Time for reflection on the job of the ref

I was staggered to read that the number of fouls in the Premier League has reached its lowest point in the past 10 years, even with all the talk of diving and players cheating to win fouls.

So does this mean that refs aren’t giving out as many fouls that they should be, or simply that they are wise to the cheats? Or could it even be that the players themselves are not actually trying to con the officials as much as they are believed to?

Players such as Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez have come under a lot of criticism over the last year or so. Sometimes it does look like the player has tried to con the ref, but the figures announced show that even if these two players, and others, are taking dives or at least trying to con the ref, their fellow professionals aren’t.

Game in jeopardy?

Obviously, there should be a zero tolerance on diving, and if a ref gives a foul for a dive, he must then book the player he believed to have dove. There isn’t a place for diving in football anywhere around the world, and the figures show that arguably the best League in the world has reduced the number of fouls over the course of the season is a great highlight.

Premier League sides committed 8,562 fouls in 380 matches. That’s 22.5 per game. Sure, that does seem a lot, but when you actually think about a football game, and how many silly little fouls are given nowadays, the number is actually quite low. In my opinion, take out all the silly little fouls like a small tug on the shirt in a midfield tussle, then you could quite easily knock five or six off that figure.


The reputation of Luis Suarez precedes him

Personal approach

What’s great about this report, is that there is a comparison being made with the other top divisions in Europe. In Spain, La Liga has on average, 29 fouls per game; Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue One have 31 fouls each and the German Bundesliga has 32 fouls in an average game.

Even these figures were surprising to me. I’ve been a believer for a number of years now, that La Liga is notorious for referees giving fouls far too cheaply and players going down far too easily. However, the figures announced in this report create a sharp contrast of the impression that I was under. So I guess that kind of means I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to Spanish football right?

I mean, going by the figures announced by the Premier League, La Liga is the second “cleanest” of the reviewed Leagues.

I think it could well be down to the referee’s if I’m honest. Every fan all over the country is always calling for more consistency from the refs, me being one of them. However, the report also found that the number of red cards has even decreased.


Positives finally from the officials

So even though there is a lot of negative attention directed towards referee’s and some players, sometimes we just have to hold our hands up and actually say well done to the people calling the shots.

Thankfully though, the Scottish referees are not mentioned. But let’s not detract from what is an all-round moment of encouragement for refs.

Although the refs do have the occasional howler of a decision, with some people calling for red cards, and some just happy with a yellow, this report just goes to show that with regards to discipline on the park, the officials are doing ok.

Obviously, it doesn’t take into account the perspectives of the players, meaning that the number of fouls given compared with the number of fouls not given is not included, but this still can’t take away from some good news.

My closing statement is one which is fairly simple and has hopefully been clear throughout. The refs get a fair amount of stick for the job they do; from the fans, players, coaching staff and the media, but for once, the media have actually taken a step back and given the evidence to show that they are backing the referees in their job.

Hopefully, the people reading this will stop to think about how good a job a ref has done in a game, rather than trying to highlight every bad one.

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About Author

Blair Condie

I'm currently a student at Stirling University in Scotland, where I have just finished my third year for my degree in Sports and Journalism studies. I have an interest in a number of sports, including football, golf, tennis, rugby and American football.

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