Thursday 22 March 2018

Ref issue not going away

John Greene

John Greene

It has been a bad few years for the GAA's referees. The latest television images of a crowd trying to physically accost a referee after a match should be the last straw.

Of all the things wrong in football and hurling right now this has to be put top of the list.

The GAA cannot hide any longer behind the fact that, firstly, there has been a worrying slide in the standard of its referees at all levels; secondly, that the system of appointing officials to games is in need of overhaul and, thirdly, that people who attend games too often see nothing wrong in extreme verbal abuse and, alarmingly, physical intimidation of referees.

Last week's report findings that referees in inter-county championship games can run up to 12km a game should be another cause for concern. This is on a par with what a soccer player might run over the course of a 90-minute game. Unless a referee is super-fit, can we be certain that tiredness towards the end of a game is not affecting his judgement?

The GAA really needs to start grappling with this issue in a meaningful way. The playing rules for football and hurling need to be simplified, referees need to be well trained, their workload on the field needs to be reduced by giving greater powers to their assistants (umpires and linesmen), they need to be protected, and be able to do their job without the threat of intimidation.

Sunday Indo Sport

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