Aki Riihilahti - Viralliset kotisivut In English Suomeksi På norsk
Uutiset Kysymykset Fakta Historia Kuvat Special


Takaisin uutisiin

It is always idiots fault

Idiot, wanker, d*#khead… we call him with many names. We feel that we are entitled to that and we might even like it. Because we don’t like him. We just can’t. It is like an unwritten rule. He is the one to blame. Sometimes he even gets dead threats. Often stones or coins thrown at him. Obviously on top of all the vicious verbal abuse. He is worn in black so everyone can spot him and see his mistakes better. And whatever happens it is always his fault. That makes it easier for us. He is the final excuse for things going wrong, the ultimate bad. You have probably started thinking am I talking about Saddam, Jack the Ripper or someone like that. But no, normally he doesn’t even have a proper name. We football people just call him “referee”.

I can’t understand why does anyone want to be a referee? It is a difficult job and the amount of abuse and confrontation they get could hurt any normal person severely. It is definitely not a glamorous or well-paid job. Actually there are only few fully professional referees at all. And even them have started from lower leagues. Recently there has been a lack of referees in amateur football games because of many incidents and problems occurred there. And the less the players can play, the more it tends to be referees fault. Who wants to go through all this? I mean many footballers have worked after their career as managers, kit mans, physios, almost in any job around football. However I don’t know anyone who has gone through the humiliation of becoming a referee. What kinds of personalities does it attract?

Is it the persons who are bit masochists? Or the persons who don’t care? Or care too much? Is it the persons that love football so much they want to be involved in any way? Or is it the persons who just love rules? I doubt none of these are completely true.

Becoming a referee could appeal to persons that want some power. Maybe they need to be able to dictate and rule things. And make decisions. They might even love to have the ultimate power of a whistle. Maybe because they have no say at home. Maybe they are pushovers in real life. And they want to feel differently, to have some power for a change. Some people buy a dog. Some become referees. Some referees are blind enough for a need of a guide dog. This is at least the verdict we all like to make.

We all see things through different eyes. Like when there is a lot of bodies in the box and everyone seems to go millions of miles an hour. In the middle of it a player falls down and seems to hurt himself. When referee awards a penalty the pain disappears immediately and the player is celebrating. Referee isn’t too sure what to think about this. The crowd is. They crucify the referee for giving the penalty on weak grounds to away team.

Players are approaching the referee threathningly, most of them abusing him. This one takes it all inn, and the players can see it. That increases the volume of moaning and insults. Another referee may have given a yellow card for the first abusive language. They all have their limits. And players often try to test how far they can go.

Later on, the half time whistle is greeted with the massive chorus of boos. Spat and insults are directed to the referee. Someone even yells he claims to know where the referee lives. The referee is a bit nervous under all the pressure. After all he is just a human, unlike the crowd suggests. And humans can make errors. We don’t allow this to referees though.

On the studio, tv-pundits are speculating the penalty incident. It isn’t a clear situation. A well-known ex-player says he thinks referee might have done a mistake there. So after watching four replays from as many different angles, also on slow motion, he is as sure as “referee might have done a mistake”. Good. Let’s hammer the referee then. He should have got it right. He ruined the game. The idiot!

On the second half there are constantly two players round the referee. The other one is still moaning about the penalty. The other one is just chatting normally with him. It does go on through the rest of the game. The other player seems to be focused on referee and uses his energy on referee’s actions. He is completely off his game. Plus most of the calls are going against him. After all referees are just humans. They also have their dislikes.

The other player instead is talking and communicating with the referee. Or actually Keith as he calls him. He seems to get many calls in his favour and he also escapes almost a certain yellow card. Keith wouldn’t want to book him. A referee most likely would have. Normally Keith likes his name more than his title. With this player the game feels more personal. Although afterwards the referee is bit confused when he accidentally hears also this player slagging him off.

The away team wins two one. The home team states at the media with strong words that they lost because of the referee. The away team instead praises their attacking as the key to the victory. Funnily enough I have never heard teams winning because of the referee, only losing. Football is about big passions: we need heroes and we need scapegoats. So it is good that we have the men in black. We need to have that excuse, an idiot out there. Otherwise we might have to look at the mirror sometimes.

I have come across with many referees. They are all very different personalities with different backgrounds and reasons for being in the game. Whether it is the often rated as the best referee in the world Pierluigi Kolina or just Keith from Lewisham you still have to play by their rules. Because in the end of the day it is the referee, who gives the meaning to the existing rules by interpreting them. And players have to deal with it each time, especially because every referee has own line of interpretation.

I actually prefer Keiths. Whenever Kolina has refereed my game or I have seen him on telly, there is nothing else in him than his scary looks. Except he wants to put a show on. I like better referees like Keith who puts on an effort to communicate with players. I respect that. The others who just make a big deal about their greatness and power, I have never got on well. I think referee’s job is to help the game, not to be the game.

Keith has done his work. He can read all about it at tomorrow’s newspapers. He knows he will get his fair share of criticism and controversy there. He is quite used to it. As is about being careful when leaving the stadium. Still he is happy that he has again been involved in a great sports event. He feels powerful and that he has done as much of justice as he could have done today. Now he can go home to cook dinner to his wife. And maybe even walk the dog bit later.

This time I recommend:

1. Compex mi –sport 500 -machine
- it can do your strength, fitness, vascular, massage and rehabilitation training and all this while you are watching tv! -

2. Not believing Compex can actually do that all
- it surely helps while you are injured, but it isn’t a shortcut to any level of fitness -

3. The best of James
- good band, good music -

I don’t recommend:

1. Becoming a referee
- it is not worth the amount of abuse you would receive -

2. Abusing referees
- it is not an easy job, they try their best -

“If God was one of us..”
- singsong heard at the referee associations party

Copyright 2001 Aki Riihilahti, all rights reserved Sivun ylälaitaan