Former PGMOL Hackett blows whistle on declining referee standards

October 26- Former head of English referees Keith Hackett has slammed “lazy” Premier League referees and called for Rugby-style sin bins to be introduced into football to combat cheating.

Speaking exclusively to Fair Game’s ‘We Love You Football, We Do’ podcast, the ex-PGMOL chief also took the opportunity to call out “declining” referee standards in England’s top flight.

Hackett said: “What we have seen over the years is a decline in the standards of refereeing. They’ve lost some of the required management skills, the good communication skills between players and referees.

“There are some referees that have reached the dizzying heights [of the Premier League] who have shortfalls in capability, and I don’t think they are good enough.”

It is no secret that simulation and gamesmanship are growing under the catalyst effect of faulty refereeing, with the yellow card holding less weight than ever.

Hackett, who refereed in the Premier League for 20 years, also spoke on introducing a rugby-style sin bin system to make players take offences more seriously.

Hackett said: “There is no question that acts of stimulation, feigning injury are [on the rise]. There is more cheating now than there was one when I was refereeing.

“Players receive a yellow card now and it is almost a badge of honour. We need to be moving towards a sin bin like rugby, go off for 10 minutes calm down.”

Top of the conversation, though, was the VAR disaster during Spurs’ clash with Liverpool last month, with Hackett suggesting that Luis Diaz’s wrongfully disallowed goal was a mistake that could have been corrected during the game. Under pressure from football fans across the league, the PGMOL released the VAR conversation covering the decision, which did little to remedy fans concerns as to the standards of refereeing in the most lucrative league in world football.

“There is a lack of basic law knowledge,” Hackett said.  “VAR protocol says if there is a serious missed incident, the game can be stopped. Referees are practitioners of the law and if they’re not studying the law on a regular basis, we’re not going to advance refereeing.

“Referees get into trouble these days because they are lazy. Nigel Owens, the top class rugby referee, warned me that the danger you have with VAR is it will promote lazy refereeing. And it has done that. I see referees hesitating on what is clearly a penalty.

“Is it fear that they don’t want to make an error or is it that they are waiting for the decision to come from the stop department?

“The role of the referee has to be to make the decision and then VAR to come in and help.”

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1719280565labto1719280565ofdlr1719280565owedi1719280565sni@g1719280565niwe.1719280565yrrah1719280565