July 19th, 2011
You Or The Ref: Thierry Henry
Ah, the bitchface. Letting the official know who’s in charge at an early stage is a vital part of a player’s modus operandi. Note the referee’s soothing body language. He knows this is going to be a rough game. Images: Getty Images/Zimbio.
Generally we tend to skip over the boring bits in match reports in favour of skin exposure, so our knowledge of the pressure that match officials are under during elite games is limited. We know that players exploit the rules to their own advantage and frequently go unpunished on the field, resulting in embarrassment and criticism of decisions made in the heat of the moment. It’s disappointing.
As you know, we at Kickette feel compelled to do whatever we can to preserve the purity of our wonderful game. Therefore, we have compiled this handy crib sheet to help you identify the most popular distraction techniques and offences that players use to confound match officials. This will not only enhance your game time experience, but enable you to quickly assess decisions and impress your friends with your observation skills. Thierry Henry from the New York Red Bulls has agreed to assist.
Just remember though. It might look like a tough life, but before you start feeling too sorry for the refs, think of the potential of that much ‘access’ to players. And then apply to ref school.
The mind games begin at the moment of kick-off. A player will want to know how observant you are and test your eyesight to assess how much off-the-ball misbehaviour he can get away with in a game. Thierry is particularly talented in this field; his delicious French accent providing an additional distraction technique for the referee to overcome. ‘But can you not see, Monsieur Referee? I am Thierry. Of the va-va voom? No?‘
Players are a passionate bunch and dramatic game play can often lead to the occasional expletive emission. Here we see Thierry in the split second prior to such an emission. A referee must watch very closly for this, as the use of foul and abusive language is a sending-off offence. But one must be careful. Thierry ‘may’ be about to congratulate his marker on an excellently timed, ball-winning challenge. He probably isn’t, but you wouldn’t want to make a fool of yourself, would you?
Some players’ reputations precede them. Thierry is famous for a rather controversial handball situation in what could be described in an important fixture, and is therefore conscious that referees will be looking out for that offence. We see him here making doubly sure that all officials can see he is not currently handling the ball in any way whatsoever. Do not be fooled though. He could be at it again at any moment.
Are you shocked at the devious techniques players will use to gain advantage? Or are mindgames and sneaky string pulling part of your every day life anyway and you see no reason to deviate in football?
Oh, and a big thank you to Thierry for taking the time out of his side’s busy MLS game vs. Chivas USA last weekend to help us with this project. You’re a gentleman.