Football

Swedish referee Mohammad Al-Hakim sets up Facebook page

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Football fans all over the world will undoubtedly have been left bemused by bizarre refereeing decisions that have seemingly gone against their side.

But now that could all be in the past, as a referee in Sweden is attempting to remove any element of confusion, by launching a Facebook page to explain the decisions he makes in matches.

Mohammad Al-Hakim, apparently one of the rising stars of the Swedish refereeing world, launched the page after admitting he should have awarded a penalty during a match between IFK Norrkoping and AIK in the Swedish top flight, Allsvenskan.

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Al-Hakim told local football site Fotbollskanalen: "The main idea is that I want to create interest (in refereeing) and I think the football family can gain from getting a better insight and understanding of a referee’s situation.

“I also want the page to inspire more people to become referees, which is an important part of football. I want to show my side of officiating and want to balance the picture (of referees) in the media. I want to increase the accessibility in the football family.”

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Al-Hakim has received largely positive feedback to the move, and has even received the backing of the Swedish refereeing committee despite many commentators voicing their concerns over the implications of his actions.

Could the referee Facebook tactic catch on?

It's certainly an interesting ploy, but whether or not the trend would catch on in England, or indeed any major European league, remains unlikely. However, just imagine for a second that we are in a bizarre future reality where referees did come out and explain their decisions.

On Saturday, this writer had the delight of watching Bolton Wanderers' season opener in The Championship against Derby County - a game in which Bolton's Jay Spearing was sent off for 'simulation' after he slipped when through on goal, and Derby striker Chris Martin got off without even so much of a warning for elbowing an opposing defender in the throat.

The out of his depth referee also missed a clear foul on young Bolton striker Zach Clough as he burst towards goal, only to then award Derby a free-kick for a mirror foul by Neil Danns a mere 30 seconds later.

If the referee had come out after the match and posted his thoughts on these incidents, and several others in the game, online it might have made the irritation fans felt towards his decision a bit easier to understand.

Of course, it could have the opposite effect and increase scrutiny on referees and lead to every decision made being put under the microscope - which would frankly take any remaining fun out of the sport.

As it is, we don't have this wonderful concept in our country - and we likely never will - so we will simply have to contend with questioning whether a referee is against our team when he disallows a goal or sends off a player for seemingly no reason. But maybe that's a good thing, because those controversial events are, deep down, part of the reason we love football in the first place.

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