Friday, September 10, 2010

Trials of the Professional Referee

I'm a referee supporter.  These are guys who get no respect and are only noticed when they make mistakes.  It boggles my mind why someone would put themselves in the "line of fire" of the criticism that is hurled their way.  This criticism is often gloriously ignorant.  That is... Unless the criticism isn't wrongly placed. 

Remember the Hand of Gaul goal last fall?  In the video below, Martin Hansson, the Swedish referee who missed the blatant handling by Thierry Henry that sent France through to the World Cup, is followed by a film crew as he prepares to qualify for the World Cup.  Although subsequent evidence appeared that vindicated that Hansson could not have seen the infraction, Hansson faced criticism from the entire footballing world and a multitude of death threats. 

The video is about 30 minutes long, but it's well worth your time.  It's a fascinating look at what makes a high level ref tick and the multitude of pressures he feels.

Some good may have come from the awful mistake, however.  Along with several controversial calls in the World Cup, FIFA has finally recognized that something may have to change.  Debate about goal line technology and replays has been at an all-time high.  UEFA has even added two extra goal-line referees to have more eyes on the action.  Let's hope the authorities continue to provide help the the men in the middle.

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