IF THIS WERE AN EPL TITLE RACE IT WOULD BE TOO MOUTH-WATERING TO CALL:
While Manchester United have been crowned this year’s EPL champions, the title race for the EPL’s worst referee is far from over.
Chris Foy and Howard Webb are currently the leading vote-getters in our poll. But now the man in charge of the Chelsea-Liverpool Rocky Horror Picture Show - referee Kevin Friend - has been gaining ground.
The race for the least liked match official was further heightened after Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic unwillingly became part of the Sunday evening dinner menu at Anfield when he was bitten by Liverpool forward Luis Suarez.
The talented Uruguyan striker scored what should have been an incredible stoppage time equalizer on the final play of the game. But twenty minutes beforehand, a global television audience of millions looked on in shock as they watched replays of Suarez biting Ivanovic on the arm as the two jostled for position inside the Chelsea penalty area.
Suarez has since apologized for the incident and after the match on Sunday tweeted out his regrets over his indiscrete nibble on Ivanovic’s sleve.
I’m sad for what happened this afternoon, I apologize Ivanovic and all football world for my inexcusable behaviour. I’m so sorry about it!!
— Luis Suarez (@luis16suarez) April 21, 2013
But the damage was already done and the costly dinner bill was already on the way.
On Wednesday Suarez received a massive 10-game suspension by the football Association, and on Friday he said he would not appeal the ban.
Two days earlier Liverpool moved to fine Suarez an undisclosed amount over the incident but at the same time stated that Suarez still has a future with the club. On Thursday Liverpool manager Bendan Rodgers criticized the suspension saying it was much to harsh.
Immediately following the attack and again after the final whistle Ivanovic complained to the referee, but he Friend appeared disinterested in the player’s account of the incident or teeth marks on the defenders’ arm.
There have been several video posts circulating on Youtube and other social media images (displayed in this post) within moments of the incident and then some more clever ones in the days following the incident.
Suarez was banned from Dutch First Division play in 2010 for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in a match earning him the infamous nickname ‘The Cannibal of Ajax’.
Last year he received an eight-match ban for racist insults directed at Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Evra could very well be the subject of his own disciplinary hearing by the FA after poking fun at Suarez following Manchester United’s title-clinching victory over Aston Villa on Monday by biting down on fake bloodied arm a during post-match celebrations.
Even though Suarez’ latest bizarre actions greatly tarnished the image of the EPL, Tuesday’s decision came as somewhat of a surprise as the Football Association has previously distanced itself from making supplementary decisions on incidents of violent conduct not spotted by match officials. But the pressure on this one - even from circles outside of the football world such as British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office - must have been too much for the FA to ignore.
But what message is this really sending? When other players escape punishment for equally dangerous offences? Sure Suarez’ actions were completely unacceptable, but so were some other more recent incidents.
The Football Association rejected appeals from Newcastle in March after referee Mark Halsey completely missed a horror tackle by Norwich forward Callum McManaman on Magpies’ defender Massadiro Haidara.
In its statement the governing body declared it didn’t want to get into the business of “re-refereeing” and would not suspend McManaman.
Halsey received death threats after the incident while former EPL referee Graham Poll even suggested Halsey should retire from the game.
Last weekend referee Chris Foy failed to make a call after Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero stomped on the lower back of Chelsea’s David Luiz in a heated FA Cup semi-final match the previous day at Wembley.
The current leader of our poll, Foy claimed he never saw the stomp, so not surprisingly last Monday the FA announced that Aguero will
Nobody at Upton Park was blowing bubbles for referee Lee Probert either, after his showing in Wednesday’s 2-2 EPL clash between West Ham and Manchester United.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce could be the most justified in complaining about the performance of Probert and his linesman since Robin Van Persie’s second half equalizer appeared to be offside. But another incident of violent conduct that went unpunished occured just before the stroke of halftime when West Ham forward Andy Carroll steamrolled right through Red Devils’ David De Gea in the climax of an extended session of penalty area wrestling before a free kick.
Carroll’s rugby tackle left the slight Red Devils’ goalkeeper crumpled on the ground in the penalty area. The foul sent manager Sir Alex Ferguson into his customary sideline dialogue with the fourth official and supplemental post-match rant.
“It’s an obvious red card but the referee has seen it differently,” Ferguson said after the match . “We know how (our opponents) play, the ball is in the air most of the time.You’ve got to defend those things and they’re very, very ..aggressive, so you hope there’s a strong referee. I’m not so sure we got that tonight.”
The focus really shouldn’t be completely on the vile nature of the Suarez incident, we have also witnessed a number of fouls which could have resulted in serious personal injury or precipitated on-field punches but were ignored by those reviewing the plays.
In the end what this flawed process does is create a toxic environment on the field and further detracts from the spectacle of the beautiful game as a whole. The last week has clearly exposed the weak level of refereeing in the Premiership and a flawed disciplinary system which governs it.
For now the only option we have is to weed-out the worst match officials and expose them for what they are.
Share this post with your friends and on social media and encourage others to vote. At the end of the season we will calculate the final results of our poll and announce the name of the EPL’s worst ref.
There are only a few weeks to go so have your say and cast your vote below:
Who is the EPL's worst referee?
- Robert Madley (0%, 4 Votes)
- Simon Beck (1%, 9 Votes)
- Jonathan Moss (1%, 11 Votes)
- Anthony Taylor (1%, 13 Votes)
- Michael Oliver (2%, 14 Votes)
- Mike Jones (2%, 15 Votes)
- Roger East (2%, 15 Votes)
- Neil Swarbrick (2%, 17 Votes)
- Andre Marriner (3%, 28 Votes)
- Lee Mason (4%, 34 Votes)
- Lee Probert (4%, 34 Votes)
- Martin Atkinson (4%, 39 Votes)
- Mark Halsey (5%, 45 Votes)
- Phil Dowd (8%, 68 Votes)
- Mike Dean (8%, 70 Votes)
- Kevin Friend (9%, 79 Votes)
- Mark Clattenburg (18%, 161 Votes)
- Chris Foy (30%, 265 Votes)
- Howard Webb (31%, 276 Votes)
Total Voters: 877