Football is a sport of great passion around the world, and every match is watched intently by millions of fans everywhere. However, on occasion, football matches can be subject to controversy and controversial decisions by referees. In these cases, players and coaches often make critical comments about refereeing decisions, which can lead to sanctions by the sports authorities.
Situation in Spain
In Spain, in recent seasons, there have been several situations in which the The Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has sanctioned players and coaches for making critical comments about refereeing decisions. in the media.
For example, Valencia player Gayá was sanctioned for stating that the referee saw a penalty and did not want to call it. Similarly, Betis player Canales was given a four-match ban for publicly stating that the referee had "premeditated" his sending-off in a match against Cádiz CF. Some coaches have also been involved in similar situations, such as Real Madrid coach Ancelotti and Cádiz CF coach Sergio González.
As a result of this, the debate on sanctions for statements critical of the work of referees in football has gained relevance. The inclusion of an article sanctioning criticism in the RFEF's Disciplinary Code is justified by the need to to protect the honesty and impartiality of referees and to ensure the proper conduct of sporting competitions. However, this limitation may affect other fundamental rights, such as freedom of information and expression.
Article 106 of the Disciplinary Code
These situations have led the RFEF's Competitions Committee to apply the article 106 of the RFEF Disciplinary Codewhich considers as a serious offence "statements made by any person subject to sporting discipline, by any means, which question the honesty and impartiality of any member of the refereeing collective or of the RFEF bodies, as well as statements which imply disapproval of the activity of any member of the aforementioned collectives when they are made with contempt or when offensive, insulting, humiliating or abusive language is used".
It is understandable that a sports federation should have the ability to self-regulation of private associations and to lay down organisational rules to ensure the proper conduct of sporting competitions. The inclusion of this article which sanctions critical statements issued by persons subject to your organisation in which the honesty and impartiality of the arbitrators is questioned or offensive, insulting, humiliating or abusive language is used seems appropriate.
Despite this, this article brings with it a number of counter-arguments. For example, some argue that referees, just like any other citizen, have the right to have their performance respected and not to have their professional conduct violated. honour. However, others argue that refereeing requires a certain amount of deference from players and coachesThis could justify the sanctioning of critical comments questioning their integrity as judges.
It is important to bear in mind that referees are a fundamental part of the world of football, as they are in charge of enforcing the rules of the game and ensuring its correct development. In addition, their work involves making decisions in situations of great pressure and tension, which can lead them to make mistakes. However, these mistakes should not cast doubt on their honesty and impartiality, as this could generate a climate of mistrust that would negatively affect the development of the sport.
Freedom of information
On the other hand, the freedom of information is also affected by the limitation imposed by article 106 of the RFEF Disciplinary Code. The public has the right to be informed about events in the world of football. footballincluding the views of players, coaches and others involved in the sport. However, the sanction imposed by the Competition Committee may limit freedom of information by censoring opinions that may be considered critical of the referee's work.
In any case, it is important that the referees' decisions are respected and that a climate of mutual respect is fostered among the members of the federation. It is necessary to finding a balance between the protection of honesty and impartiality of arbitrators and freedom of expression and information. A possible solution could be to establish a framework in which criticism of the work of referees is acceptable as long as it is made with respect and without belittling the work of the referees.
This would protect the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and information, while ensuring respect for the work of arbitrators and avoiding offensive statements.
Freedom of expression
In other words, the freedom of expression allows any individual to criticise decisions made by the referees in the context of a match of football. However, this does not mean that this freedom is absolute. On the contrary, there are certain limits that must be respected in order to protect other values that are also relevant, such as the dignity of individuals or the proper functioning of sporting competitions.
In this regard, it should be noted that article 106 of the RFEF Disciplinary Code does not sanction all criticism of the referee's work, but only those that question the honesty and impartiality of referees or that are expressed with contempt or with offensive, insulting, humiliating or abusive language. In other words, the limit that is established is not absolute, but is subject to certain conditions and nuances that make it possible to harmonise the right to freedom of expression with other equally important values.
On the other hand, it is also important to bear in mind that refereeing is not infallible and that, therefore, the criticisms directed at it may be legitimate in some cases. Indeed, constructive criticism can contribute to improving the quality of refereeing and thus to ensuring a fairer and more equitable conduct of sporting competitions.
In any case, what is essential is that criticisms are made in a respectful manner, without belittling or questioning the integrity of the referees. It is also important that athletes and coaches are aware that their statements may have an impact on the rest of the sporting community and, therefore, on the smooth running of competitions. In this regard, it is essential that they assume the responsibilities that come with the exercise of freedom of expression and that it is used in a responsible and constructive manner.
In conclusion, the inclusion of the Article 106 of the RFEF Disciplinary Code seems appropriate in view of the need to protect the honesty and impartiality of referees and to ensure the smooth running of sporting competitions. However, this limitation is not absolute and is subject to certain conditions and nuances which make it possible to harmonising the right to freedom of expression with other values also relevant.
In any case, what is essential is that criticisms are made in a respectful and constructive mannerThe integrity of the referees should not be undermined or questioned, and the responsibilities that come with the exercise of freedom of expression should be assumed.