In my 1,554 games as a referee there was never a hint of bribery… but it doesn’t stop officials giving soft penalties to the bigger teams

Had Wayne Rooney been playing for Cardiff last weekend there is a higher likelihood that he would have been sent off for kicking out at his opponent than there was as he was playing for Manchester United. The same applies to Ramires being awarded a penalty for Chelsea against West Brom a fortnight before.

Managers of smaller clubs have often suggested as much and at times are asked to explain their comments as they could be seen as questioning the referees’ integrity.

Big clubs: West Brom players complain after Ramires went down in the box in the last minute a fortnight ago
Big clubs: West Brom players complain after Ramires went down in the box in the last minute a fortnight ago

Now, given the match-fixing claims and the inclusion of match officials within those as yet unsubstantiated allegations it is vital that our top officials are seen as completely impartial.

There is never a conscious intention to go out and make those contentious decisions and despite the use of sports psychologists they are still made.

Whether it is an inborn protection that kicks in or the accumulation of pressure from bigger crowds and more demanding players I do not know.

Frustration: Rooney kicks out on Jordan Mutch in the eighth minute - he later went on to score

Frustration: Rooney kicks out on Jordan Mutch in the eighth minute – he later went on to score

Missed: Wayne Rooney receives only a yellow card after kicking out in the draw against Cardiff

Missed: Wayne Rooney receives only a yellow card after kicking out in the draw against Cardiff

Referees are aware that a tight decision which goes against a ‘big’ club will attract more attention than one that goes in their favour. Some of that is down to media reporting, some is down to the way games are analysed internally.

Rest assured the elite group of referees are aware of this and work continually to reduce and hopefully one day eradicate this unintentional ‘bias’.

Whilst fans of smaller clubs might baulk at this we should all be grateful we have our games controlled by 100 per cent honest match officials who have never been caught up in bribery scandals – and there are not too many countries who can say that.

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