19 Aug 2009

Rafa Benitez vs. the FA - I know who I’m backing

The FA’s Compliance Department has written to Rafa Benitez regarding his comments about Phil Dowd after the opening day defeat to Spurs. Does the FA have a case here, or is it another instance of out of touch, deskbound bureaucrats making a mountain out of a molehill?

When asked after the game whether he expected two penalties as an away team, Benitez responded:

"Everybody could see there was a penalty against Voronin. It was so clear, it is unbelievable. With this referee, I knew this [another penalty] was impossible".

Benitez also questioned the experience level of fourth official Stuart Attwell, the 26-year-old who was at the centre of last season's 'Phantom Goal' controversy involving Reading and Watford.

"The fourth official is a young referee, and maybe he needs to calm down a bit. I do not know how old he is, but the fourth official is too young."

As a result of these remarks, the FA has creaked into action, launched an investigation and requisitioned "all available materials" to examine just exactly what went on.

I’m all for the FA’s Respect campaign but this is just ridiculous. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? The right to have an opinion? Does that all cease to exist just because the FA creates some (arguably ineffective) guidelines?

Based on Dowd and Attwell's previous performances, I would argue that what Benitez said was fair comment.

Benitez also added: “The referee did make some mistakes, and we have been told that as managers we must not make personal attacks on officials, but I believe the referee missed at least one penalty.”

What Benitez said was not a ‘personal attack’ – it was a fair opinion based on past performances. If officials regularly make mistakes, why is it wrong to highlight them?

Of course, there needs to be balance, and when the criticism of a officials is personal and unreasonable then the FA should take action, but this is not one of those situations.

It just smacks of the FA jobsworths trying to justify their jobs and jumping on anything they can in an attempt to assert their waning authority.

I have absolutely no problem with Benitez criticising referees – if it is reasonable and done in a non-personal manner then I’ll support him every time. There will be times when Benitez gets it wrong and criticises unfairly, but when he is right - like this situation - he has every right to speak out.

With the number of grave refereeing mistakes seemingly on the increase (Crystal Palace-Bristol City anyone?!), I personally believe these mistakes *should* be highlighted wherever possible.

Not that it will make a blind bit of difference to the antiquated, breathtakingly ineffective FA, who seem intent on doing everything they can to stop mistakes being publicised.

Poor referees; always being criticised. Well, no one forces them to do the job; if they can’t hack it, let them retire and replace them with refs who get the big decisions right more often and are able to take legitimate criticism.


  1. I can't believe I've just read a pro-Liverpool article from you

  2. I always write pro-Liverpool articles; people like you just have selective blindness and choose not to acknowledge them.

  3. when a manager makes mistakes e gets sacked. when a ref makes a mistake it is a sin to evn mention it? y not give the bad ones the sack just like a manager would.

  4. <p style=""><span style="">HI Jamie.</span>
    <p style=""><span style=""> </span>
    <p style=""><span style="">I read your articles with interest, testament to you sir. Can't say I always agree, but that’s by the by. </span>
    <p>I do however agree with your sentiment. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span>I would like to ask you and your readers if I may – what you think of goal line technology and a more effective 4<sup>th</sup> video judge like we see in virtually every other sport now. I personally believe there is SO much money involved within SO many different industries off the back of football, without technology you run very close to the eternal old claim of fixing. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"> </span>We only have to look at how many mistakes were made last season that cost teams up and down the league so costly. I could be cynical and claim that certain teams benefit while some don’t – but that’s another issue. For me, this weekend’s performance, or lack of, from the officials again adds weight to getting technology used effectively.
    <p>Looking for tonight’s game now, expecting a positive and hopefully we can say the past two games last season only saw us reap 1 point, a win tonight means +2 on last season.

  5. the fa has to much pride to admit there mistakes

  6. Another good article,are you ok Jamie?Dowd never gives us fuck all,he was running the line when malouda dived for the rent boys pen, two seasons ago, and went blind again.We didnt deserve anything sunday..but Voronin earned a pen    

  7. I don't think Rafa stepped over the line or was in any danger of doing so.  His peice with his glasses was clever.  Dowd is a bit of a strange bloke, a bit spineless and likes to keep his head down on the big decisions.

  8. Jamie.. Good point, glad to see you sticking up for the gaffer..

    Just wanted some help clearing something up - after the community shield, didn't Rudolph Fungusface have a go at the refereeing decisions? Maybe i'm wrong but i don't see the FA asking him for any explanations..

    i mean, i knew that they gave him preferrential treatment but i generally thought the made an effort to disguise it...

  9. <span style=" color: #404040;">
    <table class="js-singleCommentBodyT" style="font-family: Verdana, Helvetica; text-align: left; font-size: 8pt; color: #404040; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%">
    <tr style="vertical-align: top;">
    <td style="padding-bottom: 8px;" colspan="2">
    <div class="js-singleCommentText" style="padding-top: 4px;">"I can't believe I've just read a pro-Liverpool article from you"</div>

    Literally what I was thinking.

  10. wow. he has quite a mouth. but we all knew that didnt we?