Second Draft | Association Football | Referee

Moh 1 Hensley Moh English 110 Marion Bruner 11/28/2011 Research Paper Once In A Lifetime After doing some

research and interviewing different sources, some issues were found faced by soccer players and teams due to favoritism. There are many different ways in which favoritism is shown; particularly in the role of referees. Referees are the ones who predict the way the match starts and ends, sometimes known as “the Twelfth Man”. Their decisions are always final, meaning when they make a decision it can no longer be changed even if they are wrong. After going through some insider reviews of the biasness of referees, there are many reasons that cause them to make some decisions in favor of one team and to the detriment of the opponent team. There have been situations where teams were suspected of having some connections with referees in order to get favorable decisions. As in the movie “ Once in a life time” where the Cosmos team was denied a couple of goals in very crucial matches leading to the loss of many American fans. The fans felt like there was no need watching a sports game which involved a lot of errors and wrong decisions. Having so much wrong decisions in matches was one of many reasons that led to the decrease in the credibility of soccer. There have been a lot of debates in refereeing decisions regarding injury time to be added at the end of a match. In principle, this time should be given to compensate for time lost for player injuries, player substitutions, yellow and red cards, protests and other wastes of time (FIFA, The Official Laws of the Game). The existence of a problem with the injury time decision is confirmed by the ruling by FIFA which, in 1998, in order to limit

Moh 2 referees’ discretion, established that referees have to announce publicly at the end of normal time the minutes of extra time to be played( Scoppa, Vincenzo, Aug 2008). There have been several occasions where complaints have been made regarding referees decisions between home and visiting teams or between “big” and “small” teams. There is no doubt that favoritism towards a home team is certainly due to social pressure from the crowd in a stadium noisily supporting the home team. Referees are human beings who as shown by a series of psychological studies can be subconsciously influenced by the noise of a large crowd in the stadium who react to strange decisions by yelling and protesting(( Scoppa, Vincenzo, Aug 2008). Referees have been accused of favoring “big” teams who have economic and media power off the field. Just like in May 2006 when top teams in Serie A like Milan, Lazio, Reggina were accused of trying to appoint favorable referees for their matches and put pressure on them during their matches. Soccer experts make more foul calls when action moved right-to-left, or leftward, compared to left-to-right or rightward action, in the sense that two referees watching the same play from different angles or points may be inclined to make different calls. In the Penn study of twelve members of the University of Pennsylvania’s varsity soccer teams, researchers found that participants viewing the soccer plays were more likely to call a foul when seeing a right-to-left attack. Therefore, if the spatial biases observed in this group of soccer players who had different views have similar effects on referees in real matches, they may influence particular officials differently: referees on the field will more frequently be in positions that lower their threshold for calling fouls during an attack, compared to assistant referees working the line (Kim Guenther, July 2010). Lines men and referees usually have different views of left-to-right or right-to-left attacking plays. This may be unfair towards one team that goes into half time with a lead and the referees switch to a right diagonal system in the second half, favoring both defences. Referees viewing leftward action may be more likely to see a foul when no foul was actually committed. An example was seen in the match between the U.S and Slovenia at the World

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Cup of 2010, where the referee denied what could have been the U.S team’s third goal against Slovenia. These kinds of decisions can cause a match to take a different dimension. The fact is that it is typically impossible to access whether the decisions in question are just or unjust. Looking at the Cosmos match of the quarter finals where the referee gave two minutes of injury time which was quite confusing even to the opponents themselves. After all the yellow and red cards given and the wastage of time which could sum up to about 6 minutes, the referee gave less than half of it as additional time. Yet, professional soccer games have the advantage that there is a decision that referees take that is suitable for better testing of favoritism which is the amount of injury time that they add at the end of each game. Generally, on average, referees add 3 minutes to the end of a game. After some investigations and experiments, it was predicted that when visitors score, the injury time is 15% longer than when a home team scores (Garicano, Ignacio, Canice, May, 2005). This means referees are more speedy in blowing the whistle for the end of a game if the home team scores thus giving the visitors less time to react or respond, than if the visitors score and vice versa. Referees can be biased on responding to goals in extra time depending on who scores. For example, if the home team scores, a referee will be more likely to signal an end to the game, whereas if the away team scores the referee will more likely extend the game providing some hope for the home team to respond. All this is usually due to the pressure referees get from the crowds especially when the crowds are to closed to the stadium. Another cause of the response of referees towards teams is also when getting to the end of a tournament. For example, if a team needs a point or goal to qualify to the next level or win a competition and the other team has no hopes of moving to the next level because of the number of points they have, referees in some cases end up favoring the team that needs a point or goal to advance to the next level.

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Referees sometimes make wrong decisions when it comes to contacts between players. Some referees are influenced by the display of the players most especially during physical contacts claiming to be pushed or even injured. Referees then give yellow and red cards to innocent players changing the atmosphere of the game totally. This problem has caused so much conflicts between teams recently because of the kinds of fake claims displayed by soccer players in the sense of being pushed, kicked or over-pressurized. Referees still make wrong decisions with offsides. A referee blows the whistle for offside when the ball is passed to a player who is behind the opponent’s last defender. Referees are known for making errors in deciding if there was an offside or not even after the implementation of additional soccer assistant referees. Some of the factors listed above may be the cause of bad decisions taken by the referees. Decisions based on individual perceptions are uncertain because they rely on sensory evidence that is corrupted by noise. In order to improve the final decisions, soccer assistant referees have to be able to communicate with the main referee for better results. Joint decisions are usually better than individual decisions, but according to some scientists, performance on joint decisions are not always better( Bahrami et al, 2010). It is true that decisions can not always be correct, but they can be improved. An extra referee should be added at the back of each pole for better decisions when it comes to offsides especially. Some leagues already do this, but it should be made everywhere too. To reduce the pressure faced by referees by noisy crowds, seats for spectators should be placed some distance away from the main field. This can partially stop the social pressure which usually leads to favoritism and bad decisions. Referees in the U.S are now given a little more intense training to avoid some of such situations which is working pretty well when you try to compare the mistakes made by referees from other countries.

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Works Cited

Bahrami.B et al.. Science 329, 1081 (2010)
FIFA, Federation Internationale de Football Association. The Official laws of . the Game ( Chicago; Triumph Books 2000).

Ghasemi A, Momeni M, Jafazadephur E, Rezaee M, Taheri H. Visual skills involved in . decision making by expert referees. Feb2011, Vol. 112 Issue 1, Premier Ipswich,MA. Kim Guenther, Luis Garicano, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta and Canice Prendergast. University of . Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Fouls Go Left. Favoritism under Social pressure . The . Review of Economics and Statistics , Vol. 87, No. 2 (May, 2005). The MIT Press. Scoppa, Vincenzo. An econometric analysis of soccer referee decisions.Empirical Economics; . Aug2008, Vol. 35

Interview Questions When did you start your career as a soccer referee? What social issues did you face as a soccer referee? Were there incidents in any match in your career where you were forced to stop the match before or after the actual stoppage time? Have you been influenced by any team before the day of the match in order for you to favor them? How often have you made wrong decisions on occasions like offsides, penalty kicks, free kicks and corners? Have you and the other referees ever contradicted yourselves in a match? If so, what was the main reason for such contradictions? Have you been pressurized during matches? If so, why did you have such pressure on you while on the field and what was the cause of this sudden pressure? Which rules have been made by the Federations towards refereeing which you are not in favor of? What do you think can be done to reduce the rate at which mistakes are been made in soccer matches?

Contact: Name: Teboh Carlson Address: 9122 Unbridle Lane Waxhaw, NC Email:

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