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Sportsview by David Eidlestein - refs need a better approach

By shill  |  Posted: March 26, 2014

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Yet another monumental lash-up by a Premier League referee stole the weekend spotlight when all the focus should have been on some spectacular football.

Instead of rhapsodising about Chelsea’s stunning 6-0 win over Arsenal or Liverpool’s 6-3 victory at Cardiff, the headlines were hijacked by Andre Marriner.

The official managed to send off the wrong Arsenal player – defender Kieran Gibbs instead of attacker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – for handball in the penalty area.

Virtually the entire audience at Stamford Bridge could see the error and both the players involved told the referee he’d picked on the wrong man.

But Marriner, lacking any guidance or enlightenment from the other match officials, stood firm and brandished the red card at the unfortunate Gibbs.

The blunder didn’t affect the outcome – Chelsea were already almost out of sight by then – but it did make the ref look ridiculous.

People throughout the game have been queuing up to have their say all week, many calling for the apologetic Marriner to be stood down for a spell, either as punishment or to take him out of the firing line.

Others reiterated the call for more technology to be introduced to the elite level of the game, as in rugby and cricket, so that match officials have an immediate opportunity to double-check after incidents.

Later the referees’ body announced that Marriner would be appointed to officiate at the Southampton-Newcastle game this Saturday, declaring that he should have the chance to get over his mistake immediately.

Marriner is by no means the worst of the elite referees – Chris Foy has that distinction sewn up – and it has to be accepted that officials are human and can make errors in the heat of battle.

However, it’s hard to escape the fact that none of his so-called assistants apparently spotted the mistake, which suggests that perhaps their training – or their concentration - is not all it could be.

It is unfortunate, too, that so many of the top refs display the sort of arrogant body language that can serve to aggravate an already fraught situation. Too many look as though they want their few minutes of fame.

Goal-line technology has been a welcome addition to the Premier League but in truth mistaken identity is such a rare occurrence that it is an over-reaction to demand cameras to stamp it out. Better quality officiating is the answer.

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