Sports are a social situation. They take place with others and in front of others. This is part of their appeal; players enjoy the camaraderie, fans quench their thirst for tribal belonging and coaches satisfy desires to influence others. Hence self-isolation is difficult for sports fans who crave these absent pleasures and the same applies to officials. Referees hold the same internal love of the game as everybody else, and so also enjoy participating in the trivial discussions about football that are currently dominating social media while we experience an enforced break from the game.
One such discussion was reported in The Telegraph on the 15th April, when Michael Oliver was asked to cast his expert eye over the infamous 1970 FA Cup Final replay between Chelsea and Leeds United. To paint a picture of this game, and to understand what referees label ‘game temperature’, if you type 1970 FA Cup Final into Google the second suggestion that your computer will offer you is ‘1970 FA Cup Final fouls’. It wasn’t a pleasant affair.
Stuart Carrington is a lecturer in Sports Coaching Science at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London. He is the author of Blowing the Whistle: The Psychology of Football Refereeing which is available here