A World Cup short story by Ian Plenderleith, presented by Referee Tales
Some people say that being a referee is like working in the sewers. No one wants to do it, and all you get is shit. And yet, some of us are willing to muck in where it stinks. Where there's nothing to see and smell but a torrent of human effluent. Yeah, you're welcome.
Let me say from the start that I was sent home from the World Cup for doing my job properly. That’s the truth and the whole story in one short sentence. There is not a single piece of cinematic or photographic evidence to even suggest that I made the wrong decision. And that’s because I didn’t make the wrong decision. Ah, people say, but you couldn’t have known that at the time. Well, of course I couldn’t have known for sure at the time. It was a very close call. But every replay, no matter how much you all wished it otherwise, proved beyond any doubt that I was right to raise my flag. Each time they re-ran it, frame-by-frame in the slowest of motions, the pundits reluctantly reached the exact same conclusion. The decision was correct, and no one can ever take that away from me.
Centre ref Phil O’Hara's voice came over the headset while incensed Colombian players surrounded me, all screaming in Spanish as I withstood the kinetic hatred of their glistening, maddened eyeballs. I know just enough of that language to understand that I was the bastard offspring of a syphilitic street-whore. I was unmoved, though disappointed that Phil didn't come over to hold them back and card at least one of the mouthy fuckers for dissent.
“You're 100 per cent sure, Mick,” he half-stated, half-asked. I told him firmly that I stood by my call, but he could send it upstairs to the video ref if he wanted. Right at that moment I was really happy that we had the video assistant. If it backed me up, I was vindicated. If I was marginally in error, we were off the hook. Phil, though, didn't like the extra help. He's a top-class ref, but really