Dr Ningthoujam Rameshchandra
Contd from previous issue
Talking in term of verbal abuse of match officials by the players and team/club officials. I mean those match referees/officials have also family like we have. And in most of the cases, their family or relatives also often come to stadium/football field to support him or her. So, it’s not only the humiliation faced by the referee, when you abuse them, but it is for the family and relative members including his or her kids, his wife or her husband. What their kids and wife/husband must have thought of, if such abusive incident happens ? An excerpt from the interview report with match officials/referee with the Guardian journal says as:
I came away from that game feeling worthless, and deeply nervous for the next time I would have to referee.
Every game since I’ve felt extremely anxious about taking to the pitch. Fearing another 90 minutes of abuse every weekend led me to take a little time away from refereeing. I started refereeing because among other things it was a job I knew I’d enjo–but I found myself despising it.
The abuse continued after the final whistle. I was sworn at and humiliated as I went to shake the hands of the people who had spent the last hour making my life hell. I reached breaking point. (The Guardian, 2017)
It is found out that the Indian referees are also not allowed to give interviews. If they do so, they have to do it with anonymity. An excerpt from the interview of the ESPN correspondence Sharda Ugra with some of the Indian referee, says: “football referees don’t give interviews.” The only person authorised to speak about refereeing in Indian football is the AIFF Director of referees, Goutam Kar. The rash of referee criticism this season is not new; referees get criticised everywhere in the world, even in World Cups, and that the viewing public and television experts don’t understand the rules and “the perfect referee is yet to be born” (Sharda Ugra, 2018)
Another thing is that some player always try to cheat the referee/match official either by diving or by faking or play-acting. Such thing is quite common in football and for such silly thing from the players, referees are the one who got blame, from the coaches, from the fellow players–off the field, on the field and from the fans, from the gallery, everywhere. Referee has hardly any support, as if they have to behave like a machine–a programmed one without any emotion. But, let’s not forget that even the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), that has been installed in some of the advance country’s league has not done away with controversy. So, when that machine assisted football leagues are not free from controversy, how can you expect a wonderland Disneyland of football in Manipur ?
I know and I have also had some of my personal experiences in my decade-long footballing career as an amateur player in and around Imphal Clubs like Citizen, NESU, USA, SFC and so on, that local referees are not up to the mark and sometimes biased. Those biased nature of the referee is not at all to be supported. But we have to think deeper why such below par referee still conduct the official matches of Manipur State leagues? What and how far AMFA has done for the improvement of the standard of the referees ? How well they are paid and so on. People hardly question such thing. Instead, people abuse referees on the spot, either physical or verbal.
Football is regarded as the beautiful game, but until all players, coaches and supporters treat referees like human beings it will be a beautiful game with a very ugly side. You may also keep in mind that there was never a perfect football referee, and the perfect football referee is yet to be born.
The writer can be reached at [email protected]