Referees not to be second-guessed

Head of the Hyundai A-League Damien de Bohun gives his take on the decision surrounding Ben Sigmund and Jeronimo Neumann.

By Damien de Bohun, Head of Hyundai A-League

There has been much commentary about the red card awarded to Wellington Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund for his foul on Adelaide United-s Jeronimo Neumann at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Phoenix disagreed with the decision and lodged an Obvious Error Application, which was referred to the independent Match Review Panel.

Under the A-League Disciplinary Regulations, a red card will only be overturned where it-s a decision that no referee could have reasonably made if in possession of all the facts, including the Broadcast Footage.

It-s important to note that this is a very high threshold to pass; that no referee could have reasonably made the decision if he or she had all the facts.

Applying this test to the Sigmund red card incident, the MRP rejected the application.

There are very sound football-based reasons for setting this test so high. The point of the MRP process is not to “re-referee” matches or substitute the decision or opinion of one referee with that of a panel.

It-s a fundamental tenet of football that the referee-s decision is final, except in cases of an obvious error that can be proven by irrefutable evidence not available to the referee at the time of the decision.

Put simply, the MRP process exists to correct patently wrong decisions that no one can argue about. It-s not there to second-guess the referee.

There was also commentary about the manner in which Neumann tumbled afterwards.

Two seasons ago, the A-League Disciplinary Regulations were amended to introduce post-match video reviews of incidents involving possible simulation.

However, the MRP can only consider possible simulation where it first upholds an Obvious Error Application.

In this type of case, this would require the MRP to determine that a red card was issued when no card was warranted and further that the player pretended to be fouled (ie, he was not actually fouled) causing the referee to make a decision that no referee could reasonably have made.

That was not the case here - the MRP rejected the Obvious Error Application applying the test described above.

Therefore there was no basis for the MRP to then conduct a post-match review for possible simulation.