“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Article 19, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Sir Alex Ferguson is used to creating controversy, but, apparently, this time he went too far. After Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland, Sir Alex stated that he believed the referee, Alan Wiley, wasn’t fit enough to officiate the match.
After which, the Football Association demanded that he further elaborate on his comments. In other words, the FA insisted that Fergie should tighten the noose around his neck.
The FA’s reaction came as no surprise; after all they allow managers to comment on a referee’s performance, as long as they don’t demonstrate bias, question their integrity or embark on a personal attack. Essentially, all a manager is allowed to say is, “Well, the referee performed.”
It’s straight out of Hitler or Mussolini’s playbook. You can say what you like, provided it’s what we want to hear.
I mean let’s be honest, Fergie voiced his opinion on an issue that affects his, and every other, team in the Premier League. The FA, upon hearing Fergie’s complaints, could’ve looked at their fitness policy towards referees, but instead, Fergie is now on the lookout for any men in black shirts wanting to pay him a visit.
It should also be noted that what Fergie said wasn’t really that bad. All he really said is that Wiley wasn’t fit enough to referee on that particular day. He didn’t suggest that Wiley should retire with his head hanging in shame. Nor did he recommend that referees who aren’t as good as others in the fitness tests should be taken out back and shot, over and over again.
It’s often said here in England that there are a lack of top quality English managers, but it comes as no surprise in the wake of this debacle. Who is going to aspire to be a world-class manager when you have to relinquish one of your civil liberties along the way?