Mark Clattenburg has made a hobby out of upsetting football fans and players throughout Europe. In a recent interview after being named referee of the year at the Globe Soccer Awards, Clattenburg suggested that an incorrect call made during last month’s match between Arsenal and Everton did not contribute to the game-winning goal. Clattenburg addressed the call when he said,
“After reviewing six different angles it looks a corner on the pitch, nobody gives any dissent, but two corners later Arsenal conceded and people give you negative feedback that you’ve made a huge error in the game. It’s disappointing that I get a split second to see it and then two corners later it’s led to a goal and I’m getting blamed for that. I suppose that’s part and parcel of refereeing.”
Arsene Wenger offered his thoughts about the call in question, stating that it was clear that an Everton player was the last player to touch the ball before it went out of play. He then expressed his disappointment in Clattenburg, saying that “he was in a really good position to see it and it is not the first time we are really unlucky with his decisions.” Clattenburg suggested that his recent decisions were due to a style change that he made: by trying to understand what motivated a football player’s actions on the pitch. He feels that this change has raised the effectiveness of his officiating, which he claims is in line with the rate of success that officials experience on a match-to-match basis. According to The Independent, about 96 or 97 percent of calls were made correctly during the 2016 Euros.
In preparation for the knockout matches during the European Championships last summer, Clattenburg said that watching film of the teams in previous matches gave him a better sense of their style of play. He noticed that Poland often decided to press an opponent higher up the pitch. With his information, he knew that he would have to be willing to make important call should that situation occur in the upcoming match.
Clearly, Mark Clattenburg should not be discouraged from doing additional research for the matches that he officiates. This type of knowledge would be beneficial for any match official. However, this explanation for condemning complaints from Arsenal players seems to fall a bit short. If there was a legitimate complaint about the corner that yielded the game-winning goal for Everton, increased preparation or a good officiating record should not justify a crucial missed call. Clattenburg has officiated some of the biggest matches in European football so he has a good record to justify the respect he has earned. Unfortunately, respect from the international football community should not give him a pass to criticize players if there was a legitimate claim to be made.