Friday, May 22, 2009

It was good to read today that UEFA have finally announced that they are charging the Chelsea pair of Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa following their actions after the Champions League defeat by Barcelona earlier this month.

How only two players are being charged and not Michael Ballack, and to a lesser extent John Terry and Alex, is a mystery to us here though.

The case will be dealt with on June 17th and hopefully the pair of them will have the book thrown at them.

You have to ask though what is the point? Will it stop these players, especially Drogba from acting the same way again? Probably not. Will it stop other players haranguing referees in the future, again, probably not.

Drogba is being charged for his shocking after match meltdown where he verbally abused the referee and ranted to TV cameras and although he picked up a booking for his antics, they continued for a long time afterwards unpunished.

Bosingwa's charge relates to comments he made in a Portugese paper after the event where he asked if the referee was a "thief".

Both players have since issued apologies and have been very contrite about proceedings. All very well and good but the damage has been done by that point. It's easy to apologise after the fact.

Once actions like Drogbas have been seen on the pitch and comments like Bosingwas read in the press, these are the things that stick in people's minds. These are things that people remember, not apologies. And these are things which fan the flames of hatred in the fans and affect referee's safety, integrity and reputation.

Chelsea have also been charged with the failure to protect the referee, control of their players and for objects thrown on the pitch. A fine or whatever that will be imposed, will not help Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo feel better about the death threats he received.

Now I'm no angel here. I've shouted more than my fair share of abuse at officials over the years, but I acknowledge it's a difficult job, everyone makes mistakes and the game couldn't take place without them. TV coverage and analysis of every little thing the referees do by the so called experts in the studio and gantry only act to add more pressure on the officials.

The whole "respect" campaign is a joke as players still go unpunished and get away with far too much.

What can be done to change all of this?

Well no easy solutions, as it's easy to get hot headed in situations I'll admit, but one good place to start would be by punishing the actions there and then on the pitch.

If UEFA and FIFA really want to clamp down on the abuse of officials then they should make it a law that any player who crowds the referee or linesmen and gets in their face to challenge any decision gets a yellow card immediately and if they keep it up then a red.

There should be a zero tolerance rule of this abuse and referees strong enough to enforce it.

Be interesting to see how many players from Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United (to use just UK examples) swarm the referee then when they could soon be finding themselves having an early bath.


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