Referee abuse reflects the blame culture in modern society
- Credit: Richard Land/Focus Images Ltd
They say sport is often a reflection of society.
I believe this to be the case when it comes to abuse of football referees, which is an ongoing problem in the game.
A few weeks ago we reported on the startling abuse football referees across Norfolk face on a regular basis.
Norfolk's referees say barely a week goes by without an official experiencing some form of abuse, including threats and, in rare cases, physical assaults by players, coaches or even supporters.
Many football fans are guilty of shouting a few choice words at the referee on the television when we're down the pub, but as a keen amateur footballer myself, I find the level and regularity of abuse reported on sadly unsurprising.
Passion in football is to be encouraged and there have been occasions where I've showed frustration at decisions towards referees, although never in a threatening or intimidating way.
It's when you see teams spend the entire 90 minutes berating referees, often for perfectly correct decisions, that it gets to me.
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Surely people giving up a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday morning to play amateur football, while playing to win, are there for the love of the game.
To give up part of your weekend to shout and swear at someone doing their best for little financial gain, is just bizarre.
There is a refereeing crisis in grassroots football and sometimes it's not hard to see why.
It's not uncommon for matches to go without a qualified referee, with the home team having to put a volunteer forward. This is also a big problem in youth football.
Sometimes parents try to live their own failed dreams through their children. They put far too much pressure on the kids, who should only be concerned with enjoyment of the game, and set a bad example by berating referees from the sidelines.
The behaviour of some professionals, who are supposed to be role models, also sends out the wrong message to young players.
And to see pundits spend so much time dissecting refereeing decisions, when we could be admiring some of the brilliant football on show, adds to that culture. It's a point the great Brian Clough famously took up with John Motson in a legendary interview in 1979.
In my view, this reflects the blame culture that exists within society.
Instead of taking responsibility to try and win, in football or in life, some prefer to find an excuse, or someone to blame.
In football, referees are often the targets.
Referees are essential to football, at all levels. Without them, we have no game.
It's time to get some perspective and give them a break.