Too Often The Outcome In Sports Is Down To Bad Referees


If only sports provided genuine competition. What a beautiful thing that would be. One team against another in a particular field of play. The best team wins. But that is not reality. Reality is filled with financial strings tied to Vegas and Macau. It’s filled with compromised referees, compromised commentators, compromised players and compromised managers. Even the fans are compromised.

Today’s BPL football match at Vicarage Road between Watford and Arsenal was a stark reminder that victory and defeat does not hang on level of play or fortune; but on a narrative told by commentators and executed by referees. The stage was set. Troy Deeney, Watford legend (and expert penalty taker) comes off the bench to try to rescue his team from a dire situation. They were deservedly trailing to an Arsenal team, that had largely outplayed them. They hadn’t even managed a shot at goal up to that point in the match and hadn’t looked like they would throughout the entire ninety.

Referees Intervene To Decide Watford vs Arsenal

Deeney comes on in the 63rd minute. 8 minutes later he scored from guess what: a dubious penalty that referee Neil Swarbrick, did not hesitate to give. Richarlison’s obvious dive, not so obvious to either referee or commentator.

Even with clear evidence of a dive shown in replay after replay; the commentators were comfortable spinning their web of deceptive narrative; to cloud what were obvious visual facts. “Bellerin’s nibble (his non-challenge as the replays showed); was enough to convince the referee to give it.” “I’m sure Mr. Wenger [Arsenal’s manager] will think the penalty shouldn’t have been given but there was contact”; is how their narrative went at first.

They were clearly conditioning the television audience to believe that it was really a penalty; even though everyone could see on the replays that it was not. They were also turning the audience against Mr. Wenger by supposing his opinion on the matter would be different to their own. Of course given Wenger’s “whingeing” reputation; it must have been a penalty, simply because he didn’t think it was. A dastardly tactic carried out by a commentary team well versed in fan manipulation.

No accountability for corrupt commentary

That was the commentary immediately after the penalty was given and then scored. Close to the end of the (fixed) match, the commentators completely changed their opinion; without even acknowledging the one they’d had immediately following the penalty decision. They decided to concede that Richarlison “may have gone to ground easily”; and that Arsenal “may have reason to feel hard done by.” This double speak clearly demonstrates that they deliberately covered up the referee’s “mistake” earlier in the match. They knew what was up all along and they were all in on the scam.

Sport is a television show for an audience which largely believes that it is based on real competition. When media personalities are ruing the correct Umpire decision in the Cubs-Nationals baseball game; because it was based on what the replays showed; ought we to expect this cheating culture within the “beautiful game” to be rescued by the advent of video replays? The pundits in baseball heavily criticized a correct call that was made only because of the availability of replays to the Umpire.

Just listen to their football counterparts. Most of them oppose even allowing replays into the game of football. “It’ll ruin the debate”; is how they rationalize their opposition to replays. “There’ll be nothing to talk about after the game.” That’s what they often say. To these people, football and sports in general are not what they want to talk about. They’re just a vehicle to what they really want to discuss, controversy; their bread and butter; just like this match and countless others in every “sport”.

It is time to recognize the facts. Sports aren’t only corrupt because of betting. They are corrupt because they are filled with corrupt commentators, players, referees and managers. They are also filled with corrupt fans, who like the television audiences they are; are happy to go along for the ride as long as the script favours their respective teams.


Dean Nestor

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