Refereeing is not just in the moment

apaway Roar Guru

By apaway, apaway is a Roar Guru

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    Back in 1983, I was lucky enough to play in an exhibition match where the star of the show was the late great George Best. With about ten minutes to go, a ball was played over the top to Best, who was clearly offside, and was flagged so by the linesman. The referee, aware of who the crowd that night had come to see, let play continue and Best confronted the opposition keeper, flicked the ball over his head, ran round him and volleyed it into the net. The crowd left happy, thanks to a forward-thinking referee.

    Tonight, I watched as referee Ben Williams forgot to think about the responsibilities he has to one of the blockbuster games on the A-League calendar. Yet despite a terrible officiating performance from one of the most highly regarded officials in this country, Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar put on a game for the ages, one of the best matches in A-League history, especially in the first half.

    It must be galling for Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic to know that impulsive officiating cost his team the chance to end the Roar’s unbeaten run. Losing goalkeeper Ante Covic in the first minute to an admittedly deserved red card, and then going behind to the resultant Henrique penalty, the Victory rallied wonderfully. Archie Thompson was outstanding, as was Harry Kewell.

    The moment Matthew Foschini was ridiculously given a straight red card by Williams in the 33rd minute for a challenge that deserved a yellow and no more, the game changed from an explosive end-to-end thriller to a cat-and-mouse contest in which the Roar failed to find a way around, over or through a magnificently organised Victory defence. The recently maligned Durakovic deserves as much credit as his exhausted troops, for managing his second half structure and substitutions perfectly. After the game, he echoed the sentiments of many when he called the Foschini red card decision unacceptable, and commented that a 25,000 person crowd had turned up for a contest that was ultimately spoiled.

    The Brisbane Roar moved the ball as slickly as usual in the second half and the Victory had no choice but to defend deeply. In a way, they may have given future opponents of the Roar some ideas about how best to combat this phenomenon of the domestic game. However, the Roar were off their game at times tonight, though every credit needs to be given to the Victory nine for that. Sometimes, it is easier playing against eleven players because the mindset has not been decided by a circumstance beyond their control.

    What should be remembered is that the Victory attacked Brisbane prior to the second red card and looked every inch a likely winner as a result. The partnership of Kewell and Thompson threatened constantly. Perhaps the Roar can be undone by a speedy striker with a classy partner who has the vision to play the early and direct ball behind a pressing defence. All A-League strikers should hereforth be sent to sprint training and “parking the bus” shouldn’t be considered.

    All A-League referees meanwhile, should learn what that ref back in 1983 knew: the crowd comes to see the players.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • November 6th 2011 @ 4:35am
      Bondy said | November 6th 2011 @ 4:35am | ! Report

      I dont think most supporters appreciated Ben Williams smirking walking off at half time either it’s not funny Ben .
      Special mention for The Victory’s goal keeper Lawrence Thomas coming in under extraordinary circumstances on debut he did a great job .

      • November 6th 2011 @ 12:08pm
        Antonio said | November 6th 2011 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Yeah, coming out of the rooms for the second half Ben Williams was laughing with the roar players, what a true professional

    • November 6th 2011 @ 6:49am
      j binnie said | November 6th 2011 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      apaway -One word in your opening paragraph negated the message your article was trying to get across—“exhibition”. Last night was no exhibition match & it wasn’t only in the red card incident that the referee was negligent in his duties. There were numerous occasions where viewers, with the benefit of slow-mo replays, could see where wrong decisions were made.Also on TV, the pundits have been telling us that Brioch is the most fouled player in the HAL so surely it comes as no surprise when a ref. takes stern action,maybe a bit “over the top”, to a tackle on this man which, without the slow-mo, looked to be extremely crude.
      As I have passed comment on the game elsewhere I won’t go into detail but the lessons Roar can take from last night’s experience will stand them in good stead when they embark on their Asian Cup venture, & I have enough confidence in the Roar staff to think they will study,learn & correct from the experience, after all they already have the players in their pool to effect a remedy. jb

    • November 6th 2011 @ 8:00am
      Galaxy Hop said | November 6th 2011 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      In reference to your George Best anecdote–here I was thinking the crowd comes to see a game, which has rules.

