Should domestic leagues have foreign referees?

February 27, 2008

Collina’s famous glareWhen Pierluigi Collina reached the Italian referee retirement age a few years back, there was talk of bringing him to England so he could officiate a bit longer and boost the standard.

The idea of the bald great going eyeball to eyeball with Wayne Rooney and John Terry appealed to many, but it never came close to happening, not least because the world’s best official became the Italian referees’ chief.

Now the boot is on the other foot, and it is the Italians who are crying out for foreign referees to come to Serie A. Several officials were either struck off or put off during the 2006 match-fixing scandal, which involved some teams procuring favourable referees.

AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani and Juventus chairman Giovanni Cobolli Gigli say Italy’s current crop of referees are therefore too inexperienced and make too many errors. They think the league should draft in foreign officials to reduce the number of controversial decisions seen this season. Some Italians, haunted by the match-fixing affair, would like to have foreign referees full stop so that any accusation of an official being a ‘homer’ could be dismissed.

Could this plan work in the whole of Europe? We have impartial referess for international and European club matches so why not in league games?

English fans complain it is nearly impossible for away teams to get a penalty at Old Trafford in the Premier League but several have been awarded against Manchester United in the Champions League. 

Collina has rejected the idea, saying Italian referees remain some of the best in the world. For once he is being ignored and Wednesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport listed Germany’s Herbert Fandel and England’s Howard Webb among a list of top officials it would like to see in Italy.

However, this begs the question: which poor country would take the Italian referees?

Mark Meadows, Milan

PHOTO: Pierluigi Collina glares at former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman as he books him during a Champions League match with Barcelona, March 8, 2005 REUTERS/Mike Finn-Kelcey

5 comments

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[...] Foreign referees in Italy? [Reuters Soccer Blog] [...]

[...] Foreign referees in domestic leagues? (Reuters Soccer Blog) [...]

A lot of these ideas spring from sour grapes, in my personal opinion. What makes them think that foreign referees won’t be as biased as the local ones, once they have been afforded the same treatment by the clubs in question?

[...] Meadows of the Reuters Soccer blog talks about how the AC Milan and Juve chairmen have floated the idea that foreign referees should be [...]

Quite sensible of Collina to reject the idea. I doubt if foreign referees will result in more impartial decisions.

Even if we do see an improvement at the beginning, there is no guarantee the referees will be untainted in the long run.

what’s sad is that people seem to agree referees are ‘tainted’ if they officiate in a league for a while. Collina never was (although some Italians would dispute that.)
What do people mean by tainted? Apart from the match fixing affair and the German ref no one has accused them of outright cheating lately. What Italians worry is that referees are under ‘psychological pressure’ in certain matches. I used to be a parks referee and the temptation to even out a decision you realise you got wrong is hard to resist.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

what about the value of importing refs from countries outside the top leagues so that they’re not as terrible during european/world competitions?

Posted by clement | Report as abusive

[...] The referees didn’t do a particularly stelar job in the Bundesliga lately, so if Italy want them, they can have them. (Reuters Soccer Blog) [...]

Perhaps if foreign referee’s were drafted in to country’s where the level of officiating is seen as deteriorating, for a short period of time, the standard of the referee’s would improve.
That wouldn’t mean that these officials would be permanently based in any particular Country, just there as an aid to help for a short period of time.
Or a scheme could be set up as it is in England to nurture young inexperienced referee’s and deepens their knowledge of their duties and the pressures even before they set foot on a football field.