Are Referee’s becoming more important than ever in football? I’d say yes judging by the Premier League season so far.
In my opinion, the Referee should be giving a penalty every time a defender is grabbing their opponent’s shirt inside the box when defending a set piece. We see defenders get away with it more often that not, something which expresses the lack of consistency amongst refereeing decisions. I realise this remains an ongoing dispute, but I see no resolution so far? As a Liverpool fan, I watch Martin Skrtel grab a handful of his opponent’s shirt when defending from a corner or free kick and every week I see it ignored by referees. If penalties were never given for this then I have no problem but some are and some aren’t, which surely defeats the object of making football a fair game.
Some will say it is simply part of the game, however I have to say I disagree. I believe the FA must enforce to their referees that challenges such as this, inside the penalty area, are a clear obstruction and something which can stop a goal scoring opportunity. The Referee has nothing else but the penalty area to look at during a set piece therefore surely they must be able to see this every time it happens; if the FA express the need to stamp down on this then referees have no reason to miss a defender pulling back or blocking the way of an attacker.
Over the weekend, I watched Wayne Rooney wrestle Tottenham’s Harry Kane inside the box as a set piece came in, however no action was taken- an obvious foul missed during a 0-0 stalemate between two sides challenging for Europe. Yes there is a long way to go in the season yet, but a decision such as that could eventually prove to be significant in the outcome of a team’s campaign. Even if the attacker does not go to ground, what is to say that it is not worthy of a penalty?
With the Premier League being the most competitive league in the world, it is all more important that Referees begin to stamp down on grabbing and shirt pulling in the box as it is becoming increasingly noticeable how teams are being cheated of goal scoring opportunities. It goes both ways too- both big and small clubs often find themselves hard done by.