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FFA’s acknowledgement of Referee inadequacy, insufficient

FFA’s acknowledgement of Referee inadequacy, insufficient and inexcusable.

The admission from the FFA that referee Ben Williams totally stuffed the Phoenix versus Melbourne Heart game is just the latest instance in the A League where the referees are wrecking the integrity of the competition, totally ruining the fan experience and quite frankly making investment in clubs by the private sector questionable. Who wants to invest to build a club when it’s random whether the club succeeds on the field or not?

It’s not as though this is a first or isolated instance That the FFA acknowledges its referees make mistakes and big ones that determine outcomes is enlightened. That it takes no action to rectify systemic inadequacy is not.

As any business manager knows when you detect dysfunction in your processes you first find out why and then you make system changes to prevent reoccurrences. Importantly, decent Boards know that human error must always be allowed for although of course training staff is the key to minimising occurrences. Referees are human so errors must be allowed for. But as other sports have illustrated many moons ago, the worst of these blunders can be corrected. Football is in the dark ages on this score and it’s an indictment of the administrators.

Whether it be tennis (Hawkeye), NRL and Super 15 (Video refs) or cricket (Third Umpire) other sports have moved with the times. FIFA is just awful in this regard, not helping the public perception that football is one of the most corrupt sports on the planet. FFA is in an ideal position to get on and show some leadership and respect for football fans who have to stomach this. An easy regime to begin with would be to enable the captains of each team two calls per match to have a referee’s decision or lack of a decision reviewed by a television assisted official. This way the match wouldn’t be slowed by incessant replays but clearly if it showed a pattern of endemic inadequacy, then the number of claims permitted per match would have to rise until referee accuracy improved. It is no good everyone just calling for the referee’s head, this is a management deficiency. The referee’s decision should not be determining the outcome of matches.

The fans and the investors in the A League deserve better from the FFA, way better. Some leadership is needed if the integrity of adjudication in this competition is going to meet minimum expectations.

Dr Gareth Morgan
Part Owner, Wellington Phoenix

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