As the Scottish FA is currently desperately trying to either find cover for its fixtures at the weekend after the abuse suffered by referees there recently, it interesting that fans in England seem to have no more understanding for the men in the middle.
Referees do not have the benefit of replays from two or three angles played in slow-motion, and they have simulation to contend with.
It would be fascinating to see how long most people would last in a job where as soon as they turn up to work they are the butt of jokes and sneers. What about a position where everything was done right and the employee was still criticised by people who turned out to be mistaken? Then, when an innocent mistake is made personal violence was threatened and verbal abuse commonplace.
I am a fan myself, and I get frustrated and am sometimes mystified by decisions made, but I find it hard to believe that the referee goes out on the pitch with the idea in mind of spoiling the game. At present they seem to be performing an important role for fans of distracting them from other reasons why the team lost.
There are situations in a close game when the award of or the refusal to award a penalty seems to have ‘cost the game’, but if the whole game is examined there may well have been a number of good chances missed or saves made which were just as pertinent to the result.
My chief concern is that the unforgiving attitude of the fans to referees seems now to be transferring to players as well. A player who misses a chance is ridiculed on forums. How is that going to help his confidence for future games? Do fans believe that players don’t hear what is said about them?
Booing the team after a poor performance only serves to express discontent – it doesn’t help the players to perform better next time. I can’t believe that players go out to perform badly, or just don’t care either.
Referees and players who are abused are less likely to listen to constructive criticism. There is a chance that young players and refs who ‘aren’t tough enough’ who might otherwise learn and turn into good performers will be lost to the game.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.