Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dodgy sporting decisions.

In the world of illogic that is football rules, while Wayne Rooney is suspended from the next two Manchester United matches because of a dodgy red card in the Amsterdam Tournament (and by the way, would someone please explain to me why the game he missed in that tournament doesn't count towards the suspension), Ben Thatcher is free to play for Manchester City despite putting a guy in hospital with an appalling tackle last night. I would suspect I'm paranoid, but Jose Mourinho has quite enough of that.

What I find more interesting though is the row in cricket. A lot of people, including most of the Cricket writers in Monday's Telegraph, were critical of the umpire in how he handled the ball tampering allegation, and also the Pakistani protest. I enjoy watching cricket, and have a minor connection to fame in that my brother as a schoolboy played football with Ed Joyce, and my sister has played cricket in teams coached by Ed Joyce's family. I am a little excited to see that he's in the squad for the One Day Internationals. However, I would acknowledge I'm no expert in the sport.

It does appear to me though that the ICC has little choice but to support the umpire. Yes, he may have accused the Pakistanis of cheating, but then so does a Premiership referee when he books a player for diving, and you don't see Manchester United refusing to come out for the second half in protest. Even if Darrell Hair has made a "massive mistake" to quote Nasser Hussein in the Mail, that's not the point. The point about referees and umpires is that their word is law and if teams feel they can pressurise officials into giving a decision their way or the authorities (the ICC or FIFA) will back them over the official, then you remove one of the key elements of good officialdom - the ability to make a decision based on how they see it at the time without undue pressure.

This is not to say officials always get it right - Dermot Gallagher certainly didn't at the City Portsmouth match - nor that they shouldn't be sanctioned when they get it badly wrong. But the ICC have consistently insisted they have confidence in Darrell Hair despite complaints and criticism from the Pakistanis, and they should continue to give him their backing now.

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