For about one hour Chelsea’s game against Manchester United yesterday was an entertaining game and very much an example for why the Premier League is called the Best Football League in the World (most accordingly to itself and their people involved). But after the final whistle by referee Mark Clattenburg I am not so sure any more about that.
The football society together with the ‘social’ community Twitter involved in it is on a steep downfall and yesterday you could see, read and feel how witch-hunting worked in the so-called Dark Ages.
It’s all about wrong decision making and racial abuse. The first brought to attention by at least five different camera angles and slow-motion views the referee doesn’t have but the supporters and the pundits in the stadium, in the studio and at home. As for the Chelsea vs Manchester United game there were four situations Mark Clattenburg and his team had to make their decision within seconds. First there was Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea who was the last man that brought down Ashley Young just before the penalty area. It’s the rules that Clattenburg had no choice but to reward him a straight red card for it and he did. There was no controversy in it. Perhaps there was a bit of controversy when the same player brought down Patrice Evra on the touchline early in the first half when he got away with it without being booked. But that was in favour of Chelsea.
Second there were the two bookings for Fernando Torres. The first booking was a bit soft for not a very hard foul but sometimes throughout the whole game there are a few tiny incidents that lead to a booking not just one major incident. You have to re-watch the whole game until Torres was sent off to reiterate the referee’s decision. The controversy took place when Clattenburg sent off Torres with a second booking for diving and I think he was right on this one. It’s becoming obvious while watching football games in England during the last couple of weeks that referees are told to be more in dubio pro reo when it comes to challenges from defenders on forwards. Too often in past and present forwards like to fall over very fast and make a meal of the slightest touches by defenders. So perhaps the referees need to book a forward not only when they recognise a ‘real’ dive (i.e. there was no touching at all from the defender) but also when the forward might go on after a soft touch. If that’s so then life was made even harder for referees because they now have to judge more than ever if the fall over was a result by the touch or because the forward wanted to fall. In Torres’ case there was a slight touch by Evans but the Chelsea forward had made too much of it in Clattenburg’s eyes. Maybe he not only had the option to book him but to award him a strong warning not to do it again. But again: making a dive causes a booking so in my eyes Clattenburg was right here. In fact this would have been Torres’ last action on the pitch anyway because Danny Sturridge was about to come on for him. The whole situation was unlucky throughout.
Third and just two minutes after Torres was sent off Wayne Rooney challenged Ashley Cole unfairly. Rooney like Torres was on a yellow card and Chelsea supporters in the stadium felt he also deserved a second booking – like Torres. But this time Clattenburg decided to leave it at that. Alex Ferguson reacted straight afterwards with taking Rooney off the pitch to avoid a second booking any time soon. Here I think Clattenburg was wrong. The second challenge Rooney made was equally bad than his first one so he hasn’t learnt from the first one and should have been sent off. That was in favour to Manchester United but with the decision in favour to Chelsea in the first half justice was done so far in the game.
The most important controversy came again just two minutes after Rooney was substituted: Manchester United’s third goal. In every other major sport on this planet the referee would be allowed to re-watch it to decide if it was offside or wasn’t because there were so many players involved and with first sight it was almost impossible to decide whether it was regular or not. First van Persie’s shot was just saved by Petr Cech but only inches away so Xavier Hernandez came forward just to find himself into the goal after the ball was somehow cleared away by Cech. But he kicked the ball directly to Rafael who took a cross back into the penalty area. Meanwhile Hernandez was on his way back out of the goal and perhaps was offside for the glimpse of a second. With all the camera views and repeated slow-motions I have only recognised it after a while. But there is the referee and his linesman in front of more than 40,000 supporters. They know that their chance to see what happened is gone and they have to make a decision also in a glimpse of a second. It’s a 50 / 50 chance to get it right and the reaction from the Chelsea players after the goal was given suggests that they also haven’t seen the offside. When Cech saved the initial shot from van Persie the whole Chelsea defence was just standing and looking to Cech, praying and hoping that he would do his job while they didn’t fulfil their’s. It took felt minutes for them to come back but then it was too late.
So in the end we have a controversial goal in favour to Manchester United that every other referee without the help of video footage wouldn’t have judged 100% sure. And we have a sending off for Torres for diving that left Chelsea with nine men against eleven of Manchester United.
These were the controversies in the game but after the game Chelsea have made a formal complaint against Mark Clattenburg. Not because of his decisions in the game but of him allegedly using ‘inappropriate language’ towards two of their players. I don’t want Chelsea to insinuate anything but to accuse someone for racial abuse seems to be effective to get rid of someone these days. And the so-called shit-storm on Mark Clattenburg on Twitter yesterday and today reminds me very strongly on the witch-hunt in the middle Ages. The rule of law that someone is considered innocent until proven guilty seems long forgotten not just in the football society but in the human society itself.
There are some football players who earn millions per anno that seem to think that they are given the God-given right to get special treatment. But also without handing them too much money for their ‘job’ they think they can throw any verbal abuse towards the referees. In contrary the supporters who buy the tickets think they have bought the right to abuse the players when they don’t perform despite the money they earn. In whole there is so much bad language involved in stadia that there would be empty crowds and no single player on the pitch if everyone who ever used bad language would be banned.
But instead it’s always one scapegoat who is punished massively with the powers that be think that this one example would make better the whole society. But it’s nothing like that. It’s just getting worse. Now that Mark Clattenburg was accused to have made a racial comment towards John Obi Mikel the felt whole Twitter society tweeted their ‘anger’ and ‘disgust’ about him. But the point is that they only feel save behind their internet anonymity and they feel lifted in the mass. Probably they feel like they have done something good when writing some 140-digits containing message against Mark Clattenburg. In reality they don’t have a job or a girlfriend or anything different they feel ashamed or not worth living but with being against Mark Clattenburg they can feel as part of this warm Twitter society. Hurray! I am part of something big so I am not useless.
If Mark Clattenburg indeed said something racial abusing towards coloured Chelsea players it’s also about what exactly he said. I have heard that he called Mikel a ‘monkey’. What for or as a repeat to what I don’t know. Just a question: Sometimes I also call someone a monkey (not for real, I just think about it or taunt the TV with that word) but I use this word for coloured people as will as for whites or yellow or red or any other skin coloured people. For me this word isn’t a racial abuse because I don’t think that dark coloured people look like apes. With this word I just refer to the single-minded personality of someone or that someone acts stupid or something like that. So when I define the vocabulary ‘monkey’ like that do I use it as ‘racial’ abuse? As for me I don’t think so. And as for other vocabulary that can be used racially: is there a catalogue what you don’t have to call people to avoid a witch-hunt towards your own person?
I think it’s very obvious that I like Mark Clattenburg but I also like justice and a friendly society. I like supporters who respect the players and the referee on the pitch. I like players who respect their supporters and the referee. And I like referees who respect the players and the supporters of the players. I don’t like it when supporters just come to the games to let out their frustrations at home or at work. I don’t like it when players try to cheat and force the referee to wrong decisions and to confront and accuse him on the pitch for every single decision. And I don’t like it that referees don’t get the help from video footage every other single person can have a look on while he has to decide within the glimpse of a second.
People like to say that football is just a game but nowadays it isn’t anymore. It’s business so every decision can cost ten thousands of Pounds or Euro or whatever currency. The referee these days needs to be 100% sure but he still is a human being so he can’t be better than the technical eye. Video proof has to come as well as a friendlier football society. Video proof will come but on the friendlier football society I’m not sure.