The news that Burnley striker Ashley Barnes would face no punishment for his tackle on Nemanja Matic this weekend comes as no surprise to fans. The officiating this season has been at times shocking, and the failure of the Football Association to take any action if the officials saw the incident has become a joke of a rule that the FA tend to hide behind.. Officials seem to be making several high profile mistakes, and the FA seems to not discipline their staff for poor performances, and even if the officials have missed something, the FA tend to not do anything to amend the mistakes that are made. Several incidents have taken place this season where officials have gotten things severely wrong.
- In the FA Cup tie between Arsenal and Middlesborough, Mike Dean booked Olivier Giroud after he had the goalkeeper had kicked the ball at him while he was running back. The referee may have thought the striker had blocked the ball, but the linesmen could have easily told him that was not the case. Had the referee just assumed that Giroud had blocked the keeper? If so, you can’t simply assume things if you did not see it. So the Frenchmen picked up one of the most bizarre bookings of the season.
- Liverpool beat Swansea convincingly at home back in December, but one of the main talking points was the actions of Raheem Sterling by the corner flag. After a coming together with Swans player Fernandez, the player raised his arms into the face of Fernandez, right in front of the linesmen. Although no malice was intended, by the laws of the game, raising your hands is a straight red. Nothing happened, which raised eyebrows across the land. The linesmen saw it happen right in front of him, so either he somehow missed it, or suddenly it’s not a red card. The FA took no action saying the officials saw it. Which begs the question, if they did, why was there no red card? Rather than leaving it to the refs to sort out the mess, the FA should have intervened.
- Wayne Routledge suffered a similar fate as Matic on New Years Day, in the match between Swansea and QPR. Karl Henry lunged into the Swansea attacker with a dangerous tackle. Routledge reacted angrily to the challenge and saw red. With Henry getting nothing. Although it is harsh to get sent off for a natural reaction, its the fact the referee failed to spot the wreckless challenge and punish the player for it. If players are getting away with dangerous tackles, and in turn, know if they get a reaction out of the opponent, it will mean trouble for them, it only encourages things.
These are just some of the awful officiating decisions made in a season where standards have dropped dramatically. It has gotten to a point where former referee’s head Kieth Hackett has publicly slammed the levels of the officials. At the end of the day, referee’s are only human, and mistakes can be made. It’s up to FA to shake things up. If a mistake is made by officials, the FA should take responsibility to correct it. If a ref has missed something, help them, retrospective action will not reduce the importance of officials, but improve any injustices that have somehow been created. Until the FA start taking the blame for poor officiating, it looks like the levels will not improve any time soon.