Blogs & Opinion


Give refs a chance

Jeff defends Halsey after Suarez penalty row

Jeff Stelling - Jeff Stelling Posted 27th September 2012 view comments

The time has come for players to start taking a good look at themselves. They really should.

I went to Southampton against Sheffield Wednesday in the Carling Cup this week where Mark Halsey was refereeing following the abuse he received via Twitter for his performance at Anfield at the weekend.

Luis Suarez: jumping before he is pushed?

Luis Suarez: jumping before he is pushed?

After the Anfield game various players claimed that Luis Suarez was not getting penalties because of his reputation. I think it is worth sticking up for Halsey here. There were people in the crowd at Southampton, who may not have even seen that game, saying, "no wonder they had a go at him after the Anfield game".

For what it is worth, Halsey is a good man and one of our best and most approachable referees. He was, generally speaking, in really good positions at Anfield to make those decisions. The problem, as in so many games now, was the players are intent on deceiving him.

If he kept on his feet more often, then when he did go down they might believe him. Suarez would need to be chopped down at the knees now to get a penalty and he has brought that on himself.

Jeff Stelling
Quotes of the week

Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson both said that the penalty awarded to Manchester United last Sunday would not have been awarded to Suarez. Well, right. It is the boy who cried wolf syndrome. If you tumble down in the penalty area every time then of course referees will perceive you in a different way to other players. Of course referees will be more cynical as to whether it is a penalty or not.

If he kept on his feet more often, then when he did go down they might believe him. Suarez would need to be chopped down at the knees now to get a penalty and he has brought that on himself. Referees need more respect, particularly Halsey who was excellent at Southampton. He got virtually nothing wrong.

It is down to the players to give the referees a bit of a chance. We are not just talking about Suarez diving. We have well publicised incidents of players trying to cheat opposition at Chelsea, Manchester United and a host of clubs.

It drives me mad when we have this WWE grappling inside the penalty area at every corner; it drives me crazy when every footballer shouts for a throw-in when he knows full well that it has gone to the opposition. Is it any surprise that occasionally referees are deceived and get things wrong? I just think the players need to take a good look at themselves.

My only advice to Mark Halsey would be to come off Twitter. I do not understand for the life of me why anybody who might attract abuse would be on Twitter.

Crowds are going to go with preconceived ideas of referees and they are going to say he is useless because he has been condemned by certain managers and players.

It is unfair and they are sullying his reputation.

Strong Bond

It was terribly sad to hear that John Bond had passed away this week. Sky Sports re-ran a Times of Our Lives featuring John with Ronnie Boyce and Ken Brown. I sat and watched it again and it was great to see John telling tales of Bobby Moore, Ron Greenwood and a row over a plate of chips with Martin Peters. It brought back memories of what a great raconteur he was. He was ever stylish, ever articulate; a real gentleman of the game and very much missed.

Jeff's Gem of the Week

This week my highlight was Barnsley's 5-0 win over Birmingham. I could not believe what I was seeing on TV. Birmingham were absolutely awful but Barnsley were terrific, even though Keith Hill has not got a brass farthing to spend. They are everybody's favourites to go down, but they scored five and could have scored 10. People might view Barnsley in a slightly different light after that for the rest of the season.

Road to Wembley

This week saw a host of teams take another step towards Wembley with wins in the Capital One Cup but it also saw the launch of another Road to Wembley competition. Les Ferdinand, Mark Bright and I are among the ambassadors for a competition where fans can win a VIP behind-the-scenes trip to Wembley for their team's play-off final.

So if you think your team could reach Wembley and want to go in style, enter at www.prostatecanceruk.org/football for £3 - with at least half of it going straight to Prostate Cancer UK. It is a great cause.

Comments (21)

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Chris Crofts (Liverpool fan) says...

Referees cant be cynical when making decisions. They would be judging the player instead of the offence which is wrong.

Posted 10:42 28th September 2012

Simba Mandiringana (Liverpool fan) says...

Jeff mate, what ever happened to referees making decisions based on what they can see rather than what a players reputation is. He should have seen that there was a foul on Saurez and he should have seen Shelvy shouldnt have been sent off and should have seen that Valencia dived. I agree refrees have a hard job but to defend him after what was such a bad performance is a wee bit strange mate.

