Leeds v Arsenal – VAR was right but referees should demand more respect from players and coaches

Discipline at The Arsenal by Ken1945

On my last day in sunny Spain, I reflected on the way clubs like City, ‘pool and Manure reacted during their games over the weekend, and compared it to the way we conducted ourselves after Leeds were awarded an injury time penalty and a red card issued to Gabriel.

It saddens me, as an ex-referee, to watch manure, once again, try to intimidate the referees by surrounding and shouting abuse at them.

I was also appalled by the reaction of the manager at the end of the game, when he failed to criticise his players.

Just as I was staggered to see Klopp and Pep berating the fourth official, and BOTH managers should have been sent off in my opinion.

Klopp has now apologised, but it seems that all grass root football around Liverpool has now been suspended, because of the way, in the words of the local referee’s association, amateur footballers are mimicking the professional players.

Take the actions of the three managers above and compare them to MA – is there any difference?

Is there, also, any difference between our players and theirs?

I would like to think there is/was, even when Gabriel and the penalty decision was so wrong.

It’s about time the game supported the referees at every level and abided by the same rules.

I was told that if any player abused me personally, by using foul language, he was to be sent off – why is that not the case in the professional game?

I also believe referees should come out at the end of the game and explain their decisions, and are wired up in order for the crowd, media and pundits to hear and discuss what went on.

As I have said many times before, our referees are amongst the worst in the world and they need good leadership, but while managers, players, media and fans have no idea what they are doing, it will not improve.

Deduct points from clubs, demote incompetent referees and ban fans who abuse… that’s my opinion, what’s yours?


Tags referees respect


  1. Agree ken but Gabriel should have left the field immediately, which he didn’t and while we were not like wild animals we still surrounded the ref and linesman. I agree, anyone swearing at the ref should be sent off but they won’t because of the backlash.

    1. If Rooney was sent off every time he swore at the ref, he would not have lasted any games, his foul mouth tirades never got him sent off.

      1. On both points Reggie – I agree that Gabriel should have walked immediately, but it was the awful red card that should never have been shown that, maybe, explains his protest?

        That’s my point, if any amateur referee had been subjected to that kind of abuse and followed the rules, he would have been sent off and rightly so.

        It would then have been up to Rooney and / or the club to control such behaviour.

        I think MA comes out as a much more disciplined manager than those I mentioned.

        1. @ken Have you forgot Arteta last season screaming at the ref as he walked towards the monitor and jeering up the crowd .
          Yes Klopp is probably b the worst of the bunch but I can name probably only a few managers that show calm and respect .

          1. No Dan, I haven’t forgotten my friend.
            However, I have said recently how MA has, seemingly, calmed down this season – perhaps due to the results?
            I couldn’t see how he reacted to the Gabriel situation, that’s why I didn’t comment on his actions.

        2. Come on Ken on what metric have you based this on “ As I have said many times before, our referees are amongst the worst in the world”
          I just can’t believe that’s true 🤔

      2. @Reggie
        If Rooney’s foul mouth towards the referees was delt with immediately in his first few seasons then he would have not continued mouthing off.

        You apply the rules.
        He swears at the referee the referee warns him, he swears again yellow card him. He swears again you red card him.

        In the next game he does the same thing and you give him a straight yellow card. He does it again another yellow card and he is off.

        In the next game you warn him, he does it again and you red card him straight away.

        In the next game his manager and teammates will be be so nervous that they will be his ear for 90 minutes forcing him to keep his mouth shut disrespecting the referee.

        But because referees are put under so much pressure by everyone (Managers, Fans, pundits etc), they are terrified of being the main talking point (controversial decision maker) after any game, so they cower and fail to apply the rules.

  2. Until the powers that be lay down the law on abuse it will keep happening ,no respect is shown because players and managers get away with ,compare football to rugby and you can see how far football as to go to each that kind of respect .
    Unfortunately having Riley in charge and soon be MR Man Utd himself Howard Webb I wouldn’t hold at for it to change anytime soon .

  3. Punishing personal abuse in the field using cards is better than point deduction, because we shouldn’t punish the whole team just because someone uses a foul language

    Banning a manager or a player for several games and fine them should be enough to make them more careful with words

    1. Got point on how competent they are .
      The richest league in world football but the worst refs ,by a country mile .

  4. 20+ yrs late in my opinion, But hey we have start from some where.
    Shouting and yelling at the refs to me isnt an issue since emotions are high and tempers flair up due to our testosterones and perceived injustice , but the line should be drawn on insults and abuse on the ref. A straight yellow followed by a warning ( and not the other way around ) should work perfectly.

  5. Abusing officials is but one of many things that has crept into football that I’d love to see consigned to history by the powers that be – diving is another one as is writhing around on the ground to break up play, slow things down etc.

    The solutions aren’t rocket science – Talk back to a ref? Get yellow carded. Dive? Introduce a citing panel for unsportsmanlike play with retroactive suspensions. Rolling around the turf injured and stopping the game? Off the pitch until cleared to go back on by medical team which should take at least five minutes.

