Sweden’s referees have been involved in several high-profile incidents over the past few years. First you had Anders Frisk, who retired after being issued with death threats by some Chelsea fans after a Champions League tie against Barcelona in 2005.
Then there was Martin Hansson. He was the referee for Ireland’s World Cup play-off against France in 2009 when Thierry Henry’s handball set up the winning goal. He ended up going to the World Cup in South Africa but was not put in charge of a single game.
Sometimes the referee can make a mistake, but in the case of Jonas Eriksson’s decision to send off Manchester City’s Martin Demichelis I don’t think he got anything wrong. It’s not as if City were playing Rochdale and lost to a controversial penalty – they were up against the mighty Barcelona, who won fair and square.
Most people in Sweden think Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to go after us is ridiculous and we have been singled out unfairly. Eriksson is considered one of the best referees in the world and Fifa’s Jim Boyce has already defended him. If Pellegrini was being fair on his team then he would see they lacked a bit of edge. Everyone can understand his disappointment but it’s a very cheap shot.
Two years ago, referees in Sweden decided they would meet the press 20 minutes after each game to explain their decisions because they felt they had more to win by doing that than they had to lose. The experiment has been very beneficial for supporters and referees themselves. It gives them an opportunity to show they are human beings. That’s different from Fifa and Uefa, who lock them away and they can’t say anything. Eriksson is a media man and he will be frustrated that he can’t tell his version of events.
Olof Lundh is a Swedish journalist for TV4–sport
- More about:
- Manchester City