Where is Referee Accountability?

By Matt LeCameron
Last updated : 24 October 2011

However, that almost never happens. Referees are at the forefront of too many post-match discussions because there are too many poor decisions made.

Using Phil Dowd’s mistake on Saturday as an example, when he wrongly red-carded Chris Herd, it has become apparent that referees can influence games too easily (and, all too often, wrongly) without ever having to take any responsibility for the mess that they cause.

For example, Saturday’s game could have been very different if Villa had retained a full squad. As it happened, Villa never got back into the game and Phil Dowd went about his business as usual. He may well have a meeting with the referees governing body, but when Saturday comes he will be out there again as an official.

In a previous article, I raised the possibility of a Wimbledon-style challenge system. But it seems that no such thing is on the horizon. If Villa had challenged that decision, Chris Herd would have stayed on the pitch and the linesman would have looked a fool.

Without having the actual figures, it can be assumed that match officials earn a considerable amount for their trade. So, if they are able to accept the rewards, why are they not made to take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable for mistakes. Like the managers, the referees should be made to conduct an interview after the game and explain any controversial decisions. They should also be made to apologise to the team that has been disadvantaged by the decision.

This course of action is unlikely to happen because the interviews would be too long and too frequent. The ‘untouchable’ status of referees is completely unfair, and they are allowed to walk away from their mistakes without any consequence. The same applies to the attention-grabbing linesmen, like the one that influenced Phil Dowd without even having a clear view of the incident. The letter of the law states that referees should be completely certain of such decisions, but once again Mr Dowd threw the rule book out of the window and walked away merrily.

There are many things that are ruining the modern game, and allowing a key part of it to be beyond criticism is a disgrace.

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