It doesn’t matter what level of the game you are at – it is a challenge that there must be fewer and fewer queueing up to take on each year.
At the top of the tree, you have matches with a myriad number of cameras staring at you and watching your every move and decision, for those with the benefit of a thousand replays to berate and debate. “No hiding any more”, we are told on countless phone-ins. “Top-flight referees are now professionals and so should be held accountable for their mistakes”. (So should the bankers of the world, but that hasn’t happened). Still, although professional players will charge the ref down, swear and gesticulate aggressively at decisions where they think they have been wronged – those cameras are on hand again, perhaps like in a late-night town centre, a cctv-like deterrence to any of said actions going too far. (perhaps not - see last summer's English riots).
Further down the food chain, to local Sunday leagues and the like, the referee is not afforded such security – whether or not heated moments progress to anything physical, the intimidation must be real.
Back at the top it’s one, usually ageing, bloke in the middle of a very large pitch, trying to keep up with a new breed of footballing and athletic machines and making instant decisions to incidents as they perceive them. This last week alone has given plenty of ammunition to all those in the game and led us once again to everyone’s favourite debate. Video evidence and goal-line technology.
Gordon Taylor at the PFA had this to say, echoing most people’s views: “In this day and age, the technology is available and we should use it. We’ve got to do all we can to ensure that, in sport, justice is done.” True on the last part, but presumably that will then mean that all the rules are re-written so we can go back and punish those players properly that are seen to be cheating, diving etc. and that red and yellow card offences can be revisited more easily?.....(more on “cheating” to come at another point!)
As you can read above - as a humble grumpy old fan, I don’t have answer to this - sorry Sepp and Michel. Good luck with that. However, neither do I have an answer to why anyone would still want to be a ref...(answers on a postcard)