Rangers striker Kemar Roofe was retroactively banned for a challenge he recieved a yellow card for. Here’s why the SFA are (rightly) accused of mishandling the situation…
Let’s point out the elephant in the room here: we all hate referees. There’s not many things football fans universally agree on, it’s true. VAR being awful is close, but there’s maybe a few out there who extoll it’s virtues still – particularly if they are regularly benefitting from it’s shoehorning into the game. Arsenal being underwhelming is even closer, with perhaps only Ty from AFTV continuing to tow the line. But no, the singular issue that springs to my mind, that we can all agree on, is that matchday officials are rubbish.
I think special ire has to be reserved for our lot in Scotland as, not only do we have their own incompetencies to contend with, we also have one of the most inept governing bodies at the helm in the SFA. This mob, ostensibly not fans of the game in the slightest, have a long and checkered of objectively bad decisions – effectively stealing a living by making the sport worse off.
The latest in said long list of insanity is the Kemar Roofe debacle. The Rangers striker was yellow carded for a challenge on St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson at the start of the month. Should be case closed, right? Wrong. The SFA haven’t had their say in the matter yet, their inexplicable need to remind us all that the game only exists and operates at their beck-and-call.
Reviewing the tackle, a fairly standard yellow card challenge, they decided the referee got it wrong and it should have been a red. Then, said official tried to save his own skin before his SFA overlords by claiming that well, he didn’t really see it. Why give a yellow card then, if you didn’t really see it? If you believe that one, you’d believe anything.
Nonetheless, a retroactive ban was given to Roofe for 2 games and his appeal failed because he was appealing to the SFA who made the decision in the first place. I feel this is the perfect time to remind you all that this is the group of people who awarded Celtic the title last year as a free, and undeserved, gift.
Such a situation leaves Rangers manager Steven Gerrard in a bit of a pickle. You see, Alfredo Morelos, his other first choice striker, is also banned retroactively by the SFA for a challenge in the Hibs game one week earlier. This means the Gers go into tomorrow’s match against Kilmarnock without both and relying on Cedric Itten or Jermain Defoe to shore the line. Suffice it to say, Gerrard isn’t best pleased, as quoted by the Scottish Sun:
"“There are far worse situations and challenges that don’t even get looked upon.That’s not right and we need to have a level of consistency.We must trust and support referees otherwise you’re going to have inconsistencies.The referees do a terrific job considering they are part-time but if we can give them more support financially to become full-time and introduce goal-line technology it will help improve the game for everyone in Scotland.”"
The powers at be won’t like that kind of talk, I have no doubt, but it’s hard to see where he’s wrong. The light blues have their games investigated to the n’th degree while horror challenges when Cloggers United like Motherwell and Ross County meet up are absolutely ignored. Even Hoops boss Neil Lennon agrees that Rangers, and Celtic, are targetted with different rules and expectations from the rest – and as we said earlier, football fans rarely agree on anything.
Gerrard’s get-out clause is of course the suggestion for goal-line technology and paying the matchday officials to be full time. That’s his roundabout way of calling for more reliance on what actually happens on the park, rather than what some numpty in a suit decides days later.
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Let there be no doubt, we all hate referees, but it’s a love-to-hate relationship. Singing songs at him, giggling as he falls over, cheering wildly as the red card is brandished towards the opposition. It’s all part of the fun, the flare, the magic of football. The SFA taking away that right, responsibility and authority from the man on the field destroys that. Now any challenge, at least those by the Gers, will be met with “oh but they could overturn that in a few days anyway”
In the end, Rangers have to find a way to dig out three points against Kilmarnock, at Ibrox, without Roofe and Morelos. We’ve long argued that Itten deserves more chances and that story hasn’t changed, it’s just a shame it should be under such circumstances. Despite it all, let’s hope for Rangers to pull out a convincing win. Our 55th title win would make this season one for the history books and that’s something I think we can all agree on.