‘Blaming refs part of our football culture’
This Indian football season has so far been dominated by heated talks on refereeing. Be it striking work in Kolkata or controversial decisions in the Federation Cup at Ludhiana, the men in black have been in the news for wrong reasons.
However, Madhav G. Suvarna feels if match officials are to be blamed, then so are the coaches, teams and club officials. “Clubs spending huge sums expect their teams to win every match. But that’s impossible. Whenever a team loses, the coach invariably blames the referee,” said the FIFA and AFC match commissioner and referees’ assessor, who is here to conduct the Cooper Test (a test for aspiring match officials).
“The coach can’t blame his players or himself for the defeat but finds an easy route and transfers the blame to the match officials,” said Suvarna at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
This, he felt, was due to lack of knowledge. “It is important for coaches and players to know the laws of the game. European clubs have a referee on their payroll to update the team about the latest amendments in rules but that’s hardly the case here. That’s why you see so much animosity towards match officials. They are the most unwanted people on the pitch.” With clubs reluctant to have even their own doctors, a referee on their payroll seems a little too futuristic at the moment.
“This has become part of our football culture. Referees do make mistakes, but then they are also human. What we have to ask is whether they are doing it deliberately. Contrary to popular belief, a referee’s performance is closely monitored and if a decision is found to have influenced a match, then the official gets sidelined for a while.
“Refereeing is a tough job. Those who become referees do so for the love of the game. The remuneration factor becomes secondary. They try to do a good job and in spite of that, get a lot of criticism. Their mistakes are getting highlighted much more than the team’s failure. If this trend continues, then people will not come forward to become referees,” says Suvarna, who thinks the standard of refereeing in India is higher than the football played.
"I think our referees are much better. As proof, one can see the number of foreign assignments they get.”