Time to stick up for Thai refs

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Updated: April 13, 2016
The Verdict referee

Two Thai referees (Thanom Borikut and Chaiya Mahapab, who is pictured above) were recently provisionally suspended by the Asian Football Confederation for alleged match-fixing, but I don’t think corruption is prevalent among officials here. Refs are always an easy target. For some reason, if players make a mistake that’s acceptable, but it’s not for referees.

I can honestly say during my time managing in Thailand, I never thought the officials were corrupt. Just remember, he’s just one person anyway; you’ve got a whole team against you who want to beat you. Referees are an easy target or an excuse if you lose. Make a decision someone doesn’t like, and you get half a team against you. It’s definitely a subject I’m passionate about; referees should get more respect.

With Army and then Port, I used to referee a bit in training. But I deliberately made some dodgy decisions to see how my players would react. If they started to moan and groan I would learn something about their characters.

I’ve refereed in competitive games as well. When I was doing my coaching badges back in England some years ago, I did some Sunday League refereeing. But in the end I did not want to pursue it further and put myself through the abuse you get. The antics of the players on the pitch is terrible at times. I did not use to enjoy refereeing. Whatever decision you make, you get someone moaning at you.

Unfortunately, abuse of officials is as bad here in Thailand as it’s everywhere in the world. Coaches need to make sure their players behave themselves. When I was managing, I saw coaches for Premier League teams continually have a go at the officials themselves. That doesn’t set a good example. I’d be asking: Why aren’t you having a go at your own players?

One idea would be a 1m exclusion zone around the officials at all times. Cross that, and you get a yellow card. Simple. Ref abuse is a scourge on the game. I remember when I played for Tottenham under Terry Venables back in the late 80s, he would always want his players to do whatever they could to influence the ref’s decisions, which might include comments and crowding around him. The previous manager, David Pleat, on the other hand, didn’t want anybody around the ref, similar to the legendary Brian Clough. If coaches don’t behave properly, how can you expect players to follow suit?

The Asian World Cup qualifying draw was on Tuesday, and I think Thailand have been given a tough task with the group they have. Japan are always difficult, and Australia still have Tim Cahill banging in the goals for them, a former English Premier League star. The other teams are no pushovers either (Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE).

My opinion hasn’t changed: I still think they will fall a bit short, even though I’ve been really impressed with them as a unit of late. There is real togetherness there, and they showed that in the Iraq qualifier and the South Korea friendly, where I thought they would get their backsides kicked after going down early, but they stayed in it and were actually the stronger team in the second half. The manager Zico has created a great spirit amongst the players, and that can take you a long way.

In the domestic Premier League, I know other teams have made good starts, but I still believe Buriram will emerge the most powerful. They’ve been without their goal machine of last year Diogo, while the centre-half Tunez is top scorer instead. They only need to be in touch at this stage; it’s a long season and they have the best squad.

I’m not surprised that Hebarty (pictured below celebrating with a selfie after scoring against Korat on April 2)  is banging in the goals yet again for Ratchaburi.

Heberty Ratchaburi

He’s got four already this season and his record overall is fantastic. I really like him as a player. He’s got a good left foot, scores free-kicks and in open play and sets chances up for others. He’s as good a striker as anybody in Thailand at the moment. I think there is not a club in the country that wouldn’t want him. But I can’t see him moving elsewhere in Asia, even though he could make a step up. He seems comfortable with his life and football here. I don’t see a huge hunger about him. But he’s a nice lad and when I spoke to him he came across as very modest and humble.

Finally, it it’s nice to see Spaniard Ricardo Rodriguez back in the Premier League as the manager of Suphanburi. I came across him when he was manager of Bangkok Glass last season, when his side were down at Port. He always struck me as a nice guy and I wish him all the best.

 

Gary Stevens is a former England international and two-time manager in the Premier League of Thailand. He currently lives in Bangkok.

 

 

 

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Thai Goals, ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One

Thai Goals

Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures

Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC
Thai Goals, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup< ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
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