“It is the perception of many that the assessment of referees by their peers is insufficient for a thorough performance assessment, and moreso, for the necessary follow-up action, including retraining and possible disciplinary measures, that should arise from assessment.”
The following proposal geared towards the improvement of refereeing in Trinidad and Tobago was submitted to TTFA president David John-Williams by TTSL president, FC Santa Rosa head coach and former CONCACAF technical officer Keith Look Loy and forwarded to Wired868:
It is the view of most persons involved in local football that the standard of local refereeing is not what is desired if the standard of our game is to improve. Through the years, there have been complaints from all quarters that many referees are not performing as they should. The performance of a referee can impact not only on one match, but also on a club’s entire season.
The low standard of refereeing is the consequence of the following:
- Weak referee recruitment programme;
- Inadequate training/retraining programme;
- Ineffective referee assessment and lack of consequences for poor performance;
- Dubious match appointments.
FC Santa Rosa proposes that TTFA should engage the membership of TTRFA and, in particular, its affiliated league in the discussion of the following:
- A scientific and adequately funded referee recruitment programme to be administered by the TTFA Referee Department;
- Creation by said affiliated leagues of their own referee panels—based on the current TTFA Referee Committee/Department referee assessment—which they would be responsible for and would manage in collaboration with the TTFA Referee Department. The example of major leagues across the globe is there to be examined in this regard;
- Reconstitution of the Referee Committee to allow for representation of affiliated leagues in same;
- Establishment of an independent Referee Assessment Board, which would advise affiliated leagues and TTFA Referee Department on performance assessment of referees as well as on referee retraining and possible promotion and/or demotion of referees to and/or from affiliated league referee panels;
- League participation in the appointment of referees to matches. Specifically, each affiliated league should have one (1) representative on the Appointment Committee.
Independent Referee Assessment Board
Specifically, with regard to the independent Referee Assessment Board, FC Santa Rosa proposes the following:
We recognise that the TTFA Referees Committee assesses referees but the positive effect of this exercise is not visible to those involved in matches. We also know that there is a problem with attendance in referee (re)training sessions, resulting in many referees lacking the physical and technical skills and expertise to perform professionally on match day.
In order to engender confidence in the referees of Trinidad and Tobago, the assessment of their performance must also engender confidence. The independence of the assessors and the assessment process is critical for the credibility of said process, hence we believe there is urgent need to establish a body of independent referee assessors.
It is the perception of many that the assessment of referees by their peers is insufficient for a thorough performance assessment, and moreso, for the necessary follow-up action, including retraining and possible disciplinary measures, that should arise from assessment.
The perception of ‘himself assessing himself’ will always plague the Referee Committee.
Many management theorists, such as Brown and Heywood (2005), posit that performance appraisal provides the most direct and dynamic link between on-the-job performance and human resource development. They further state that a good performance appraisal system provides for an automatic and highly valid basis for the evaluation of all learning and development endeavours.
If we are to improve the game of football, all aspects of the game must be willing to stand the scrutiny of independent eyes and we must be willing to communicate about performance so that the required standards will be met.
According to Delahaye and Choy (2017), ‘Developmental performance appraisals concentrate on identifying, honestly and accurately, the developmental needs of an individual for successful present and future performance in an organization.’
The objective of this proposal is not to undermine the credibility and/or status of referees but to assist in identifying weaknesses in performance, and to facilitate the enhancement of referee capacity to the benefit of the beautiful game.
Modern performance management theory requires that all persons affected by the performance of an individual should play a part in the assessment of that individual. The theory of “360 Degree Assessment” is that everyone affected by the individual’s performance should be able to state how (s)he perceives that performance, and how it affects them.
Samantha Gluch (2017) is of the view that “360 Degree” provides direct, honest feedback and that, by reviewing the perceptions of others, one can see clearly the effect one’s behaviours and attitudes have on others.
The referee affects the players, coaches and spectators. It may be difficult to poll the spectators but certainly the players and coaches should have a say.
Heidi Wiesenfelder (2017) states that appraisals based on input from a variety of colleagues provide more comprehensive data for review and development purposes. The idea is to comprehensively review the performance of our referees with a view to assisting them to continuously develop and become more efficient and effective officials.
Composition of the Board
The board should comprise the following:
Chairman, recommended by TTFA, [and] three (3) members proposed by each affiliated league, e.g. TTSL, SSFL, TTPL, Regional Associations. They would be the actual assessors and would be responsible to their parent body.
General rules of the Board
- The Board will elect at its first meeting a Secretary from among its members. Once elected, the Chairman shall have a casting vote whenever a decision is tied;
- A minimum of half of the members plus one will constitute a quorum of the meetings of the Board;
- ‘Robert’s rules’ of meetings will apply at all meetings;
- The Board will report in writing to the Chairman of the TTFA Referee Committee, and via the TFA Secretary to the Annual General Meeting of the TTFA;
- The Board will regulate its business in accordance with the rules of the world governing body of football, FIFA.
The Role of the Board
- To set standards of performance for referees in Trinidad and Tobago;
- To develop assessment criteria for the comprehensive assessment of all referees in Trinidad and Tobago;
- To recommend training and professional development for referees;
- To develop a merit list based on the assessment of referees in Trinidad and Tobago;
- To develop a performance bonus system to reward excellent performance;
- To conduct ongoing assessment of referees.
It is recommended that the assessment methodologies utilise the “360 Degree” approach to performance assessment. This approach is a developmental approach to human resource assessment and development aimed at unearthing the weaknesses and strengths of individuals so as to maximise their performance.
In the case of the referees, it would involve the assessment of referees by the players, the coaches, fellow referees and a referee assessor.
The independent assessor would be responsible for the conduct of the assessment and the distribution and collection of the assessment forms.
Players would be selected randomly by the assessor to fill out a simple questionnaire at the end of every match while the coaches would be given a standardised document to fill out on their impression of the referees performance.
Based on the result of the “360 Degree” assessment, the referee would be given a performance score for the month. At the end of the year, the merit list would be developed based on the average score of each referee for the year.
At the end of the year, bonuses would be paid to the deserving referees and those who need to improve would be informed and training recommended where necessary.
A mid-year assessment score would allow for promotion and/or demotion of referees.
The referee affects the result of the match and sometimes the result of the league season or competition. If we wish to pursue football excellence, then everyone needs to be accountable for his/her performance.
So long as the TTFA Referee Committee and TTFA Referee Department continue to assess their members, the perception that there is no accountability will remain and, once there is a lack of confidence in the process, then the distrust of referees will continue in our football.
If we really believe that referees are critical to the game, then we must be confident that the assessment of referee performance is valid and effective.
FC Santa Rosa urges the TTFA to examine this proposal honestly and objectively and to include it in a national discussion on refereeing—as has been called for by the Central Football Association and the TT Super League, which has already taken the decision that the formation of its own referee project is a burning necessity.
I anticipate your response.