Thanks to my friend Chuck Stuart in Idaho Falls for the heads-up to an article in Soccer America (Jan. 31, 2012). To quote him: "When I read it, my jaw just dropped - the advice in the article just seems to go completely against what I would expect to be the correct actions of the referee."
Chuck's instincts are accurate. The article offers bad advice that violates the LOTG, and if that advice is allowed to be widely publicized, it could lead to widespread corruption of the game and its laws. And it is all to do with the simple act of a referee overruling an assistant about a flag raised to indicate an offside infraction. [I have written to Soccer America suggesting they publish a correction.]
As the referee remarked: "Clearly, the assistant and I did not work as a team on this important call." Well, I'm not sure; teamwork sometimes involves waving off an incorrect or unneeded signal. In this case the referee should have waved the flag down, but in the article the referee wrote that instead of waiting to see if there was an infraction, he should have gone with the AR's interpretation. Why? Because, he says, the game became difficult after that point.
Then, remembering his discomfort on the day of that match, he added this egregious piece of defective advice, and he has stuck with that opinion for more than two decades (!):
When I saw those words, I cried in a whisper at that image, that unwholesome vision—I cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath—"The horror! The horror!" [With apologies to Joseph Conrad; see Heart of Darkness.]
The referee, afraid that there would be a fuss over the supposed offside, recommends perverting the laws rather than learning to deal with management of his own emotions. I could write a long discourse over this "advice", which is impossible to administer ("Just a minute, lads, I need to do a quick survey of all twenty-two of you to see what you think of this decision.") but I will spare the reader and leave you with a summary:
1. The referee is supposed to overrule an assistant who make a wrong decision, or gives an unwise flag. Remember that assistants provide only information, the referee alone makes the decision.
2. The referee's first responsibility is not the comfort of the officials, but the correct administration of the officiating.
3. If this referee had done what he now recommends, he would have called back a perfectly legal goal, the scoring of which involved no breach of the law. Is that how Mr. Vogt thinks refereeing is supposed to be done? Violate the laws as he sees fit?
Tomorrow: How to talk your way out of a flag raised inappropriately.