After the World Cup and a few errors in some high-profile matches — the opening game for a start — Premier League referees will be under more pressure this year than ever before.
When Goal Line Technology was brought into the Premier League at the beginning of last year, we all thought some of the referee’s workload would be relieved; and it was, but now there are other things that are being scrutinized. It seems to be a never ending cycle.
Offside calls are the main thing being scrutinized. The laws have changed so much over the last three years that it is hard for people to keep up. For example, the law states that to be active, a player must touch the ball or challenge for it. But what happens when the attacking player is motionless but blocking the goalkeeper’s view?
That gives the attacker an unfair advantage, but he hasn’t touched the ball or challenged for it in any way. The referee could then disallow the goal for offside or give the goal and not give the offside. Either way, one of the teams are not going to be happy.
But the unfair pressure that is being heaped on referees will not make them better. Calling them out on every small mistake and highlighting it to the world will only be at the detriment of their confidence. As soon as that confidence level falls, more mistakes are made.
If your team’s key defender slips, letting their opponent through to score, and that helps lose your title chances, is he dropped for the next game? No. Is a referee or his assistant dropped if they make a mistake that leads to a goal. Yes — every time.
Stop putting the pressure on. When a player makes a mistake it is “part of the game” or it is excusable because “everyone makes mistakes”. Everyone, that is, other than the three men in the middle. Should they make a mistake, “they have to do better” and they get marked as having a “shocking performance”.
No pressure means more confidence and higher levels of confidence leads to better results. So next time you complain that the referee wrongfully gave a free-kick or penalty against your team, was he the same player you were calling useless on social media the week before? Mistakes are made, even by match officials.