Referees On Strike

The football fields across the Balearics remained silent and empty last weekend. Something we’d got used in Covid times, so why was it happening now? Normally there’d be more than 700 games across the islands from adult teams through to the junior teams. However a strike by our islands referees prevented any games from taking place. The reason for the strike was a series of serious assault incidents in mainly adult games but there was also a call from all the referees about the abuse they were getting in junior games too. 

Now I’m not here to condone anything that involves violence or verbal abuse that is deemed to be over the top to a referee but I wanted to look at this in more detail.

Those that know me know I have two boys who play football, so I’ve been around this for quite a few years now. It’s been reported both in this paper and in the Spanish press that I have seen that this is a common theme at most football matches. Nothing could be further from the truth. Football is a sport that comes with a lot of passion and that is controlled on the pitch by both the players and more importantly by the referee. The best referees are the ones you don’t notice and go about their business with the least fuss. Most players will tell you a referee who banters with you and explains his decisions will get the most respect. The ones who arrogantly run around thinking it’s all about them are the ones who normally get the verbals. Now of course this isn’t just a Spanish problem, verbals have been part of football worldwide way before I was born. 

I was interested to know how much a referee earns to officiate a junior game here in Mallorca. This information was pasted to me by two different clubs. 

Prebenjamin 48€

Benjamin 48€

Alevin 50€ 

Infantil 55€

Cadete 60€ 

Juvenil 65€ 

Liga Nacional 105€

Division Honor 155€

They pay a percentage to the referees association which is part of the FFIB,(the Balearic football federation). I haven’t been able find how much, despite asking the federation. They can do more than one game over the weekend and there are those who also act as linesmen in higher categories too. As part of my email to the Federation I asked about what training is given to a referee. As I said above, I haven’t received a reply. 

I asked a friend in the UK called Ian who is a level 4 referee. He can referee or be a referees assistant(linesman to you and me) up to National League level. I told him about the strike and asked what it was like in the UK. 

“Youth referees get around £30 and there alot of under 18 refs (new refs 15,16,17 yr oids). Senior referees in teams of 3 get around £53 each in Non league county level.

Isthmian League and national league south is referee level 4 upwards and money goes up as you get travel too, so can be £70

Training here for a new referee is about 30hrs they run weekend courses to give the basics then mentor them as they embark on their first games.

You start at level 7 and you’re under your local FA durastriction. Once you get to level 4 you’re an FA referee and in the top 2000 refs in the UK. 

I’m a believer that in some cases the referee can bring their own problems as if you manage the game correctly and have a football brain it goes well.

Some refs especially the youngest ones or refs who haven’t played the  game, blow for everything, card everything then they have 22 players frustrated and then they lose the game.

In my opinion if you want to be a referee, you have to be thick skinned, be prepared for the role as you’ll be under pressure from the outset. You’ll make errors but you’ll also have the chance to develop and become a good official. Have banter with players and coaches and always talk to people, go into the club house after games to gain a reputation of being a decent guy and decent referee. If you’re going to be arrogant and not speak to people and can’t absorb the comments and pressure and then be woak and cry abuse and mental health etc…. then you shouldn’t be a referee as it’s not an easy job or easy money. Do it because you love the game and do it cause you want to progress.

As you can tell I’m passionate about this too as I come across so many officials I work with who have no standards. Rubbish kit and terrible attitude and appearance., then they complain when they get abuse or grief etc…..

I also know some referees who boast about “8 yellow cards and 3 reds in my last game” ridiculous!

My yellow averages are 1 a game and that’s if I have to. So far I’ve had 1 red this season and 2 yellows.” It must be working as Ian was awarded referee of the year last season for the Mid Sussex Football League.

So that gives you a refereeing perspective in the UK. My thanks to Ian for being so open and honest. 

What’s the solution here? Well one thing I don’t get is the FFIB coming out and supporting the strike, when they are the ones tasked with preventing it. I’ve said this before the FFIB a is an old boys network, very much like the FA, with no younger people as part of its team offering new ideas and alternatives. I for one didn’t agree with cancelling the junior football as the all the violence that had taken place was at a senior level. If anyone is found guilty of violence towards a referee, ban them for life.  Before the pandemic there was a rule which said that at each game, each club had to appoint its own “Delegado for its supporters”. Basically someone in charge who monitored the behavior of their teams supporters who are generally family and friends. I did it a couple of times but even then not all clubs adhered to it. The other problem is alcohol at grounds. Some bars are adjacent to the pitch and are serving from 9am in the morning. I understand this is a revenue stream for clubs but it has to be monitored. The Government complains of the Brits and Germans “booze tourism” they might want to look closer to home at times. 

We are back to normal this weekend so let’s see if anything changes. 

Take care everyone and enjoy your Weekend! 

Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.00-10am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance! 

Follow him on Twitter @DadTaxi1 & Instagram @dad.taxi or feel free to email him at rprior@globobalear.com 

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