Posted 10:23 28th September 2012

Daniel Shipp (Liverpool fan) says...

Suarez is the man to win penalties. he works his way into the box and waits for a defender to mess up. thats how he plays. Suarez has been denied several valid penalty claims within the past year alone. it is due to reputation, but i don't think its the diving... Either way, its discrimination and its not just Halsey to blame

Posted 09:54 28th September 2012

Bhavesh Jogi (Liverpool fan) says...

If what you saying is true and Halsey is a good official. How did he give Man United such a soft penalty? It is about the game changing decisions. He got the Shelvey decision correct as it was reckless and studs up. But then he lets Carrick get away with a yellow which easily could be a red had he not been a United player. The referees are not consistent. Players do not help I agree with your point there and yes they are only human. But the referees can not go on costing teams points and affecting results with game changing decisions. Small errors are one thing however, across the league the incorrect penalties and inconsistency with red card offences has become a growing problem. I am not saying I have a solution as the official is one man with one pair of eyes but let us not make excuses for their obvious mistakes. Instead, just call a mistake a mistake.

Posted 09:42 28th September 2012

Mick Holden (Liverpool fan) says...

No offence Jeff but where in the rules of football does it mention 'the boy who cried wolf syndrome'? A referee should give a foul based on the tackle, not on who is receiving that tackle. If this 'cry wolf syndrome' does exist, does this mean that so-called divers will never be able to get a free-kick or penalty? Does this mean that their opponent can hack away at them and get away scott free? I think every football supporter can name a referee who is biased, and name a game were the referree has made such stupid blunders that they question them. If you want football to stay as the most watched game in sport then make sure it is fair from the start of the 90mins, and not 12-men against 11.

Posted 09:37 28th September 2012

Solomon Mamo (Liverpool fan) says...

If you tumble down in the penalty area every time then of course referees will perceive you in a different way to other players. First of the perfect referee is always free from everything when he make him self ready for the game.whoever is the player or what ever kind of player he is, not matter for the ref on his decision.He has to be closer as much as he can to see what is going on there.If he comes to the game oh...x is a diver,let him dive the whole game he got nothing on the other hand y is not a diver he can get it this is not fair....

Posted 09:32 28th September 2012

Martyn Cripps (Liverpool fan) says...

Hi Jeff Great Blog as usual. With regards to Mark Halsey, no one can deny that he is a top class referee and a really respected guy. However, I do understand that players reputations go before them in a game and referees are well aware, before the KO what they can possibly expect. I am a Liverpool supporter and yes, I know that Luis Saurez goes down easily, but, surely, when a referee goes into a game, he has to clear his mind of the reputations of known villians, and judge the game for the 90 + minutes on its own merit ad through his own eyes, regardless of reputations, this for all matches, and not jut the Liverpool v Man Utd game. Saurez was definately caught in the area, it wasnt a dive this time, and because of previous history doesn't get the decision, and yet, Valencia goes down really easy in the area and gets the decision. This was all compounded though, by the decision to send Jonjo off and not Johnny Evans as well, even though they were both guilty of diving in.

Posted 07:52 28th September 2012

Barry Heaton (Liverpool fan) says...

I agree with your article Jeff except for one point. As a fan all I ask for a referee to call is what he sees, not what he thinks he sees, not what he believes occured based on the player's reaction, or worse, reputation and certainly not what other players are telling him took place. I don't want the referee to be perfect, although that would be great, I just want him to be honest. Mistakes happen in all occupations, referees are no different, but if they are not honest it throws the whole game or sport into disrepute and we as fans are left to question the validity of everything connected with that game or sport.

Posted 00:50 28th September 2012

Pio O' sulliivan (Liverpool fan) says...

True for some of what you were saying but all could see that Valencia dived!!! all could see that the player should not have been sent off and all could see that van persies tackle was awful!! Good Ref or not they was an awful decision!!

