News ID: 111165
Published: 0624 GMT February 07, 2015

Referee Williams hits back at media critics

Referee Williams hits back at media critics

Canberra referee Ben Williams retaliated to media commentary of his controversial officiating at the Asian Cup, calling it “ill-informed” and questioning the relevance of some former players in the broadcasting box.

The Asian Football Confederation Referee of the Year in 2013 and the first Australian to officiate in the second round of a World Cup, in Brazil last year, Williams hit back at knockers who have accused him of being trigger-happy with yellow and red cards.

Former Socceroos and now commentators John Aloisi, Mark Bosnich and Robbie Slater criticized Williams’ handling of the Asian Cup quarterfinal between Iran and Iraq at Canberra Stadium, where the whistleblower issued nine yellow cards and a controversial red card to Iran’s Mehrdad Pooladi, wrote.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, fined for criticizing Williams in the earlier rounds of the Asian Cup, then asked how the referee could sleep at night after Iran’s 7-6 loss on penalties.

The criticism came after Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold labeled Williams’ “an embarrassment” when he issued a controversial card to Sydney FC defender Nikola Petkovic in the closing stages of an FFA Cup in October last year. The A-League match review panel upheld the decision, but stood Williams down for a game.

Williams hit back in an interview on ABC Radio on Saturday, backing his own ability and taking aim at those making comment from afar.

“I don’t listen to any of the media after any contentious games, I don’t flick on the TV, I don’t read the papers, I don’t get on the Internet to see what people have said about me because most of it is negative and most of it’s ill-informed,” Williams said.

“Some of the people who talk in the media have got no idea about refereeing, a lot of them are ex-players who haven’t played for 15 to 20 years and have played in different leagues around the world but don’t have an impact of international football as it currently stands. I’m probably the most qualified to sit back and analyze my own performance, so I do.

“People are entitled to their opinion, football is a game of opinion, some people believe their opinion is greater than others. If you believed everything that was written about you, you’d lose your mind.

“All you can do at the moment is give the decision you believe is best with the information you have at hand. Whatever happens after that, whether it’s coaches getting angry or players getting angry or media beat-up, that's out of our control.”

Williams said referees, like players, made mistakes. But he felt a referee’s mistake was “seen as taboo”.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect referee because we’re all human as well and we are going to make mistakes, the same as a player. There’s no player who will go through any match and never make a mistake, never turn a ball over or hit one over the cross bar or miss a tackle. We’re all human just like the players.”

FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson, also of Canberra, is part of a push for soccer to have fulltime professional officials. 

“He’s been pushing for it as well and it is a matter of time, we hope it happens sooner rather than later,” Williams said.

“It’s not a money hungry selfish grab, trying to earn a contract for football for us. It’s about we want to prepare the best we can so that when we go out on the weekends we know we haven’t left anything to chance.”

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