Random Thoughts

Manchester United vs Chelsea: The Burden of Being Human

This weekend was a particularly bad day for referees in the Premier League. Sunday saw the heavyweight clash of Manchester United versus Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a place where United had failed, and failed miserably sometimes, to get 3 points for the last decade (now that I come to think of it, they last won there before I started watching football).

Fernando Torres falls after a brush with Jonny Evans. A Dive?

No revenge of the fallen. A booking and an early exit instead.

Anyways, this post is being written for a very specific reason: Asking you, were Mark Clattenburg’s decisions really so horrible? I would like to make some points to this effect:

1. Torres’ kung-fu kick on Tom Cleverley (GIF Here)
That awesome piece of marshal arts deserved an awesomely designed rectangular piece of “Tarjeta Roja” If I was a referee (or if you were one), I’d have given him a Red. There are instances when a player has to take the walk for doing something like that on a pitch. There are also instances where the player has to end his season for doing something like that off the pitch.

2. Ivanovic’s red card
I had hoped most people will not contest this, but I still find people crying about the unfairness of this world and for them, I would like to point out that that decision was more or less a no-brainer. Ivanovic has contact with Young, and albeit Young is a very good diver himself, Ivanovic didn’t stand a chance of staying on the field once the ref had spotted the foul. It was a professional foul, a last-hope foul when there was a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The red was fair.

3. Torres’ sending off
If you ask me, I won’t deny it. If you ask Johnny Evans, he won’t deny it

“At the time I didn’t feel like I’d made contact but I’ve seen it again and there was a bit of contact.”

If you watch the video, it won’t deny it either. But you need to watch that video much more carefully.
Then rewind.
Then watch again.

Then rewind.
Then watch again.

Then rewind.
Then watch again.

Then, you’ll see that although Evans did make contact, did not affect Torres’ momentum at all. But once the contact was made, Torres reacted (late). and decided to take the dive. The ref saw that and punished it with a yellow. The fact that he was already on a yellow (see #1), and Ivanovic’s dismissal (#2), the situation was aggravated. A LOT !!!!

4. And of course, Chica’s offside. Again, no denying the facts, cuz there is instant analysis of all offsides by the Andy Grays and Martin Tylers et al. of the commentating world. So there is no case to be made here. The linesman made a hash of it. But then again, offside goals have been a mainstay of Premier League games for a long time. And not just EPL, but all of football is riddled with cases of offside goals. So why target Clattenburg so vociferously for this?
After all, Chelsea can’t say they didn’t have this goal coming

The thing to take back from all this is again the same as all the blogs and news articles out there: Football would become a bit more fairer with the help of technology. But there is a disconnect in the way people perceive the benefits of technology. For a growing fan-base of football, who have been on a staple diet of the FIFA franchise (and PES), the idea that an error can be made on the field is unimaginable. Their brains can not process the fact that there are HUMANS judging the match, and not some piece of code which can instantly point out an offside. Surely the game developers should be punished for making such a good referees? But In real life, why do the referees find themselves being reviled so much?

If a player dives, and the ref gives a foul,
Blame the ref
If a player dives, and the ref does NOT give a foul,
Blame the ref
If a player dives, and the ref punishes HIM,
Blame the ref
What the hell should the ref do?

The divers and cheats on the field have broken the mutual trust the players and referee had, and that has led to a rapid decline in the quality of decisions. Should it not be the divers who should be punished, even retrospectively? I’m with David Moyes on this, not that he does not enjoy an occasional dive 😛

Also to note is the fact that not everyone understands the technology as well as others do, and getting used to the fact that robots are ruling the field can also make the adoption of technology much more difficult.

I for one, would like to see technology being used for judging diving and goal-line cases, but the referee should not be made redundant by this move. Technology is only a tool. It is not a panacea. Technology has its own failings.

Technology is only as good as it’s programmers.
Programmers who are are, after all, human.
PS: I did not include the part about the racial abuse, because there is NO public evidence which I can find, which would add to the discussion in any constructive way. All I can find are inconclusive slo-mo videos of Clattenburg moving his mouth saying, seemingly, benign stuff.

Update: I am a Man Utd fan, so you can say that I’m biased towards proving Clattenburg right (although I’m not, atleast not consciously)
I’d like to point you to this rather well researched piece by Sportlobster, where you’ll get a stark contrast to this post.
I’d recommend you read that too, and instead of just mudslinging, sit down think seriously about the issue (if you are interested in this issue, of course)


2 thoughts on “Manchester United vs Chelsea: The Burden of Being Human

  1. Pratikshit says:

    Love the article..but despite being a Utd fan, I’d have preferred that Utd wouldn’t have given up the 2 goal lead rather than rely on decisions that would have gone the other way just as easily. Have to admit that the rub of the green has been in Utd’s favour lately..

    • Kumar Harsh says:

      Yeah, I’d agree on the rub of green comment. But I view that as more based on the luck factor than a concerted effort by FA and UEFA to make United the champions.

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