November 30, 2010
You’d have thought that getting a dog’s abuse from fans, managers, pundits and the presses was part and parcel of being a football ref nowadays. It seems that the average ref can’t fart nowadays without having some fan or player berating him.
It’s difficult to not have some sympathy for Hamish McWhistleblower, not only are you forced to watch some of the worst football in Europe (and pay attention), you’ve also got to put with the likes of Neil Lennon, everyone’s favourite ginger mental case, screaming abuse at you as well. No doubt about it, the lot of the Scottish referee is an intolerably poor one. Throw in some lunatic religious conspiracy theories, rampant nationalism and a McCains factory full of chips for the average fan’s shoulder, and you get an idea as to how unpleasant Scottish football actually is. No, scratch that, because that actually applies to Scotland as a whole, not just the footballing parts (I’ve seen “Trainspotting,” I know what it’s like up there).
On a serious note though, it’s worth thinking about and I suppose we are forced to ask the question why this hasn’t happened sooner. I’ve always been of the opinion that refs need to stand up for themselves and although I’m generally not in favour of strike action per se, I would support it in this instance. While various football leagues throughout Europe have been quick to trumpet the “respect” agenda, there seems to be precious little of that available to our officials. It seems that you can’t watch an episode of “MOTD” without seeing some poor sap being accosted by a 6 foot scouser the size of a wardrobe screaming abuse at him, inches from his face.
Respect, of course, is a two way street. I’m under no illusions that refs need to up their games a bit. How would they do this? Again, it’s difficult, refereeing is about making big decisions on the spot, without the benefit of video replay. Until FIFA approve the use of video replays, I’m afraid we’re going to see this kind of industrial action more often.
Rest assured, that isn’t a good thing, even in Scotland.