Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interesting, yet misguided

So I was cruising Blogger the other day and purely by accident ran across In particular I got into reading "The European managers complain but refs have it easy", and found it interesting, informative in spots, but also misguided.

Of interest to me was the particular detail that the author cited percentages of issues. For example, "According to the results, 83 per cent of managers feel the handball law requires further clarification." I am particularly curious to see the source of this (and other) data cited. It was actually very interesting, even if not scientific.

The author does go into some good detail about this in a cursory analysis of what should, or should not be handling. I was particularly amused with the authors line regarding discerning intent and the "... gender of a goat." Trust me and read the article.

Where the author and I disagree is in regard to technology. He is a proponent, I am not. I think there are good points on both sides of the equation, I just happen to come down on the side of the human element deciding matches, not a NFL type review on even critical plays.

Where the author leaves his senses is here:

"Look, anything that gives advantage to the attacking team and good football should be encouraged. High level managers should be crying about the disallowed goals due to wrong offside calls from referees. Video technology should be employed for this and maybe even questionable offside decisions by referees should be punished. While I understand the speed of the game and the quick decisions they make, I distaste that with all my good heart. Managers and coaches also lose jobs because of those wrong decisions, the tactical mistakes they do and even the bad decisions players make.

Why should referees have it easy?"

He's kidding right? 

Assuming the paths to get to that level are equal, and I do not believe they are personally (as I think the number of correct decisions that are required to be made is much higher for a referee) it is more likely that a referee will not be given many "bites of the apple" at the higher (not highest) level before they are dismissed.

A manager, would really, really have to screw things up to get dismissed in a year. I can cite some MLS managers as examples ... 

A referee gets a very limited time in which to adjust at the higher levels. Let me share a personal story.

My first MLS match, I failed the assessment ... badly. I should have as well. I missed a wicked tackle that I gave only a caution for ... what should have been a straight send off. It was so bad that at the very next stoppage the manager substituted the player who committed the foul because he knew that I blew it, and anything close to a caution was going to get that player sent.

First MLS match a joyous occasion after in the locker room ... not so much.

It was clear, and I was told after ... adjust, or out you go.

This was reasonable to me as while there was some flexibility in getting acclimated to that level, no one referee is worth the "product" any league is selling. Certainly not a in a league that was struggling financially.

So I adjusted and had several more years in MLS with much better results. Learning along the way, but far smaller "teachable moments."

I have seen one and done referees, or a season and done referees. The "half life" of a referee is much shorter than that of managers, and is accelerated by not only incorrect, but also correct yet unpopular decisions.

Remember Esse Baharmast in the 1998 World Cup? Vilified for his penalty decision in Brasil v. Norway, even after the photo came out of a Brazil player with a fistful of jersey. How was his career impacted by that (correct) decision?

I have cited in the past, Koman Coulibaly, and how he remains in the "FIFA Witness Protection Program" to this day. Never seen since that match at any significant level.

While it is true that referees make decisions that can effect managers jobs, and we need to be sensitive to that, it is also true that referee's jobs are far more fragile on a match to match basis that anyone else who is involved in The Game. Player, General Manager, Manager ... no one.

The very best know that, and react accordingly to every challenge laid down before them.

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