"The referee is a useless, interfering, grandstanding bastard. "
Steven Wells lays the guilt trip. Not all referees are as described above. But some certainly are. I have seen some matches (good or otherwise) overshadowed by heavy handed or incompetent refereeing. Cue Graham Poll or Valentin Ivanov.
But the article misses the point. If you want to make the case for human error do not imbue the referee with a messianic complex.
The actual philosophy should be; the referee is right unless proven otherwise. We need to establish that burden of proof. Wells is certainly correct when he says that referees are pure of motive but they are not free from pressure exerted by certain managers and players adept at gaming the situation. They are also not free of parallax.
Contrary to Wells assertion, there has been no drop off in excitement or spontaneity in NFL games where video reviews have been used. Apart from Norv Turner who was was rightly steamed in a post match interview with a call that cost the San Diego Chargers the game, the NFL has been relatively free of officiating controversies, allowing coaches to correctly focus on player performances or coaching tactics.
In contrast, referees making a bad call in many Premiership matches in an otherwise well refereed match become the target of a manager's tirade in the post match wrap up. This lets off players who might have played badly. In the Bolton match, Fabrice Muamba missed an absolute sitter that should have tied Bolton but Megson latched onto Styles "catastrophic cock-up." Styles decision also does very little to dispel the notion that the big four come off better against smaller clubs when it comes to officiating controversies.
So yes, lets not forget the invaluable service of referees to the game. In fact, their role has been used as an analogy for better regulation of the financial world, for those who argue against less. But lets not get carried away. If the players are God, the owners are God, the managers are God, and the referees are God, then what are we as fans? Chopped liver?