Newcastle United will be writing to the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) board this week with a strongly-worded letter to protest about the handling of their game at Eastlands by referee Martin Atkinson.
Martin Atkinson – under fire for incompetent handling of Eastland’s game
Former top referee Keith Hackett, who is now 66, stepped down from the PGMOL in the summer, but apparently still works with the Premier League as a consultant – and has today asked for some calm amid the growing storm over the game at Eastlands last Sunday.
This is what Keith told the Evening Chronicle today:
“The very nature of the game is that referees are going to be criticised. But as much as people might want to criticise him, the referee didn’t make the challenge, that is important to remember,” “I don’t want to pre-judge this particular situation while correspondence is still ongoing between the FA and Newcastle United, but what I will say about Martin is that he is an elite referee, he is on the UEFA and FIFA list.”
“Martin is an international referee in the highest echelons.” “If he has made a mistake – and I’m not saying this is what this is – then it is an honest mistake.” “And the injury is obviously something that affects you as a referee.” “You eat, sleep and breathe the game and when something like that happens, of course you are going to go over it.”
“Let’s put it in perspective – on average there are about 2,000 events which referees have to make a judgement on in any one game, many of them split second decisions.” “And the majority of them are called absolutely correctly, which is part of the reason why serious injuries are so rare.”
“It is not as easy as putting the decision over to someone watching it on a screen, which is a route than neither the FA or FIFA are prepared to go down and have shown no willingness to go down.” “I know that the issue of reckless challenges is a very live debate at the moment, but I think there is a determination to cut it out in the game,”
“I thought that the statement by Gordon Taylor, who came out and made a plea to cut out this type of challenge on a fellow pro, was very good.” “The Dutch manager was also pretty unequivocal in the way that he dealt with it too which says plenty.” “When I was leading the PGMOL we went into clubs and talked to managers and players about it and there was an agreement on the part of everyone that these kind of challenges were unacceptable.”
“As referees you have two options that have been agreed on by all parties.” “If it is a reckless challenge then you have to give a yellow card, but if it is a reckless challenge endangering another player then that has to be a straight red – that has always been the rule. It is up to the referees to put that into practice.”
There’s a lot of defending of the referee’s actions in that statement by Keith, and we suppose as a former referee himself, that’s not surprising.
Keith was listed from 1976 until 1992 as a Football League referee, and was a Premier League referee from 1992 until 1994, and he was a FIFA listed Referee from 1981 until 1991.
De Jong’s two-footed challenge on Ben Arfa was not even thought to be a foul by referee Atkinson, and when you look at the challenge again on TV, it was a two footed and ridiculously wild lunge, that took the player and the ball out together.
And don’t buy into the myth that if you get the ball that doesn’t mean it’s also a foul – there’s nowhere in the rules of football that say that – it’s just that pundits that have made that one up.
If the challenge was not reckless then we’re not sure what is, and since it broke Ben Arfa’s leg in two places, it had to therefore endanger the player – so he should have received a red card. QED
QED is usually put at the end of theorems when they have been proved, and is Latin for quod erat demonstrandum, which basically means it has been demonstrated.