England boss Fabio Capello says he’s squarely behind the FA’s ‘respect the referee’ initiative after watching the fun and games following Ashley Cole’s tackle on Alan Hutton in the Chelsea v Spurs game last week. Cole, at least, has had the good sense to apologise for both the tackle and his attitude towards referee Mike Riley. More and more Premier League players seem to be treating the man in black as an annoyance, rather like a large bluebottle buzzing around the family car on the M1, as opposed to the guy in charge. I fear it’s too late for current league players, and although the FA’s move is a welcome one, it doesn’t go far enough. Starting at junior level, one bit of lip to the ref, and the player, and his team, should be marched back 10 metres just as they practice in rugby union. Even more important is to include the raucous parents who scream obscenities from the touchline. Perhaps their enthusiasm to question a referee’s parentage might be somewhat tamed if little Johnny gets a 3 match ban as a result.
Cameras on Cardiff
I’ve got absolutely nothing against Cardiff City but here’s a little scenario for you. It’s the 89th minute of the FA Cup semi final and City’s match against Barnsley is level a 1 – 1. The Yorkshire side make the last attack of the game and a cross from Brian Howard is headed goalwards by substitute Jonathan Macken. The goalkeeper is beaten but a City defender, rushing towards his own line, manages to hook the ball clear. Or does he? Barnsley’s players claim the goal and start celebrating, their dream of an FA Cup final appearance now seemingly a reality. TV pictures prove that in fact, the ball didn’t cross the line but after consulting his assistant, the referee awards Barnsley the goal and blows the whistle for full time. I wonder then if the nonentities that make up the Welsh FA will still be happy with their inexplicable and cowardly decision to suck up to Fifa and oppose goal line technology?
Talking of which, one of the architects of the Fifa and Uefa U-turn on goal line technology was Michel Platini. He may have been a glorious player in his day but currently, he shows all the executive skills of a small vole with learning problems. And he just can’t keep his nose out of the British game, criticising this and having a pop at that. Perhaps Monsieur Platini should look closer to home if he wants to effect change. Consider these facts. Eight games in his native France on Saturday produced crowds of 160,000. Eight games in the Premier League on the same day were watched by 243,000 fans….and that’s with none of the big 4 in action. Perhaps that’s the problem. The only reason Platini feels the need to take issue with the game in England is that he realises that no-one gives a flying fig for Ligue 1.
With ITV retaining the rights to show Champions League football on a Wednesday night, us UK football fans will be assured of some consistency. That being while Arsenal or Chelsea may be away to a top Italian side looking to hang on to a one goal advantage, good old ITV will be showing Manchester United at home to a rubbish French team who they’ve already beaten 16 – nil in the away leg. Got to keep the locals happy….in Surrey!