Sports editor at The Canberra Times
Canberra referee Ben Williams has retaliated to media commentary of his controversial officiating at the Asian Cup, calling it “ill-informed” and questioning the relevance of some former players in the broadcasting box.
The Asian Football Confederation referee of the year in 2013 and the first Australian to officiate in the second round of a World Cup, in Brazil last year, Williams hit back at knockers who have accused him of being trigger-happy with yellow and red cards.
Former Socceroos and now commentators John Aloisi, Mark Bosnich and Robbie Slater criticised Williams’ handling of the Asian Cup quarter-final between Iran and Iraq at Canberra Stadium, where the whistleblower issued nine yellow cards and a controversial red-card to Iran’s Mehrdad Pooladi.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, fined for criticising Williams in the earlier rounds of the Asian Cup, then asked how the referee could sleep at night after Iran’s 7-6 loss on penalties.
Williams hit back in an interview on ABC Radio on Saturday, backing his own ability and taking aim at those making comment from afar.
“I don’t listen to any of the media after any contentious games, I don’t flick on the TV, I don’t read the papers, I don’t get on the internet to see what people have said about me because most of it is negative and most of it’s ill-informed,” Williams said.
“Some of the people who talk in the media have got no idea about refereeing, a lot of them are ex-players who haven’t played for 15 to 20 years and have played in different leagues around the world but don’t have an impact of international football as it currently stands. I’m probably the most qualified to sit back and analyse my own performance, so I do.
“People are entitled to their opinion, football is a game of opinion, some people believe their opinion is greater than others. If you believed everything that was written about you you’d lose your mind.”
“All you can do at the moment is give the decision you believe is best with the information you have at hand. Whatever happens after that, whether it’s coaches getting angry or players getting angry or media beat-up, that’s out of our control.”
Williams said referees, like players, made mistakes. But he felt a referee’s mistake was “seen as taboo”.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect referee because we’re all human as well and we are going to make mistakes, the same as a player. There’s no player who will go through any match and never make a mistake, never turn a ball over or hit one over the cross bar or miss a tackle. We’re all human just like the players.”
FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson, also of Canberra, is part of a push for soccer to have full-time professional officials.
“He’s been pushing for it as well and it is a matter of time, we hope it happens sooner rather than later,” Williams said.
“It’s not a money hungry selfish grab, trying to earn a contract for football for us. It’s about we want to prepare the best we can so that when we go out on the weekends we know we haven’t left anything to chance.”
Comment on Williams self-defense.
While Williams has the full right to defend himself , and there can’t be too much arguments on the plainly obvious statements that he uttered such ; there is no perfect referee, human error , people are entitled to their opinion; the Australian referee has shown his class , or lack of it , when he states that he ignores everything and everyone opinion but himself! So , although he talks about players and referees committing mistakes, he seems to have excluded himself normal people and elevated himself to the category beyond the normal. He does not thinks he commits and does not need anyone to tell him that. Any decent professional will always review and analyse his performance to try to mitigate any errors in his performance. Accpeting criticsm is part of that process. Obviously , Williams is different and judging by his own philosophy , he does not give a hoot about what others think of him !
“Some of the people who talk in the media have got no idea about refereeing” Williams says.
Refereeing is not a nuclear science either and you do not to be a brain surgeon to master it. Football laws are clear and simple enough even for the average layman to understand it. Referees are not elite either and do not have to attend a 3 years university coach to qualify. The main advantage the referee has over the fans is that he is closer to the action, however , with the advent of TV and slo-mo replays , even that advantage is taken away from him.
Instead of admitting that he screwed up and made a mistake , Williams is trying to fool the masses by a rhetoric that simply gives away a lot about his character. uncompromising , error-prone , happy whistle and fast trigger pulling referee. Not at all worthy of refereeing important international matches.