Referees of differing continents

I never stopped wondering why this idea has never struck FIFA or any other bigwig sport associations in the world: why do they sometimes put referees who are of the same cultural roots with one of the countries playing in a match?

An obvious example is like one of the Asian cup matches we had here in Indonesia several months ago, when the match had an Arabic Emirat referee presiding over “Indonesia vs Saudi Arabia” match. Indonesia lost that match, and many Indonesians were unsatisfied with the result, citing the Arabic referee being biased as one of the main reasons.

Of course, it’s not that particular Indonesian match that I’m going to defend here. One thing that should be obvious is that we should have sport matches being presided over by referee who don’t share the same national language!

Let’s take a look at the example below.

If the football match is “South Korea vs Netherlands”, then FIFA should consider having an African or a Latin American referee, one who obviously does not share any bias of cultural roots.

Having a European referee would increase the chances of being biased for the Germany side, and vice versa for an Asian referee.

Now let’s say that FIFA has installed a Belgium referee (who can also speak Dutch!) for that “South Korea vs Netherlands” match. If the South Korean team wins, then people would usually turn up just fine. However, if the Netherlands side wins, the South Korean side would normally protest over the referee’s decisions on certain “yellow cards”, “offside”, etc.

The above is just an example I’ve made up myself, but apparently, this often happens to matches that aren’t presided over by a referee (or linesman) of differing continents.

It would be much easier to pick referees to preside over in matches in a championship of a particular continent, such as the Copa America. Having a Spanish referee for a “Mexico vs Canada” match would be out of question, as it is akin to having a Portuguese referee for a “Brazil vs Chile” match. They share the same language, obviously. Having a Bangladeshi, Norwegian, or Japanese referee in their matches (who speak none of the three main languages in the American continent) would be a much safer choice.

Having a referee from different continent from either side of the team would not just ensure that chances of being biased are reduced; it would also ensure the respective teams’ supporters from protesting the decisions he makes.

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