Media, Scottish Football, Sevco, SFA

Reffing and Blinding

Good Afternoon (and please vote ‘Clumpany’ by 30 October! I promise that the end IS in sight…)

Boy does the Nathan Oduwa brutal tackle incident ‘have legs’. 

Which is ironic really. Because if you read the relentless coverage since it happened ON TUESDAY you would be forgiven for concluding that Odowu was left without legs following THAT challenge FROM Kieran Gibbons in the Sevco-Livi game.

We’ve had The Warbmeister calling for ‘protection’ for ‘flair players’ such as Oduwa (but definitely NOT special treatment, oh no…).

We’ve had Livi manager Mark Burchill acknowledge it was a bad tackle that would have got a red card on another day.

We’ve had Mark Burchill apologising for his clumsy defence of the player.

We’ve had a newspaper debating whether Sevco supporters should accept the apology [no you didn’t misread that…].

We’ve had a plethora of stories about how Oduwa will overcome the ‘adversity’ of teams not simply standing back and letting him run rings round them on the pitch.

Astonishingly, we had Barry Ferguson ‘writing’ an interesting column about the harsh ‘character-building’ treatment he received as a young player.

We’ve even had Oduwa (who the Evening Shark-Jump seems to believe is called ‘Starlet’) reassuring everyone he is OK and proclaiming himself to be one of ‘The People’. Which I am sure will be noticed as a fantastic addition to his game when he finally returns to Spurs!

But possibly the most curious piece in this saga is today’s offering from Gary Ralston in the Daily Record:

Gary Ralston: Halfwit dads down the park must stop bullying our referees.. kids have been taught it’s ok to abuse whistlers

The piece is essentially a straightforward and sensible one about the appalling abuse some referees receive in grassroots football, and how this is deterring people from ‘taking up the whistle’. It also notes a succession of frustrating howlers made by referees in the senior game this season.

Well said Gary. These are good points that we should all take on board.

However… I simply cannot understand why the Oduwa incident is shoehorned into the piece. Let’s take a look at the key relevant points…

“THE decision of Andrew Dallas not to act against Kieran Gibbons at Ibrox in midweek was almost as bad as the tackle on Nathan Oduwa itself.

It was a shocker. And you’re to blame.”

Yes YOU the Record-reading ordinary punter..

“The next time you’re at your boy’s game (and this is exclusively a male issue) look at the matches being played around him and count the number of referees below the age of 30. It won’t take long.”

“Well, would you place your son in an environment in which he is regularly bullied, verbally abused and, on occasions, even physically threatened or assaulted?”

“Scottish referees, just like our players, have to come from somewhere – and the current crop have made some absolute howlers this season.”

“However, the real surprise isn’t that Dallas failed to send off Gibbons against Rangers. The real surprise is the SFA were able to supply a referee for the game in the first place.”

What?! Gibbons wasn’t sent off because we have duff referees – who are all the SFA can recruit? And this is a result of too few people wanting to do the job owing to the abuse they would receive?

It’s a bit of a tenuous point Gary. It is almost as if the Oduwa incident has been levered in to a pre-written piece in order to make it topical. 😉

I don’t doubt that abuse is a deterrent to some people becoming referees. And abuse is of course unacceptable.

However, in the case of the Oduwa/Gibbons incident – as with the other referring howlers mentioned by Gary – surely the main issue is why the SFA keep allowing these folk to make such epic blunders? 

Where is the training? Where are the sanctions when they get it wrong? Hell, where are the acknowledgements and explanations when refereeing mistakes are made?

We apparently have some good referees in Scotland. FIFA and UEFA allow them to officiate their games. And yet those same referees seem to repeatedly make major errors in domestic games. 

Without explanation, sanction, or retraining.

Gary is right about problems with the pool of referees, and he is right that the abuse is probably off-putting to some talented people. 

But you can’t blame that for Andrew Dallas and a host of other top referees making huge blunders with troubling frequency. 

Blunders which go beyond occasional understandable ‘human errors’.

Parents refraining from pitchside abuse in grassroots football a few years ago would not have resulted in Andrew Dallas making the correct decision to send off Kieran Gibbons last Tuesday. 

Better training and accountability for referees on the SFA’s watch might have done.


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