The Mitrovic incident on Sunday in England has raised the debate in regards to referees and the lack of respect shown by footballers across the globe in comparison to other sports such as rugby, tennis or even American football. Whilst I agree globally the referee issue is a very important one, here in Cambodia its not respect the referees need, it’s support!
Cambodian referees are respected…….
Cambodian referees, for the most part, are respected and the players in the field generally respect decisions that are made and show very little descent. It’s not because they agree but Khmers do respect authority and the referee is the boss during that 90 minutes. Any disagreements are usually coming from foreign players and coaches. I’ve been one of the worst coaches for my treatment of officials during games but have always gone straight to the referees room after the game and said thank you and shook hands. A week later I always greet referees with a smile and have never held a grudge.
Referees are vital for development of the game……
There are three absolute essentials that have to be in place to develop the game in ANY country. Number two on the list is quality refereeing. I have been accused of blaming referees for losing football matches which I can tell you here and now has never happened. However I have been heavily critical of the standard. There is such a small number of referees that they know there is no consequences to their performance. There is so much football at all levels that there is no time to train and educate them further. Not for one second do I believe referees are purposely making bad decisions but most have never played the game at a high level so don’t understand the things that can happen and should be let go. From the top down there needs to be clear format to follow and rules that everyone knows. My frustration last season came from there being one way to do things one week then the following week it changed. Not the referees fault. This comes from there being no clear instruction. One referees interpretation of something of a process or rule is different to mine and other referees. There can be no interpretation when it comes to the processes and rules of the game.
How to support the referees……
First and foremost pay them more and make it a professional career. Give them more training and the tools to actually become better. Every player both men and women should at U18 level be made to take the first certificate and make it a mandatory requirement that clubs are producing 10 referees every season. At Next Step this is a requirement of all our players as well as other areas of the industry.
Long term the eco system pays for itself but the one point remains clear that quality refereeing and procedures are vital to improving the game in Cambodia. Let’s do it now!
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