    The fact that the powers that be aren’t even considering these or other measures makes me think they don’t really care if they are eliminated from the game. I didnt know about grassroots football in Liverpool, that’s pretty disturbing.

  6. On a light note, years ago I went to see a Rodney Marsh George Best road show. Rodney Marsh told an anecdote about an incident during his playing days. If memory servers me correct, During the game the Ref gave a decision against Marsh which he furiously disagreed with. He approached the Ref and said to him
    “Ref supposing I called you a * * * * * * * * * * * what would you do”
    Ref “ I’d send you off”
    Marsh “ what if I only think your a * * * * * * * * * * *” Ref “ I can’t send you off for what your thinking, Marsh “ well I think you’re a * * * * * * * * * * * “ The ref laughed and they got on With the game. How times have changed.

    1. Rob49, I wonder if that was when he was playing for Fulham. There was a Fulham game where the ref gave a free kick for handball, which Rodney Marsh said the ref couldn’t have seen.

  7. A timely piece Ken, not sure if you’ve seen the articles BBC Sport has been running on this subject the last few days. The first got something like 1500 replies so they kept going.

    The articles asked for views on the quality of refereeing, the reasons behind it, people’s stories of refereeing etc.

    What was surprising was the number of responses from people who were refs in lower levels of football saying that they’d been sworn at, assaulted when they sent people off, assaulted for no reason – and all said they were given no support by the FA.

    Just about the best that anyone said was that they were routinely shouted and sworn at by parents, spectators, players – and they’d all had enough, most of them had given up refereeing.

    If they’re being driven out of the lower levels by bad behaviour by all and sundry, is it any surprise that the standards are low at the top level? By that time we’re only left with the people who have toughed it out.

  8. Just remembering some of the stories I read in the comments to the BBC Sport articles.

    One ref, a vicar, sent a player off and the player came into his changing room while he was showering an attacked him.

    One was attacked by the players of the home side and a number of spectators.

    Another gave up when, all in the same week, three things happened – I can’t remember them all but one was having his car keyed while refereeing a match.

  9. I take a different view from Ken about our manager and players being less guilty of ref baiting than such as Liverpool and CITY, judged OVERALL.
    I a\m always appalled at how much stick refs are allowed to be given by the useless footballauthorities.

    I AGRE WITH KEN that judged overall in thr PREM, our refs are extremely poor and worse than many globally.

    But I see OUR refs being put under enormous and intolerabe pressure from managers, players AND fans alike. AND by the appalling idea of VAR, which is insulting andundermining refs across the globe.
    It is a dreadful and totally wrongheaded thing to have ever been brought in and were I in charge I would ban VAR being used completely and I would do it right NOW.
    I totally disagree with ALL the many fans everywhere who claim refs are biased against their team. That is arrant nonsense spoken by biased fans , EVERYWHERE.

    Simply put , my belief is that refs should be backed up wholeheartedly and not and never undermined by atrocious player, manager, fans and football authority cheating and immature behaviour.

    I believe thet refs can never improve while the game wilfully makes them the “patsys” of the game They are not!! Yes, they are poor, so the way forward is to train them better and to also support them fully and properly, while thry improve . NOT to undermine them at every turn.

    I support refs being properlyand ultimately in charge and I also think we must just accept that refs will make honest mistakes , just as do players, managers and fan, who make slanderously wrong accuasations of refs cheating.



    If only more people had the sense to know that. But most do not! SIGH!

  10. “I also believe referees should come out at the end of the game and explain their decisions, and are wired up in order for the crowd, media and pundits to hear and discuss what went on.”

    On that point, I think they should go further than just “wiring them up”, the deliberations should be public including inside the stadium.

    The authorities say they didn’t copy other sports in this because they are afraid of the intimidation and aggression by the crowd. I think it’s incredible that the rules are made based on fear of spectators’ behaviour.

    If the crowd can hear and see the deliberations of the officials while they are watching the footage they will understand the decision. If they behave badly as a result then action should be taken and repeated until it stops.

    It’s in the same vein as the discussion about players, spectators, managers all showing no respect for refs – punish it harshly until it stops.

    Yes, it could be done by yellow/red cards but they could also try punishing transgressors “after the fact” – ban them for a game, even if it’s all 11 players of one side and half of another.

    The advantage of that approach is that the game isn’t reduced to 3-a-side, but if a club has half its players suspended they will soon instill discipline and respect into them and it will rub off elsewhere.

    Also, the FA need to start dishing out long-term bans to players for assaulting refs, possibly permanent bans in some cases and the police should be bringing assault charges.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    1. P.S. If anyone hasn’t seen how it’s done in rugby, the autumn internationals are coming up – have a look at that and see what you think of that way of doing VAR.

      I think it works really well and would be just as good in football.

    1. Absolutely right Ken.

      I just checked back to see if there was anything more said on this and I’m surprised this piece didn’t generate more discussion. It’s kinda important stuff!

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