A maior rede de estudos do Brasil

Grátis
6 pág.
Rules_Fairness_And_The_Apparent_Duty_To_Entertain_

Pré-visualização | Página 2 de 3

that it wishes its rules to apply unilaterally. This indeed has been its defence, or
at least the defence of its president, Sepp Blatter, against the introduction of goal-line
technology to ascertain when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line (or not) and thus to
determine more precisely when a goal has (or has not) been legitimately scored.1
Secondly, and more interestingly for our purposes vis-à-vis officiating, is the limits of
powers and the constraints upon the scope of the powers of a football referee.
In football the full range of referees’ decisions are laid out by FIFA in Law 5.
Moreover, it states:
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or
not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final. The referee may only change a
decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant
referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the
match.2
What, may one ask, is a referee to do when a game of such importance in the world of
global sport becomes a contest of aggression and intimidation such that the greatest
Dutch player ever, and one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Johan Cruyff,
describes his own national team’s performance in derogatory terms: ‘very dirty’, ‘ugly’,
‘vulgar’ and, last but not least, ‘anti-football’.3 His criticism extended, however, to the
referee. He stated:
you [sic] can referee wrongly, make a mistake, but what you cannot do is create your own
sense of justice and, even worse, invent a very personal application of the rules.
Not only did he not send off two Dutchmen but he also looked the other way at times
when he should have involved himself.
A World Cup final deserves great refereeing and, above all, deserves a referee who dares
to do everything it means to be a judge.4
In at least one sense, Cruyff blames the referee for actions taken by the players,
against whom he levels a certain amount of opprobrium but falls short of attributing full
responsibility. I cannot say that I am in complete agreement with him on that one for
reasons too obvious to expand upon. But his remarks did not entail the exculpation of
players for the debacle, and he went on to assert that he felt the referee should have sent
off two Dutch players during normal time.5 Among other things said in his defence, Webb
had wondered aloud what kind of final it would have been if he had sent off two
Dutchmen in normal time. The game as a contest would have been effectively over. What
obligations did Webb owe to the world’s governing body, the match sponsors, the
hundreds of millions of (largely impartial) spectators who had tuned into see a great
spectacle? Ought these genuine non-contest concerns to have influenced his judgement?
What should trump here? It is not even clear on consequentialist grounds that the
suffering of a few Spanish players should mitigate the interest created by the spectacle. Or
is the heterogeneous ethic of football to be brought into commensurability by a set of first
236 MIKE McNAMEE
duties to the health of the participants? Phronesis, without the benefit of replays, or even
time for reflection, is no easy matter. Even with the benefit of reflection and commentary
from many quarters it is far from clear that Mr Webb made a series of bad decisions, even if
the leniency afforded Nigel de Jong – the villain of the piece – was culpable.
Let us return, though, to sports jurisprudence. Certainly Mr de Jong’s assault on Xabi
Alonso will earn him infamy in the history of world cup football. But how should we view
the laws regarding the finality of the referee’s decision (Law 5) when under Law 12 ‘A
player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven
offences [only the first two are listed here]: serious foul play; violent conduct . . .’6
For the purposes of debate let us agree that de Jong’s chest-high, studs-first contact
(I cannot conceive of it as a ‘tackle’) unproblematically merits the first two descriptions
under which he should have been sent off.7 But what is the force of the word ‘should’ in
this context? In rugby, the referee cannot be wrong, in formalistic terms, since (s)he is,
under rugby union’s laws, 6.A.4, ‘is the sole judge of fact and of Law during a match’.8 By
way of analogue, then, under rugby union’s laws such an act could not have been either
violent or serious foul play since the referee did not deem it so (and s/he is sole arbiter of
fact and law). But football’s laws do not prescribe the absolute powers of the rugby union
referee. Rather they merely say, as noted above, that their decision is ‘final’. Quite what this
means is not clear. Perhaps there is need for sporting jurisprudence here, which I am not
competent to offer. Nevertheless, it strikes me that a rule declaring the finality of decisions
made by football referees may be to stipulate the only practicable method of dispute
resolution for the incompetence of referees or their uneven-handedness (in which case
‘what happens in cases of bribery?’ one might ask). None of this is intended to derogate
the officiating fraternity who largely do a wonderful job, often voluntarily and, in the case
of professional sport, for a pittance of the pay of – but under much of the same pressure to
perform as – those whose conduct they regulate.
Might the ruling and implications of rugby union’s laws – that the referee be sole
arbiter of fact and law – be more palatable even at the price of being deeply counter-
intuitive in the cases of incompetent decisions?9 In rugby union a player when ‘yellow-
carded’ (as opposed to being sent off or ‘red-carded’) must be sent from the field of play
and not return for the subsequent ten minutes of playing time. Given the nature of the
physical contact and conflicts allowable in rugby union, the rule is an effective one both to
deter and to punish. An element of restorative and punitive justice comes into
consideration since the yellow card signals serious misconduct. Anecdotal evidence
suggests that during this time the fully staffed team will score between seven and ten
points against their opposition. In football it is a rare game indeed when ten players will
triumph over eleven. It is possible that in football the ten players may be victorious over
the eleven, but it is an unlikely scenario (though more likely than in rugby union, where
the nature and potential security of possession allow the advantage to be pressed home
more efficiently than in football).
Perhaps the ‘sin-bin’, as it is called in rugby union and in rugby league, should be
incorporated into football. In that way misconduct or foul play deemed to fall below the
standards of a red card, but more serious than the typical yellow-card offence, may be
properly punished without putting officials in the line of fire. Finally, one may query
whether time-wasting and dissent towards an official properly merits the same
punishment as Mr de Jong’s ‘kung fu style’ kick to the chest. But that is material for an
argument on another occasion.
EDITORIAL 237
NOTES
1. I am tempted to write more on the fact that England were denied a legitimate goal. The
referee and his assistant failed to see that England had indeed managed to get the ball
over the goal line for a goal (though almost everyone else saw it clearly passed the line,
before even the replays were offered from various angles) that would have brought them
level at 2–2 with momentum on their side. Anyone with any memory of the 1966 World
Cup final, when England scored the decisive (but not final) goal of the match to go 3–2 up,
will afford a wry smile at the irony here. German supporters might well be forgiven for
thinking the 2010 error something akin to natural justice.
2. http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/generic/81/42/36/lawsofthegame_2010_
11_e.pdf, accessed 10 Oct.

Crie agora seu perfil grátis para visualizar sem restrições.