Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

We DO Know What We're Doing - Most of the Time

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

We DO Know What We're Doing - Most of the Time

Article excerpt

Byline: 51 SPORT with Jeff Winter

REFEREES' decisions are never popular with at least one team in any game, but occasionally something comes along that baffles everybody - including, it seems, the match officials.

The laws of football are actually quite simple.

There are only 17 in total and some of them are very basic, such as the number of players, dimensions of the playing surface, the shape and size of the goal posts and the materials of the match ball.

There are a few though that, while not always understood by the fans or the players, are bread and butter to referees and are the elementary learning points on a standard referees' induction course.

Some laws would amaze the fans.

For example, if an opposing defender took a free-kick and passed it back to his goalkeeper at the Riverside, and the keeper missed it and allowed the ball to go past him into his own goal, the Boro fans' celebrations would be curtailed by the referee giving a corner.

Cue mass hysteria amidst choruses of "You don't know what you're doing".

Bizarrely, on this occasion, the much-maligned match official would be correct in law. We occasionally get weird incidents such as the 'beach ball' goal at the Stadium of Light.

Referee Mike Jones allowed the Mackems a goal when a drop ball should have been the order as, when the match ball hit the beach ball, that should have been classed as outside interference.

An area that always causes much debate and consternation is the awarding of penalties and after the decision, rightly or wrongly, has been made.

This is an area where the laws get a bit complicated.

There is not supposed to be any encroachment by any players until the ball has been kicked by the penalty taker who, along with the goalkeeper, is the only player allowed in the penalty area until the ball is played.

Despite what the laws say, this enforcement - like goalkeeper forward movement - is rarely strictly applied.

And I can think of a young German female whistler who now wishes that she hadn't been too strict recently in an Under-19s Women's Euro qualifier between Norway and England.

With 18 seconds of the game remaining and England losing 2-1, they were awarded a penalty which, if converted, would have been vital not only to the outcome of the game but also to the group qualification. …

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