Games 40-42, 2017-18
After more than a month off refereeing due to a combination of bad weather, illness and holidays, I was set to return to the field this weekend. Then my refereeing body called us out on strike (youth games only) to protest a physical attack last week against one of our members during a boys' U17 game. Nonetheless, I was still in charge of four games this weekend, one way or another, and all of them reflected to varying degrees the still toxic football atmosphere in my city.
|The time has come...|
I supported the strike and the reasons for it, even though the action was not even discussed (let alone voted on), as it should have been, at our monthly referees' meeting last Tuesday. Not all referees supported strike action, but you had no choice - if you'd been assigned to a youth game, you were now automatically withdrawn.
On Friday evening, before the strike has started, I ref a boys' U17 game. The home coach introduces herself to me one minute before kick-off, just as she's bringing her team back in from warming up. "Kick-off's at six," I say, pointing out that the away team is already out and ready. She shrugs. I add that I have plans tonight, looking at my watch, but I might as well have been reading her the Confucian Classics in their original Chinese. We kick off eight minutes late.
At half-time, though, she's much keener to talk, appearing at my changing room door with her team 0-3 down. "You need to watch out for offside," is her opening line, with courtesy still far from being her strongest point. Oh, really? Offside? What's that? I never bother with it, you know. Just let the