I was struck by on aspect of the vibrant Six Nations international between Wales and France, namely the acceptance of a key decision.
The Welsh were attacking strongly in the final quarter, pressing back France and a try seemed on the cards.
Referee Matthew Carley had to decide whether an incident in play was a penalty try or he should award a scrum to Wales. He opted for the latter and explained his decision after consulting the TMO.
Now here is the thing. The decision was totally accepted by Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones. Later, in interview, he said we do not pressurise the referee.
That is precisely what happens in soccer.
There would be a cluster of players in the face of the referee, the crowd would be raucous, the referee would be slaughtered in the subsequent phone-ins and social media and – as often as not – the manager weighs in as well.
I am convinced this “tactic” starts with the manager who now has an excuse for defeat other than performance or his set-up of the team.
One of the greatest managers this country has ever produced, Bob Paisley – with 3 European Cups to his credit – freely admitted that early on he gets the pitch to rattle the referee.
There is also the hope that he will even up after a controversial decision.
It’s not narrow bias in favour of Fulham that persuades Alan Tanner that in the absence of VAR, Championship refs can be pressurised to alter (or maintain) a decision by being hassled.
I have seen these games too and it’s a frequent tactic.
I would still rather watch a game of football than rugby for its fluidity, skill and excitement, but soccer should follow Brian Clough who fined his players if they importuned the match officials.