Rugby an example to football, in every respect

Rugby an example to football, in every respect
Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic had to be restrained by his team-mates after being shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson during their match against Burnley last month. It is incumbent on players at the highest level to give referees the level of respect they deserve.

YOU might, in a fit of bravery, agree to be Andy Murray's adviser on avoiding angst, England's penalty coach, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's personal assistant or even the fellow who follows the defeated, dehyrated athlete to the loo for a drug test and then exits triumphantly holding a urine beaker.

But football referee? Of all sporting jobs, not this. A job of no glory, no applause but only highlighted error.

A job with which comes spittle, abuse and occasionally death. Last week, after all, a Detroit amateur player was jailed for punching and killing a referee.

There was, insists, a time when fouls were considered ungentlemanly and captains settled disputes.

Like the dodo, this quietly passed. Later, two umpires were put to work - their job was to consider appeals from players.

The referee, at the touchline, intervened when the umpires failed to agree. In 1891, referees began to send off players without listening to appeals.

Problem is, it hasn't stopped the players from stating their case at full volume.

Put on the TV and there they are, the howling, diving, indignant packs, who want the referee to enforce the rules when they themselves feel no need to follow them.

In 1878, a referee first used a whistle, in this century it will soon be pepper spray if you go by Chelsea's suffocating swarm.

Theatre, which is fun, has been confused by footballers with histrionics.

In their defence it is said they are passionate people in chase of noble prizes.

Apparently the higher the stakes in sport, the lower the respect to be shown.

Of course, protesting against decisions - "We wuz robbed" shouted boxing promoter Joe Jacobs famously in 1932 - is balm for the defeated soul.

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