Breeze wages war on bad sports Print E-mail
Written by Philip Micallef, SBS   
Monday, 01 September 2008 14:16

A-League referee Matthew Breeze (Getty Images)A historic decision by referee Matthew Breeze during the weekend match between Adelaide and Wellington may have started the process of eradicating a most unsporting side of the world game.

The unsavoury sight of players urging referees to give yellow cards to their opponents has become commonplace around the world.

And Sydney’s Breeze, who is one of Asia’s most respected referees, had no hesitation in booking Phoenix winger LeiLei Gao in the first half of the match at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Gao was on the attack on the left side and was fouled by an Adelaide defender.

Gao stood up and remonstrated with Breeze, urging the man in black to issue a yellow card to the Adelaide player.

However Breeze surprised many fans when he gave a yellow card to Gao for 'dissent by action'.

Gao is not the first player in the A-League to do this but it's the first time in Australia that a player has been booked for seeking a yellow card to an opponent.

“The FFA are stamping down on obvious displays of dissent,” Breeze said.

“The caution was given because this was unsporting behaviour. Effectively Gao was trying to influence the decision of the referee by undue pressure.

“He could see that I was not going to caution the Adelaide player.

“The FFA have also embarked on a clear campaign to try and restore respect towards match officials.

“Such acts of dissent and unsportsmanlike behaviour have no part in today’s game.

“You don’t see it in the NRL, the AFL and in Super 14 yet you see it all the time in football.

“I have received support from the FFA for this decision. The match inspector applauded me for taking the action and to me this is a clear sign that the FFA means business.

“So this could serve as a warning to any player who has some intelligence that this sort of behaviour will earn you a booking in Australia.”

Breeze, like all other senior Australian referees, would not have been allowed to speak freely to the media before new directives came in at the start of the season.

Under appropriate circumstances, referees have been given permission to explain certain aspects of their performance in the FFA's drive to make the sector more open ... its football version of glasnost, if you like.

This new approach came about as a result of the appointment of Mario Van der Ende as interim national referees technical director.

The former FIFA referee had earlier conducted a review of Australian match officiating standards, systems and practices.

It's understood Van der Ende holds the opinion that the culture surrounding referees needs to change.

The Dutchman is concerned about the general perception that the referees are a closed group who do not talk to the public or give clarification on their actions.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 September 2008 17:29