Saturday, 7 December 2013

Can Football learn from Rugby?

It is a common fact that discipline and respect in football has gone down the drain in recent years. This is evident at every single level of football, from U7s grassroots football to the Premier League. Players and managers shouting abuse at the Match Officials is all part and parcel of the Beautiful Game we all know and love.
Rugby is famous for it’s zero tolerance of disrespect towards referees and touch judges. Referee’s wear microphones so that players and spectators can hear what they are saying, and this helps with respect as players know that whatever they say to the referee, everyone can hear them and they will get reprimanded for it off the field.
So should football referees wear microphones during matches?
This has been trialed once, referee David Elleray wore a mic during a match between Arsenal and Millwall in 1989. During this match however, Arsenal forgot to tell their players that the ref was mic’ed up – and Tony Adams went berserk at him when he didn’t award a goal.
He chased him up the pitch, then called him the name you must never call a ref. The abuse by Arsenal’s players that day meant that no ref has worn a mic during a match since then.
Rugby also have a Sin Bin. If a player receives a yellow card, he must leave the pitch for 10 minutes to cool down. This means that his team have ti play the next 10 minutes a man light, and when the player returns to the field, he is a little calmer than he was before.
Would this work in football?
I don’t think so. Players get yellow cards for all sorts of reasons, for as little as kicking the ball away or taking their shirts off when celebrating – and I think if they had to sit out for 10 minutes for something as minor as that, it would ruin the game.
What I think is a really good idea though, is the Report system that Rugby League referees use. What the Report system does, is that after the match the RFL (Rugby Football League) can review the incident and take retrospective action. This is often used if the referee or Touch Judges fail to see an incident clearly, but are aware than an incident took place. The player gets to stay on the pitch, but may receive a post match ban or a fine depending on the verdict of the RFL.

This would work in football, and it would help improve the consistency of referees and the punishments dished out. If the panel was randomly selected but had no bias, this could be a very good system – although I am sure some managers and fans would still protest and complain and some decisions made by the panel.