Referee at the highest national and European level for fourteen years (2003-2017), Saïd Ennjimi is a figure in the French refereeing corps. At 49, he is now president of the New Aquitaine Football League.
Patrick Ittrich, German referee of the Bundesliga, suggests giving a red card to the players around him to challenge his decisions, even if it means sending off several of them. What do you think ?
Distributing red cards indiscriminately for this reason is too rough. In Ligue 1, Clément Turpin is much less surrounded by the players than a promoted referee. They cluster less around an experienced referee. This means that the contestation is not vehement to be vehement, but that it contributes to a form of strategy.
I am more in favor of setting up a temporary exclusion. Some amateur competitions already allow a player to be sent off for ten minutes with a white card. It’s an aggravated yellow card. It prevents a team from finishing the match outnumbered and allows the player to calm down.
Are French referees well trained to handle disputes?
For a long time, the training of amateur referees has focused on the laws of the game. It is evolving. Beyond whistling fouls, referees must manage conflicts. So we have the ambition to deal more with human management.
What factors can explain this permanent questioning of the refereeing corps?
The stakes have taken precedence over the game. The four relegations to the lower division in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 this season, the millions of euros in football, the waltz of the coaches: this set forms a pressure cooker that explodes too often. Today, even amateur players are paid at the regional level. The economic context is part of the game. The referee’s job is to try to take these elements into account to ensure that there are as few disputes as possible. This conflicting environment sometimes makes the match crisp. Unfortunately, this tense atmosphere is duplicated in amateur competitions.
Can we speak of a culture of protest in French football?
In France, especially in the professional world, there is a tacit form of acceptance of cheating. A penalty obtained this way is not so outrageous. In England, if a player falls in the box to get a penalty, it is not tolerated by the general public. So English referees are much less challenged than French, German, Spanish or Italian referees.
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