READER REPORT:

Refs the men in the middle

DERYCK HUMPHRIES
Last updated 10:00 27/06/2014
Peter O'Leary
Getty Images
TOUGH TIMES: Kiwi football referee Peter O'Leary has become public enemy No 1 in Bosnia-Herzegovina after their team's early exit from the World Cup.

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Unfortunately, or fortunately,it doesn't matter what sport you play, sports need referees or umpires to decide if the rules of that particular code are being adhered too.

Even more unfortunate, but perhaps understandably, sometimes they get it wrong.

Leaving aside bribery and corruption, there are simple reasons why sports adjudicators make mistakes, and from hereon I'm speaking from experience, not the comfort of an armchair with a remote control that allows me to watch in hi-def slow motion every single player on the field, at every single moment, from every conceivable angle.

As a ref or umpire, you are only blessed with one pair of eyes. Total range of vision 180 degrees approximately from one side to the other, in perfect conditions.

Factor in the speed of the athletes, the fact that you are also probably running (unless it's tennis or table tennis, in which case you're turning your head from side to side watching a ball move at 160-plus kmh), and the fact that you have only one angle of view to where the ball and players are. It's starting to get a little more complex now isn't it?

Prior to the start of the game, you had both captains trying to get in to your head about interpretations, along with instructions from the sports governing body on which rules they want you to focus on, "oh, and by the way ref, could you keep an eye on the bloody Suarez fella, he keeps biting players".

Here's the kicker: have you ever seen a player miss a pass or two? It's no biggy. Miss a goal once or twice? Again no biggy.

The refereee misses one offside or forward pass and it's: HANG HIM! HE SHOULDN'T BE AT THIS LEVEL! HE COST US THE GAME!

Really? And by that I mean, really?

We should expect a high standard from our sports adjudicators, especially at the highest levels of any game, but please, remember, they're human beings who, even on their best day, can make mistakes.


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