      • November 6th 2011 @ 8:19am
        Ian Whitchurch said | November 6th 2011 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        Galaxy Hop,

        You’re completely wrong. Crowds come to games for a bunch of reasons. Some come to be entertained. Some come to see their team win. Some come as an opportunity to see friends.

        Given all that. knowing when to blow the whistle and when to let them play the game is the most important skill a referee can have.

    • November 6th 2011 @ 8:35am
      mice said | November 6th 2011 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      In the last two games I have been to in Melbourne. Heart v Sydney and Victory v Roar the referees have had a huge impact on the games.

      Whilst I don’t agree that clear offside decisions should be waived as in your example. I believe that good referees know when to be a bit lenient in order to let the game flow.

      Chris Beath in the Heart v Sydney game gave out 8 yellow cards in a game played in wet and slippery conditions and in a spirit that didn’t warrant that number of cards. He did not allow the game to flow and in turn entertain as it should have.

      Last night Ben Williams’ harsh decision with the second Red had a massive influence on the game.

      I love what The Roar have brought to the game and hope they go on to do well in Asia.
      Melbourne last night showed that they have the most passionate supporters in the land and some wonderfully talented individual players.

      • Roar Guru

        November 6th 2011 @ 10:02am
        apaway said | November 6th 2011 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        Maybe I’d better explain myself: I used the George Best example to highlight that a referee need not think only “in the moment” when it comes to giving a decision. Yes, that game was purely an exhibition, the score didn’t matter. However, the point is that a referee, just like a player or coach, can be damned by a snap decision, as Williams was last night. He had the card out of his pocket at the same time he was blowing his whistle. If he had blown the foul, taken Foschini aside, replayed the incident in his mind and given the defender a stern lecture and a yellow card, the game would not have been spoiled, the correct decision would have been rendered, and we might be talking about something even more remarkable post-game.

        • November 6th 2011 @ 10:56am
          mice said | November 6th 2011 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Yes I agree with your sentiment about your referees “in the moment” decisions. As a someone who has played, coached and refereed myself. I have always tried to think about the intent of the players when making a decision whilst refereeing.
          The referees chart makes reference to ‘If in the opinion of the referee’ a number of times. So the referee has discretion when making decisions. If the referee went to the letter of the law all the time, the game could become a farce. So yes I agree the occasion, entertainment and importance of the game should come into consideration.

        • November 6th 2011 @ 1:34pm
          Jupiter53 said | November 6th 2011 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

          I sympathise with your regret that Williams took the decision to send Foschini off.

          However it was a bad tackle with the potential to have seriously injured Broich.

          If you actually look at Law 12 “Fouls and Misconduct” you will see that a yellow card can be awarded for a number of reasons. The only ones that were potentially relevant to that tackle were “unsporting behaviour” or “persistent infringement of the laws of the game”. I think they are both of dubious relevance to the incident.

          “Serious foul play” and “violent conduct” [either of which I think is more relevant to that tackle] are both sending off offences, not cautionable offences.

          So if Foschini’s tackle was thought by Williams to be either “serious foul play” or “violent conduct” he had no choice but to expel him.

          Rather than blaming Williams you should be blaming Foschini for his error, and hoping that a promising player learns from it.

          For what it’s worth, I’m glad to see that serious foul play is being properly punished. I want to see skill rewarded and I want to see violent play [not skilfully strong play] eradicated from the A League.

          Well done, Ben Williams [and great work by the Victory nine to keep the Roar out].

    • November 6th 2011 @ 8:38am
      Roger said | November 6th 2011 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      I’ve read a few articles about this match/ref decision this morning, and can I say that in response to those people who claim that Ben Williams was “technically correct” showing a red – we need some consistency.

      Studs were shown in the challenge – true. Were they recklessly high or full of malice? No. Even in an EPL game, I reckon that 7 times out of 10 that would have been a yellow (especially given it was Foschini’s first offence).

