Jose Mourinho made an infamous appearance on last week’s Goals on Sunday, furiously criticizing referees in the Premier League amid Chelsea’s controversial 1-1 draw against Burnley. He may have had a point as statistics show that Chelsea are awarded a penalty every 1.8 games in UEFA fixtures, but just once every 13 matches in the Premier League. But whether you agree with Mourinho’s comments or you think he has just spat his dummy out – the impact referees have on the sport is, quite evidently, tremendous.
In my playing days I would hate matches where referees were under the illusion that the game was all about them. As one of the world’s most popular forms of entertainment, the beautiful game should always be fun for the players and fun to watch for the thousands of people at the ground and sat behind their TVs at home. But too often referees would spoil the fun by abusing the power that lies in their pockets.
Some referees would actually say, “don’t talk to me!” when I tried to approach them as team captain.
Really? I’m not allowed to talk to the person who is in charge of supervising the game. Why are you even here, referee?
This is of course frustrating for players, but more importantly it thrusts a sombre atmosphere on the match. Some referees can impose the opposite effect though – Pierluigi Collini springing to mind. He would make jokes with players, while still demanding the upmost respect, and the game would be much more enjoyable as a result.