Arsecast

More on refs and vids + Arsecast 237

So, an Arse free weekend looms as we have to wait until Monday night before we take on Wigan. Under normal circumstances, it’s frustrating, but because the two Merseyside club are set to kick lumps out of each other due to the fact Martin Atkinson is refereeing their FA Cup semi-final, we’ve got something to entertain us while we rest those slightly weary legs.

I’m expecting smashed femurs, busted knee-caps, roundhouse kicks to the face like a common Patrick Swayze, karate chops to the neck and a flurry of kidney punches, only for a red card to be shown to the man who gets a second yellow for kicking the ball away. Hey, I’m just adapting to what I’ve seen from Atkinson and other officials this week.

Lightly brush Ashley Young with your fingertips, BAM – Penalty! Red card! Suspension! Smash somebody in the knee with your studs, BAM – er, nothing. And Arsene Wenger is still confused, saying:

I still don’t understand. If you look at the case of Balotelli you get an explanation and you have to accept it. Then you look at the case of Derry, you get an explanation and you can accept it. But if you put the two together it looks absolutely unbelievable. When the referee has seen something nobody can get over the rule.

We need an exceptional committee of ethics who can get over that. The global situation does not make common sense.

It makes less sense than the Chewbacca defence, and that’s saying something. But what’s curious, for me at least, is that many with a larger platform than I have seem so unwilling to call out The FA for their self-imposed loophole which prevents incidents like Balotelli’s, and others, being punished properly. I have long suggested that to treat all incidents of violent conduct the same way is nonsensical. Throwing a punch is the same as ‘raising your hands’, snapping somebody’s leg in two is the same as moving your head in the direction of another player who auditions for Hollywood by falling to the floor and pretending he’s just been loafed by Yosser Hughes.

It’s easy to bemoan cheating, and violent play, but meekly accepting that these are the FA’s rules and nothing can be done about it is doing the game a disservice too. The culture of ludditism in football has to come to an end. It seems the ruling bodies value the authority of referees above everything else, even the integrity of the game itself. There is no better example of this than Arsene Wenger’s recent ban, 3 games and a £40,000 fine for daring to question an official but a team whose fans are guilty of RACISM are fined £20,000. Not to mention a game kicking off a few seconds late merits greater punishment. What planet are these people living on?

Would reviewing video evidence help referees? Of course it would. It would enable them to punish cheats after the fact. It would enable them to correct mistakes – something referees make all the time – but because the system protects them from being accountable for these errors, people’s faith in officials is eroded. That goes for fans, players and managers. They are ostriches of officialdom, hiding their heads in the sand and pretending they can’t hear the complaints.

Isn’t it time too we introduced video technology during games? There’s no reason why the 4th official, or a video official, can’t rule on incidents within seconds. Has the ball crossed the line? Did somebody smack somebody in the ribs off the ball? Was there foul play in the build up to a goal? Those that fear it will ‘slow the game down’ are already slowing the game down by their sheer unwillingness to accept that things have to change from time to time.

As long as football retains the status quo, fearing change because change is weird and scary (and I get that, believe me), then the longer injustices will continue and ultimately the game will suffer. There has to be a complete overhaul of disciplinary procedures during and after games and a focus on what’s best for football, not just referees.

If they do that they’ll find that respect for officials will increase. Honesty and integrity, even on the back of human error, will be valued far more highly than stubborn silence. A ref who admits a mistake and can then go some way to rectify it afterwards is far more likely to have people on his side than one stymied by outdated, antiquated rules enforced up by fat, bloated, corrupt businessmen whose sole interest is making money from the game of football than the game itself.

/rant over.

Moving on and Yossi Benayoun says he’s not sure where he’s going to end up next season but says he’s fully committed to Arsenal for the remaining 5 games. He wants to keep his place in the side after a couple of good displays and that seems reasonable to me. He’s been a good addition to the squad, I think. Although his contributions have been sporadic he’s added experience and quality that the manager can call on when needed, and in big games it’s quite telling the manager has used him.

Personally, I don’t think he’ll stay beyond the expiration of his loan deal. He’s already spoken about wanting to play more and as he’s well into his 30s now sitting around starting now and again at a big club is probably not ideal from his point of view. We’ll see what Arsene does but with other options likely next season he’d probably find his chances even more limited.

Some bonus reading for you this morning: Tim Stillman’s new column – Video’d kill the referee Tsar and from @7amkickoff, Wolves 0-3 Arsenal By the numbers.

Right then, onto this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined by Gunnerblog and The man from East Lower to discuss two tasty wins, a delicious slice of injustice and a side of … erm … whatever else has gone on this week. Also, Amaury Bischoff PI, Mario meets the FA and more.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (26mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

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Right, that’ll have to do for today. Any breaking news etc will be covered on Arseblog News. Until tomorrow, arsebandits.

The Tim Stillman column - Arseblog
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Fan of Arsenal, Robert Pires and most everything to do with rum and whiskey. Writer, podcaster, ace flintknapper, sluggish centre-half. Smiter of those that ought to be smote.