Saturday night’s Hyundai A-League Grand Final between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United was a severe disappointment.  It was a let down for many reasons – the overall poor quality of the game and the questionable decision making of Matthew Breeze to name a couple. But the most disappointing aspect was not the influence that Matthew Breeze, the referee, had on the game; it was the actions of the players towards Breeze throughout the 90 minutes.  It will be argued (and repeated ever so frequently by Robbie Slater) that the sending off of Cristiano in the 10th minute ruined the game.  In case you missed it, the dubious decision was a result of Cristiano challenging for a header with his elbows raised against Rodrigo Vargas.  Cristiano made contact with Vargas’ head, however his eyes never left the ball and there was no malice or intent to injure Vargas in the challenge.  Breeze, initially was only going to issue Adelaide’s lone striker with a yellow card until he consulted his assistant referee and saw Vargas lying on the ground in a pool of blood at which point he turned it into a straight red.  Cristiano was unlucky.  Adelaide was unlucky and as a consequence had to play the next 55 minutes one man short.  But one bad decision doesn’t ruin a game.  What ruins a game and far more worryingly, ruins a sport was what Breeze was subjected to. Muscat, Ognenovski, Cornthwaite, Allsopp and Jamieson were all culprits.

 

Breeze was the target for many verbal sprays and hand waving remonstrations throughout the game and this was, by far, the greatest travesty to Australian Football.  It was detrimental for two reasons:

 

  1. It turns young aspiring referees away from the game.  One area of our game that we desperately need to retain is our junior referees and losing them will only lead to a decrease in quality of our referees in the future.
  2. It makes us looks like whiners.  This game was being televised to over 80 million people world wide. There is nothing wrong with showing your colours in the heat of the moment, but blatant abuse of the match officials needs to stop.

It of course will be argued that if Matthew Breeze hadn’t have made a poor decision in sending off Cristiano that perhaps he wouldn’t have been thrown the abuse that he was.  What a load of rubbish.  Referees are constantly the centre of projected insults and until we get on board with the Respect Campaign we will continue to fall behind in the standard of officiating and it will detract on the overall image of not only our game, but it will tarnish the image of our country. Come on FFA, it is time to protect one of our most valuable resources.

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