Rodwell sending off rescinded. What happens to the referee?
The FA have accounted Jack Rodwell wrongfully dismissed in the Merseyside derby last weekend. He will not serve the 3-match ban that usually follows a dismissal.
However, there is no mention made of any measures to be taken against the said referee, Martin Atkinson. His error caused the balance of the contest to be in the favour of Liverpool.
Before any Liverpool fans start to fume, Kenny Dalglish himself said that before the sending off it was a close match. This is not a demand for the three points, or a replay, or any other unrealistic aim.
There does, though, remain the question of what happens to Martin Atkinson. In employment cases of wrongful dismissal, the employee has the right to claim damages against the former employer. Granted that Rodwell was not the referee's employee, but he was subject to the ref's (apparently wrongful) perceptions.
Two issues arise here:
The first is that football, as a multi-billion dollar business, is utilising technology from over a hundred years ago. The most notable technological advance in the last century has been the addition of nets to the goals. That is if we exclude the Star Trek earpieces sometimes worn - please could we stop this? If the (lack of) technology was working well, it would be an acceptable situation. However, the technology is not working. Mistakes are being made too often. Prior to the derby, Liverpool's manager had complained quite publicly about poor refereeing decisions this season. Discontent at the current rate of refereeing faux pas is notable. The time has come for video technology to assist referees with their decisions. It is not replacing referees' discretion (though some might applaud such an action), but instead it is permitting the referees to use all the aids available. To be brutal, footballers generally cheat anyway. This would be a way of reducing unfair advantages gained from such behaviour.
The second point is what will happen to Atkinson? Why did the FA make no comment about the consequences to him of his error? Is there a policy for such instances? Apparently we have another year of the Respect campaign. However, the public is not given the respect of knowing what will happen to an official who has made such a thunderous blunder. I'm afraid that to be told that referees are human and make mistakes does not really carry weight. It may be factually correct, but is an invalid excuse. It is an after-the-event shrug. It is not respectful. It may be that there is already a process that has begun, whereby the referee in question is to face certain consequences, but we have been told nothing.
This need not be about one specific game. There is a general arrogance by football authorities shown towards those of us who finance the game by attending or paying to view. We are offered a game that is ever more fast moving, but with no technology to cope with that new pace. And when things go wrong, tough cheese. If football fans acted with the same intelligence as shoppers, we'd go elsewhere. Bit difficult to do that with a monopoly, though.