Sunday, 5 January 2014
Let's blame the nasty referee.
After suffering what he considered to be a couple of dodgy decisions in the recent match against Manchester City, Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers claimed that because referee Lee Mason lived in greater Manchester, he was unsuitable to officiate at a game between a Manchester club and a club from Liverpool. In other words, he believed that the mere fact of Mr Mason’s postcode prevented him from being professionally objective during a game of football. Rodgers compounded his pathetic slur during a press conference a few days later by having the audacity to state that:
"In terms of geography, I certainly wasn't questioning the integrity of referees. It was more than logical in terms of having a referee from that part of the world refereeing a game in Manchester. I was only speaking honestly after the game. I think the FA knows perfectly well I am someone who engages in supporting the referees."
Ah … that makes it so much clearer. Brendan Rodgers supports referees and doesn’t question their integrity. Except, that is, when he doesn’t support them and states that they can’t be trusted because of where they live.
I wonder what Mr Rodgers would think if a pundit had said before Liverpool’s game against Chelsea that: "I don't think Liverpool will really go for it against Chelsea this week, because Brendan Rodgers used to work there and he's basically still Jose Mourinho's apprentice." That would have been a stupid and insulting statement to make, just like his was a stupid and insulting statement to make.
That incident was bad enough, but the ‘spoiled brat’ bar has just been raised by Southampton, with their egregious complaint to the football authorities about referee Mark Clattenburg. They don't want him to referee any of their matches again because he 'insulted' one of their players. And what was the nature of this disgraceful insult?
When their player -Adam Lallana- challenged the referee over his refusal to award a penalty in the game against Everton, Clattenburg is believed to have said: "You're very different now you've played for England. You never used to be like this." I’m sure that poor Adam had never before heard such shocking language on the football field; I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the lad was being counselled after this truly horrifying incident.
A spokesman for Southampton claimed that it was not ‘appropriate’ for Mr Clattenburg to officiate in any of their matches until this matter had been ‘properly resolved’, because “Any official insulting any player, no matter his intentions, is clearly not acceptable behaviour”.
Anyone who watches football will know that, in the course of the average game, referees are routinely subjected to the foulest abuse, so it is depressing to realise that so many high-profile figures don't give any consideration to how their actions might impact on the culture of the sport. Those at the top have a responsibility to set a professional and respectful tone, so every time a manager or player bleats about being ‘cheated’ or ‘robbed’ or, in this case, ‘insulted’, he contributes just a little bit more to football’s moral decline.
I watch my 15-year old son playing every week and the lack of respect for officials, even at that level, looks to me like a cancer that is eating away at the heart of the game. I sometimes wish my boy had chosen another sport to pour so much of his time and energy into. I'm amazed that anyone would want to be a match official these days. Who would want to give up their free time to take abuse from belligerent idiots who don't even know the laws of the game?
So congratulations to Brendan Rodgers for his unique method of ‘supporting’ referees. And congratulations to Southampton for having joined the league for selfish pampered millionaires who cry when they don’t get their own way.
I’m sure they must feel like a proper ‘big’ club now.