It seems that referees are being scrutinized more and more heavily in recent times. Mike Dean has become more of an internet meme than a referee in recent weeks as his bizarre decisions (usually in favour of Spurs) have seen him dropped down to the Championship to referee Leeds v Barnsley. Naturally in this game Dean gave a penalty for a hand ball that had taken place outside the box. But this has raised the larger question of referees decision making. Are the standards of officiating genuinely slipping or can we put these poor calls down to human error?
Its important to note that being a referee is an incredibly hard job. Not only do you have to know the extensive rules of the game in great detail but you have to be incredibly physically fit and make big calls under pressure, namely from tens of thousands of screaming fans, at least at Premier League level. Referees and their linesman do tend to get the majority of decisions right, but people tend to only remember the glaring errors that they make.
When a referee makes a mistake some time its ok to put it down to human error. If a player is fractionally offside its hard for a linesman to tell sometimes. There is however a line between what kind of mistakes are acceptable and can be put down to human error and what mistakes are simply poor judgement. Its usually clear that once a referee makes one bad error the crowd gets on his back and soon enough the pressure gets to the referee and a series of bad calls usually follow.
Its clear that video replays should be the way forward for refereeing in football. We have already seen the success of goal line technology and personally, football needs to embrace technology as much as possible as it will allow the game to become fairer. As for referees on the whole I do not think they are doing a bad job but too often they let the crowd get to them.