Blimey – did you see the sending off incident in the Sunderland v Newcastle United game? Fabricio Coloccini shoved the Sunderland striker off the ball as he approached the keeper, the ref gave a penalty and sent off Coloccini. I have seen the incident about 25 times now and I still can’t make up my mind whether the sending off decision was right. The penalty was spot on, mind.
When I saw the shove by Coloccini in real time, I thought, “Hmm. He’s in trouble here.” Then Sky helpfully ran the clip over and over again. The referee saw it once, mind you, He saw an incident where the opposition centre off deliberately committed a foul to avoid a goalscoring opportunity and sent the bloke off. If I’d been the ref, I would have sent off Coloccini again and again for arguing, as well as half his team mates, not to mention Steve McClaren who behaved like the total arse he is. At one point, it looked as if he might burst into tears.
What if the ref got it wrong? The only thing he might have got wrong was to give a red card instead of a yellow, but I only say might. The truth is that he’d have been slaughtered by one side or other no matter what decision he arrived at. This is the point about football refereeing: every decision is in the opinion of the ref.
We could, of course, introduce video replays like they do in rugby union. This might well mean more good decisions but it would also slow the game down to snail’s pace and slower. And do we really want to go down the road of rugby union?
You know, rugby union, the game where the referee is always right even when he is wrong, unless he is Craig Joubert, in which case the officials who run the game and the media darlings who pontificate on it can slag the man off to their hearts content. I had the impression that, given half a chance, ex Scotland legend Gavin Hastings would have punched Joubert’s lights out. So much for the gentleman’s game, eh?
For Sky TV, the sending off is but something to discuss after the game. It’s a “talking point”, you see. And every day, in every way, we move nearer to four hour games with constant references to the video ref because “so much money is at stake these days”.
The sending off was Coloccini’s fault. If he hadn’t committed the cynical foul, he wouldn’t have been booked, never mind sent off. The referee might indeed be “a wanker” as the away following indicated he was, but not as big a wanker as the bloke who got himself sent off.