      Now, in the A-League, we see week in week out studs shown in tackles, with many only resulting in a free kick, many resulting in a yellow, and some even being ignored.

      I can’t comment on all the games, but in the away games I have seen Melbourne Victory play, I reckon there has been at least 4 times where studs were shown on Melbourne players, with the refs showing little recognition of the foul/challenge.

      The referees can’t one week employ the “A-League brand” interpretation of fouls (which more or less downgrades all fouls one notch, allowing play to continue as much as possible), and then the next week employ a stricter interpretation of the rules (as we see in Europe and most of the world).

      If this is the first week of a new direction for the way A-League refs interpret fouls, and that we will now be more in step with Europe and the rest of the world – fine, I’m happy with that.

      But if we now continue with the A-League brand interpretation of fouls, the decision last night was very harsh and unjust.

      • November 6th 2011 @ 11:06am
        Clayts said | November 6th 2011 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        I totally agree that the refereeing in the A-League is ridiculous at times. It is completely substandard, but to suggest that there has been “at least 4 times where studs have been shown to Victory players..” is over the top. You could replace “Victory” in that sentence with any of the other 9 teams in the league, including (and most likely, especially) Brisbane.

        I am of the belief that a studs up, lunging challenge is at LEAST a yellow, and if is a callous, deliberate act, with no chance of winning the ball, a direct red. Were Victory a little harshly done by with Foschini getting sent off? Yes I believe so. However this is not the first time and certainly will not be the last time a Victory player lunges in with one of those challenges. The lesson to be learned, don’t dive in studs up.

        I totally agree that there is massive inconsistencies in refereeing in the A league. I have attended Victory’s home games and Heart”s home games and watched the rest of the league’s games on Fox and am continually amazed at the lack of consistency. However, I think that is just the standard we have got to deal with unfortunately.

        The thing that annoys me the most is the fact that you will see studs-up challenges get waved on, but in the next minute of play, a yellow card will be brandished for kicking the ball away or backchat or wasting time or taking the throw in from too far forward or some ridiculously technical reason! It is as if the A league are paranoid about being on the end of a ‘soft’ reputation in a country dominated by AFL and NRL, at the expense of actually refereeing the game properly and protecting players.

        I thought Leijer was even lucky to not receive a second yellow for a tug on a jumper just outside the box. That is another indiscretion that is waved on all to frequently. A deliberate tug on a jumper or pulling back of an opponent’s shoulder when they have gone past you is an automatic yellow as it is a cynical, professional foul. It doesn’t matter if the player being fouled goes down to ground or not, where it is on the pitch, or the fact the offending player has a card already.

        With regards to Foshcini, I do not accept the argument that it was “his first misdemeanor”. Should that even come into it? Is that in the rule book? That’s the same as saying, “Oh that’s not a foul because it was in the penalty area. If it was outside, it would be a free kick though.”

        All in all the refereeing standard needs to improve, but hopefully it will, just as the quality have football has in successive years of the A League.

        • November 7th 2011 @ 8:04am
          Roger said | November 7th 2011 @ 8:04am | ! Report

          “but to suggest that there has been โ€œat least 4 times where studs have been shown to Victory players..โ€ is over the top. You could replace โ€œVictoryโ€ in that sentence with any of the other 9 teams in the league, including (and most likely, especially) Brisbane.”

          Agreed, and you will note in the preceding sentence that I said “I can’t comment on all the games”, because I haven’t seen them.

          Also agree that showing studs is at least a yellow. But why, why, be so inconsistent about it? Yesterday afternoon I saw two far worse challenges of studs (I.e. high boots) smacking into the bodies of other players. In the 14th minute it was a GCU foul, and in the 19th minute it was a Sydney FC foul. Kung Fu kicking is far worse than a sliding tackle, yet we saw a free kick and a yellow resulting from the two fouls

          So exchange your comment on Foschini’s red card from ‘a little harsh’ to ‘way too harsh’, and I reckon we’re on the same page.

          In re to Leijer being lucky regarding the tug of the shirt, I thought Brisbane were lucky not to concede a free kick following the blatant foul on Kewelljust outside the box.

