• Premier League

Former refs chief wants officials' conversations recorded

ESPN staff
November 4, 2012 « 14-year-old qualifies for 2013 Masters | Chartbeat test »
Referee Mark Clattenburg speaks to Mata during the clash at Stamford Bridge © Getty Images
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Conversations between match officials and players should be recorded, according to the former general manager of Premier League referees, Keith Hackett.

His suggestion comes in the wake of Chelsea's accusation that referee Mark Clattenburg used "inappropriate language" towards Jon Obi Mikel during Manchester United's 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge.

And while Football Association chairman David Bernstein has agreed to keep an open mind on it, he has warned any change to the rules in that regard will take a long time to push through FIFA.

Hackett thinks allowing referees' exchanges to be recorded would clear up such issues and lead to greater clarity for the authorities when controversy and disputes emerge.

He told The Observer on Sunday: "The FA are members of IFAB, so could bring forward a proposal to permit the recording of the conversations between players and officials during a game.

"I would have no problem with fans have the ability to purchase a ''Ref!Link" to listen in to what the match officials are saying. I would like to see a referee-coach at the ground able to listen in to the team of officials.

"And given what has happened in the last few days and, with no knee-jerk reaction, I would like to see conversations between the match officials for the full duration of the game recorded.''

Other sports such as rugby union and rugby league use the 'Ref!Link' system, which allows spectators to hear referees' interactions with players on the field of play and Hackett oversaw the introduction of microphones for officials so that a referees' coach could listen in.

Though Bernstein would not comment directly on the Clattenburg case, with the Durham-based referee strongly denying Chelsea's allegations, he did say it was an issue worth looking at.

He told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme: "The referee is miked up with the assistant referees and the fourth official so they are all aware of the comments and the dialogue that takes place, but it's not recorded.

"In order for that to happen, the referees' organisation - the Professional Game Match Officials Board - which is controlled by the FA, Premier League and Football League, would have to recommend that way forward. Then it would need to go before (world governing body) FIFA or IFAB (the rule-making body of FIFA) to be approved.

"The process would be quite long and meticulous. One of the great things about IFAB is that it doesn't jump to make changes too quickly. (But) given what's happened recently, we should have an open mind about it and it should definitely be looked at.''

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