It was pretty obvious Manchester United enjoyed the continental style refereeing in both their Champions League victories over Chelsea. A few weeks earlier, United took a half time lead in a league match at Stamford Bridge, but were bullied into defeat in the second half. Alex Ferguson, United’s manager, even bemoaned the “soft” refereeing and ended up suspended.
Premiership rules and the rules of football are apparently two very different animals. Statistics show that the number of fouls given in the English top division is around 25% lower than in any other major European league, and the number of cards is considerably lower too. In England they have a cute tradition: the first clear bookable offense is not treated with a yellow card but by lengthy lecture, in Shakespearean English, to a Bolivian butcher signed a week earlier from a Russian club.
Which brings up the question: following the influx of foreign players and foreign managers and foreign owners and foreign fans to England, where are the foreign referees. The Premier League pays the highest referee salaries in the world – over 70,000 pounds in many cases. So where is the Bosman of the referees? Demanding the chance to officiate in the Premier League, either for the professional challenge or simply for the money. Clearly a European court would grant any top European referee such a wish.
It may bring about more of the annoying time wasting we see in Europe. On the other hand English football would benefit in the international arena.