European referees need to clamp down on dissent

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Football News

During the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, Doncaster Rovers' South African midfielder Dean Furman was booked twice in three games for dissent.

On both occasions, Furman was not guilty of anything that he probably would not get away with every week in the Championship.

Referees in Africa tend to be of a lower quality than their counterparts in the big European leagues; but at least they remember that putting pressure on them by bad-mouthing their decisions is supposed to be a yellow card offence.

This is certainly not a punishment fit for throwing your boot at a linesman, despite Atletico Madrid midfielder Arda Turan escaping with nothing more during his team's Copa del Rey quarter-final against Barcelona.

Surrounding the referee

After losing 2-1 to Chelsea in October, then Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock correctly accused Blues players of putting pressure on referee Craig Pawson to show Damien Delaney a red card.

Of course, Chelsea are far from the only culprits of this offence. Indeed, Warnock's players did exactly the same thing in the same match to get Cesar Azpilicueta sent off.

Sadly, one would struggle to find a single match in the European big leagues in which there is no hounding of officials - or, indeed, a high number of instances in which players are actually punished for it.

Petty power

It also seems that more and more frequently; players are committing petty offences - which they are hardly ever called out for.

Placing the ball outside the semi-circle before a corner kick, taking throw-ins five yards from where the ball actually went out of play and creeping past the magic spray before free kicks are taken are examples of such behaviour.

This all may seem arbitrary; but as long as players believe that they can get away with disregarding the laws of the game on a small scale, there will be no end to bullying of officials.

Shaming the sport

In a rugby union match between Munster and Bennetton Treviso, referee Nigel Owens handled dissent from Treviso scrum-half Tobie Botes by reminding him that the game he was playing was "not soccer".

Such comments make football fans around the world cringe and match officials have a responsibility to uphold the game's reputation.

Referees in football's most-viewed leagues have to restore the image of the sport with integrity and conviction.

They must prove once more to players that they are not to be messed with. If they have to book entire teams who break the rules all at once, so be it.

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Crystal Palace
Neil Warnock

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