Posted 00:29 28th September 2012

Junior Klfc (Liverpool fan) says...

errmm Jeff... right basically suarez will never get a penalty even if he was clearly fouled in the box... referees are paid to give penalties as they see it.. NOT to rule out a penalty decision because the player fouled has/had a reputation... if its a penalty; you are supposed to give a penalty whether the player is a diver or not

Posted 21:19 27th September 2012

Jared Strafford (Sheffield United fan) says...

absolutely spot on Jeff on your remarks about the referees and players. But you forget the fans aswell, every time there was a sliding tackle or a challenge in the box, the fans scream for a red card/penalty. Us the fans need to wake up and put our feet on the ground, get real...

Posted 19:15 27th September 2012

Col M16 (Manchester United fan) says...

Spot on Jeff. The voice of reason !! Suarez dived end of debate. Its a pity the biased idiotic LFC fans cannot take off their rose tinted specs & be honest & admit he dived. If Suarez had twisted his neck any further he,d be looking back to last week !!!!

Posted 18:47 27th September 2012

Nancy Sawicki (Arsenal fan) says...

I watch EPL & CL games here across the pond. There are way too many free kicks given, to a point that you don't know when a player is really injured. Crying wolf as you say spoils an otherwise awesome sport. Your are right on the money in regards to Liverpool's Suarez, he needs to stop going down so easily. If a defender even so much as breates hard in his direction he falls to the ground and is so theatrical about it it's pitiful. Yes, footballers all do it to some extent, but Suarez's falls really take the cake

Posted 17:53 27th September 2012

Adam Barnes (Liverpool fan) says...

The problem is as long as players, as the case with Valencia are awarded for going down easily, players will continue to try to deceive. The only way to stop going down easily in the box is to be absolutely consistent in the decision that it must be a "chopped down at the knees " tackle to award a penalty. This will enrage some that say all too often "if it's a foul outside the box, should be inside as well." Which is the price we pay for "protecting" players and preventing hard challenges outside the area. As long as penalties are given for soft challenges in the box, players will continue to try and win them, so referees should also be taking a hard look at themselves as well.

Posted 17:35 27th September 2012

Perry Williams (Manchester United fan) says...

Well said Jeff. There are a lot of players in the EPL who try and con the refs (including MUFC players). However I find it strange that LFC managers and fans complain so much about decisions going against them. In the last ten years LFC are joint top with penalties being awarded them, and in the history of the EPL have the lowest average red/yellow cards awarded against them. Is Brendan Rodgers trying to influence refs by making his comments public.

Posted 17:22 27th September 2012

Daniel Hodgson (Liverpool fan) says...

I'm a Liverpool fan and completely agree with Jeff here. Suarez is now going to be mentioned in the same breath as all the other well known divers (cheats) such as Young, Drogba, Nani, Busquets, Ronaldo etc. and so he should be. He's earned it. With the way he's been acting during the time he's been here, he's persuaded me that he'd be better taking up another career in acting. He throws himself on the floor like he's been shot, rolls around like a dog doing tricks and I feel embarrassed watching it all unfold. Refs have an impossible job when you have an ever increasing amount of players trying to get one over on the ref or other players, trying to get people sent off, just in general not having the ability to be truthful. There are few footballers that could be seen as a genuine role model for kids now.

Posted 15:18 27th September 2012

Prowieclfc Lfc (Liverpool fan) says...

Well said. Suarez is the worst diver I have seen in football. He has amazing skills and dribbling abilities but I bet if he staid on his feet more often LFC would have more goals scored. Not just slating Suarez here tho, this applies to all divers out there, we know who they are and so do they. I hope that one day, divers will get punished after the game using video replays. YNWA JFT96

Posted 14:57 27th September 2012

Ollie M (Liverpool fan) says...

Jeff, Mark Halsey is not on twitter. The reason he made a complaint is that people on Twitter drew attention to the tweets. If some journalist hadn't found them and retweeted nobody would have ever known. Raises the issue of free speech doesn't it?

Posted 14:54 27th September 2012

Steven Malloy (Liverpool fan) says...

for some reason my comments are never posted! but your saying about suarez, what about welbeck id say hes the biggest diver in the league since drogba has gone he was even diving in an england shirt! and ashley young well everyone knows what hes like

Posted 14:42 27th September 2012

Red Smith (Liverpool fan) says...

So Jeff is basically stating that ref's do referee on reputation rather than the incident....erm..good one..

Posted 14:30 27th September 2012

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