Thu Oct 27 10:53:40 CAT 2016

FERGIE's rant at ref was offside

By John Leicester | Oct 22, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

MANCHESTER United boss Alex Ferguson stepped way, way out of line in accusing Premier League referee Alan Wiley of being unfit.

MANCHESTER United boss Alex Ferguson stepped way, way out of line in accusing Premier League referee Alan Wiley of being unfit.

In other workplaces, such abuse would be unacceptable - akin to yelling across the office that a colleague is a fat fool.

Pushed to extremes, such disrespect for those who do their best to officiate football but will never be as infallible as robots leads to referees quitting the game in droves.

At worst, it leads to the horrors inflicted on match officials such as He Zhibiao in China and Prakong Sukguamala in Thailand.

Prakong reportedly needed 50 stitches and broke a finger last year after an entire team, Kuiburi FC, punched and kicked him for sending off three players in a match to decide promotion to Thailand's second division. Police fired warning shots to disperse the mob, reports said.

Only sprinting like a gazelle saved He from an almost certain beating after he red-carded three players in a chaotic July 26 playoff between the cities of Beijing and Tianjin.

Tianjin player Zhao Shitong, who chased the referee across half the field before pushing him to the ground, was subsequently banned for life.

Ferguson can't be blamed for such hooliganism, especially in Asian leagues with a history of match-fixing and official corruption.

But as the world's most famous working football manager, his words and actions echo across the globe.

Like it or not, he and other managers in football's top tiers are role models. They hurt football with their constant gripes about on-field decisions that go against them, perpetuating the poisonous notion of referees as incompetent whipping-boys at best, enemies at worst. And it is not just Ferguson, though he is the undisputed master of this dark art.

On August 16 Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, asked about the officiating in a 2-1 loss to Tottenham, removed his glasses from his pocket and pointed to them. The clear message: referee Phil Dowd is blind.

On August 29 Alan Pardew of Southampton, now struggling in League One after dropping out of England's top two flights, says referee Carl Boyeson "robbed us".

"I'm struggling to remember a referee who is as bad as him," said the former Reading, West Ham and Charlton boss. "I feel as sick as I've felt as a football manager."

On June 24 Hull manager Phil Brown was fined for describing referee Mike Riley's performance as "disgraceful" in a 2-1 FA Cup loss to Arsenal. "We've not been beaten by Arsenal - we've been beaten by the referee and the linesman," he said.

To imagine that such incessant attacks on the integrity and competence of match officials doesn't trickle down to the lower levels of the game is naive. What fans see on television on Saturday is often repeated in their own matches.

Last year, in launching a campaign to root out unacceptable behaviour, the Football Association said 7000 referees in England quit football every year because of abuse from players and the sidelines. There's been progress but more is needed.

Serious assaults on referees declined by 10percent last season but more than 500 still reported being subject to physical abuse.

"Football reflects society," says Dermot Collins, who manages the Respect campaign.

"Somehow we got to the point where players felt they had the right to offer a running commentary right through the game." - Sapa-AP


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