          In re to Foschini’s first misdemeanour, you know as well as I that the A-Leagur refs will give players a chance or two before showing cards. And again, if not, and they book them straight away, fine – but be consistent!!!!!!

    • November 6th 2011 @ 8:40am
      Hamish Alcorn said | November 6th 2011 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      What a foolishly argued blog.

      You’re basically saying that the ref should use discretion about the rules to please the crowd?

      There’s no question that in the range of fouls and red cards that we see, the second red was on the harsh side. But there is also no question that it was a lunging tackle with studs facing up (endangering Broich), and hence legally warranting a red.

      To scream, “bad ref” and not “stupid tackle” is just partisan shite. I hope this person isn’t being paid to write about football.

      When you lunge with studs up, you risk a red card. Blaming the ref afterward is very poor taste.

      • November 6th 2011 @ 9:26am
        Roger said | November 6th 2011 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Hamish – read my previous comment about consistency. Consistency is King.

        • November 6th 2011 @ 3:16pm
          Hamish Alcorn said | November 6th 2011 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          Consistency should be called for always, yes. And the A-League has a long history of relatively poor, relatively inconsistent refereeing.

          It doesn’t stop the fact that, from a coach’s or fan’s point of view, players who lunge with their studs up risk a red card every time. If they get away with it, or get a yellow, good on ’em. But you can’t suddenly blame the ref when he calls it.

          If anything I think every lunging studs up tackle should be called. This would improve the game a lot. Someone said there was a similar tackle on Kewell last night which was not called. I didn’t notice it, but if I was a Vic fan, that would piss me off for sure.

          But I’d still say the player was stupid for making the tackle. Especially as Broich was nowhere near the goal, it wasn’t particularly strategic, you were a man down and the ref had already shown he was a bit card happy. If I was a Vic fan I’d be pissed off with Foschini’s tackle too.

          As a Roar fan for the past six years I’ve felt on the wrong side of inconsistency many times, especially during Farina’s reign. Let’s agree that the A-League needs referee development, and indeed greater consistency.

          • November 7th 2011 @ 8:30am
            Roger said | November 7th 2011 @ 8:30am | ! Report

            Agree Foschini was stupid for making that sort of tackle, but it wasnt a red by A-League standards, and it was highly inconsistent with other decisions. Including decisions in the same match, where a Brisbane player mqdevthe exact same tackle on a Melbourne player. No yellow even, just a free kick.

            • November 7th 2011 @ 8:31am
              Roger said | November 7th 2011 @ 8:31am | ! Report

              * made the

      • November 6th 2011 @ 9:29am
        Qantas supports Australian Football said | November 6th 2011 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        HA, “it was a lunging tackle with studs facing up” Yes I have to agree and I think there was some contact as well.

        • November 6th 2011 @ 9:37am
          Roger said | November 6th 2011 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          ??? QsAF, I must admit I am perplexed by your viewpoint here. Yes, technically, it could have been a red. But again (as per my previous comment above), the decision was really out-of-step with the A-League brand of refereeing. You can’t let those things constantly slide, and then one week decide to employ a really strict interpretation of the rules.

          Consistency. It is King.

          • November 6th 2011 @ 9:42am
            Qantas supports Australian Football said | November 6th 2011 @ 9:42am | ! Report

            We are Queenslanders Rog… ๐Ÿ™‚

            • November 6th 2011 @ 9:43am
              Roger said | November 6th 2011 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              Right. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Roar Guru

        November 6th 2011 @ 8:51pm
        apaway said | November 6th 2011 @ 8:51pm | ! Report

        Given I’m not a supporter of either club (while remaining a fan of both – I mean, there’s a huge amount to like about both teams), I’m definitely not “partisan.”

        And no, I’m not saying a ref should use discretion to please the crowd. What I am saying is that discretion and not instant reaction might well have brought the right decision. And sorry, but I don’t agree that Foschini lunged “studs up”, he made contact with the top of Broich’s foot with the side of his own. Stupid tackle? Yes. Dangerous, deserving-of-straight-red-card tackle. I don’t think so.

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