Five reasons why we need to have more respect for A-League Men referees

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When a game doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, it’s easy to try and find someone to blame for it.

Fans love to do anything they can to avoid admitting that their team simply didn’t perform well, and who better to throw under the bus than the person who made all the calls?

There has been controversy after controversy surrounding the A-League Men referees, they’re bound to cop some sort of backlash every other week. But it’s time to understand that the referee is rarely at fault.

Here’s why we need to have more respect for our ALM referees.

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1. They’re some of the best in the world

Just as players have to go through extensive training to reach their full potential, the training of a referee can be just as tough. Becoming an ALM match official is not an easy thing to do, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, which is why we can trust that they are truly some of the best in the world.

Football Australia has multiple in-depth referee development and training programs that include thorough courses topped with exams that must be passed in order for a referee to progress. These programs are not only to train upcoming ALM referees, but to support their continuous development.

Australia has been recognised globally for its quality of football referees on a number of occasions over the years. Former A-League Men referee Jarred Gillett was the English Premier League’s first ever foreign referee, which certainly says something about the standard of Australian referees.

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There were 28 Australian match officials who were appointed to FIFA’s panel of international referees for 2022, and there’s no doubt that this number will increase for 2023.

2. There wouldn’t be a game without them

Something that people quite often forget about when watching a tense game of football, is the fact that none of this could happen without our match officials, so why not give them some more credit for what they do?

There are always three teams out on the field, and regardless of what frustrated players and fans might want to say, the team of five is the most important.

Referees run hard, work hard, and never lose focus to ensure that the game is running as smoothly and fairly as possible. With out them, the game simply wouldn’t exist.

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3. There’s no such thing as referee bias

Unfortunately, it’s a comment that can pop up here and there amongst a frustrated crowd, when the truth is, the referee is just doing their job.

Being a referee is a profession, it’s their job, and they take it seriously. The ALM referees are just as passionate about football as anyone else, which is why accusing a referee of being biased is the furthest from the truth you could get.

All ALM referees are aware that match-fixing is illegal and will result in them getting the sack. It is a part of their contract to ensure a fair game, they are not out there to cause trouble, they’re out there to do the exact opposite.

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4. Respect goes both ways

We’ve all heard the term ‘respect goes both ways’, but in the football world, it is more important than ever. Respecting our ALM match officials is the key to a clean game.

Empathy is what allows a referee to see the difference between simple frustrations with the game, and serious dissent. When a referee feels respected by the players and their supporters, it is easier for them to see the game clearly.

If the match officials aren’t being abused, they are less likely to lose control of a game, and more likely to remain level-headed, and make rational decisions.

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5. They’re only human

Everyone makes mistakes. Players, coaches, fans, everyone – you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. Referees aren’t perfect, there are times where they will make debatable calls, but they can’t take it back once it’s already done.

So, next time you’re about to have a go at a referee, or try to blame a poor game on them, take a step back and try to remember that they’re only human. They deserve more respect.

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Feature image credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Neve McGavock
Neve McGavockhttps://everneve.com/
Studying a Bachelor of Journalism and Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong. Covering Sydney FC for the 2022/23 season.

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