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Some Perspective on Refereeing

As a referee, and a soccer fan who has watched games from all over the world, Lev Yashin looks into the mentality and quality of refereeing worldwide.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The referee is a . . . what​ ?

The dictionary states that the meaning of the word REFEREE is "one to whom something is referred especially for decision on settlement-ARBITRATOR," meaning, a person chosen to decide a dispute or settle differences especially one formally empowered to examine the facts and decide the issue. In certain sports and games a judge having functions fixed by the rules of the game or sport.

JUDGE-A person appointed to decide in any competition, contest or matter at issue.


Putting this all together we have a referee who is qualified to decide the application of the rules of association football (Soccer). QUALIFIED is the optimum word here because this is in itself is arbitrary. Passing the courses and getting a certificate is one thing but experience along with common sense is quite another.

What we see week in week out at any Soccer game is a referee who decides (IN HIS OPINION) the correct ruling on the events occurring at any one time during the course of a game.

Having been a referee for 5+ years I now know that I am definitely DEAF-DUMB and BLIND as are all referees. Sometimes we could be called a lot worse.

A long time ago a coach of mine stated that MOST decisions by the referee DO NOT affect the outcome of a game. What had more affect was whether the players scored on their chances or whether the defenders had a high enough level of awareness to win the game.

In the course of a game decisions go for and against any team, so to blaming the referee is wasting energy on something that will never likely be changed. Once a referee has made his mind up, he is always right (in his own opinion). I should know because I have had the experience.

Referees always REACT to the actions on the field of play so no foul- no call against- simple.

In the course of the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of watching at least 50+ games live or on T.V. (I am retired). I watched soccer games from across Europe, South America, the U.K., MLS. Across the board referees have made some bizarre calls, but it is their decision and theirs alone.

'Ball to hand' is a huge issue, and I've recently seen this scenario at least 10 times with a 50/50 split on a penalty call or not.

'Diving' is another prickly issue that is contentious, to say the least, and again there is another 50/50 split on decisions.

It is all in how the ref sees the issue, remembering that if the call goes your team's way then he is only doing what you know is right. If the call goes against your team then "THE REFEREE IS A ----------!

MLS referees are no different than those across the globe; good/ bad /indifferent, it all depends on whether your team won or lost. They are only human and are just as likely to make mistakes as any other person does in the course of their day. It just so happens that they have a whistle and 2 cards that have a huge meaning in the sport of soccer.

You have to be a certain kind of individual to put yourself in the line of fire especially at the top level.

We live in hope of witnessing the PERFECT game refereed without fault.