like petulant five-year-olds and getting themselves suspended they diminish their own team's chances of success.
The best games I have officiated at are the ones when I've had very little to do. Players will come up after and congratulate me on my control of the match without realising that they were the ones responsible because they played within the spirit of the game.
Leave our referees alone. They are already an endangered species and constant complaining isn't going to resolve the issues.
Believe it or not, referees are human and prone to the odd mistake, but it is always an honest mistake.
Perhaps the PSL should insist that all players must qualify as referees in order to play. I've no doubt that this would reduce the complaining.
Football is all about opinion, but the only opinion that counts is the referee's.
By Gary Freeman
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