After the Porto game Le Boss launched an uncharacteristically scathing attack on the referee. Normally I wouldn’t associate the word scathing with anything Arsene says. By now you must have heard/read the interview in which the boss thinks Hansson is either incompetent or dishonest. If not you can read it here. Pretty strong words indeed.
Many in the media ignored the depth of thought in these comments because they couldn’t dissociate themselves from the win/loss aspect of the game. Wenger is an extremely objective man and these comments are no different. Later on Arsene specifically pointed out the technical mistakes by the official. If you haven’t read those you can see them here.
Frankly, I don’t know much about these technicalities and was hoping someone in the media will actually get to the facts but no one seems to care.
Over the last few years, while watching European competitions, I get a feeling that referees are impotent idiots. It must not be easy for UEFA because these men come from different countries and have a different interpretation of the law. I see a lot of the English league and a little bit of Spanish and Italian. Even in each of these top leagues I see a unique approach from the refs. So an English ref might allow a physical tackle while a Spanish one might send someone off for the same thing! How does UEFA bring parity and consistency? It’s a complex task overshadowed only by their monumental botch up.
As Arsene pointed out, there are two aspects to a referee’s decision making, judgmental and technical. Wenger said he does not have a problem with judgmental mistakes like the Rosicky penalty but the ref made serious technical mistakes. I am not qualified to comment on the technical mistakes but if he did then that’s just one big aspect of the problem.
As a fan, I am more concerned with the judgmental aspect of refereeing. Over the last few years I think UEFA has given the ref’s a thumb rule, “When in doubt let the game flow!” or I could rephrase it as, “Avoid judgment calls to the extent possible!”
Judgmental decisions can lead to various game changing moments like penalties, red cards, bookings, etc. If these decisions are given and prove to be wrong, there is a huge furore and people tend to remember them. On the other hand, if they are not given, the issue is normally forgotten within a week.
How many people remember clear penalties that were not given or obvious red cards that were not given? On the other hand if they are given incorrectly the mess is difficult to manage because they have a direct impact in the form of a goal or result of the game. Sometimes, like the Henry handball incident, a judgment call not given can also lead to a goal but that is rare.
If you look at the Chelsea- Barca semi-final, or if you look at our game against Porto, or the Bayern -Fiorentina game, or the Milan-United game, there are many instances where the ref has simply avoided a difficult judgment call and let the game flow. In fact you can see this in pretty much any game.
In direct contrast, referees are keen to impose stupid technicalities. For instance, Michael Carrick was sent off for rolling the ball not more than two yards. The amount of time wasted by that dismissal and Carrick walking off was lot more than the time that was wasted by the ball moving two yards! It’s not that I was not delighted by a Red Card for a Manc, but that does not change the stupidity of the whole thing.
We see people not getting sent off or booked even though they keep kicking someone like Cesc all day long. It’s a judgment call and ref’s are keen to avoid them. This is also the reason why we don’t get a lot of penalties.
It’s easy for the ref to make a judgment call somewhere on the ground and give a foul. Most of the time they don’t book the players and thus damage to either side is minimized. It’s like a lame compromise. By the same logic, if a ref makes a judgment call inside the box he might be forced to give a penalty as well as take action on the defender which could be a double blow for the defending team, especially if the man in charge gets it wrong.
I don’t think this is down to one or two individuals. It seems to me that UEFA has trained all it’s referees to be impotent and they are harming the integrity of their tournaments. Add to it the technical problems that Arsene has pointed out and we have a refereeing system that is literally good for nothing and in need of a serious overhaul.