Date: 29th May 2008 at 7:03pm
Written by:

Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlos Queiroz have escaped punishment for their comments following our FA Cup defeat against Portsmouth. Yet the FA does not wish to accept the ruling.

It is well known that disciplinary cases are in the hands of independent committees: they decide whether a too outspoken manager warrants punishment. The independing committee ruled that Sir Alex Ferguson’s following comments were not out of order.

‘Managers get sacked because of things like that and he’s going to referee a game next week. He is not doing his job properly and he needs to be assessed … that performance today should not be accepted by our game.’

‘He’ is a reference to referee’s chief Keith Hackett. Queiroz’s outburst was a bit stronger, allegedly accusing Martin Atkinson of being a robber.

It is nothing new, many managers said worse things. Arsene Wenger got away with calling the linesman a ‘liar’ after they lost the Carling Cup and their players got involved in a pathetic brawl.

But this case will be different as the FA is reportedly considering an appeal. I think this sets a dangerous precedent.

First of all, what is the use of an independent committee if the governing body is not willing to accept its ruling? Surely the whole point is being independent therefore not favouring either side on theory.

And there’s another thing to consider. Anyone in the game can come out and say that a manager is not doing his job properly, a player is playing poorly, an owner is ruining football and so on. Jose Mourinho was free to call Ronaldo uneducated and Wenger a voyeur… that was all good and proper.

Yet you can’t say a word about the FA and about the referees. Why are they protected from any kind of criticism? They have their own job yet if they commit mistakes there is no way to let them know. It is very, very rare that an official gets demoted – unless Liverpool FC ask for it, of course – and due to this self-protecting nature, the standard of refereeing is not likely to improve.

It’s not necessarily worse than two or three decades ago, it’s just that the spotlight is on it now. Managers are obliged to attend press conferences (even if some of them, like our very own Scot, trust this job to his assistant) so why can’t the same be applied to referees? If they cannot be criticised by managers, then at least let them feel the pressure of the press – what managers feel all the time.