Tavinder wants investment and support rather than hollow words
Irish League referee Lee Tavinder has made a passionate plea for more support and investment to improve the standard of officiating in the game.
Referees have been hit with stinging criticism from managers this season and Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) chief executive Gerard Lawlor told the Belfast Telegraph last Friday that without crucial support, refereeing is a threat to the league.
In an honest interview, Tavinder has called for a transformation of the refereeing culture in Northern Ireland and revealed he wouldn’t bring his 10-year-old daughter Charlotte to matches due to abuse from the sidelines.
An Irish FA spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday that the Association was continuing to recruit, retain and support referees.
Tavinder, however, says change needs to happen now or more referees will quit and standards will fall.
The 39-year-old, who has been a referee in the Danske Bank Premiership for seven years, argued: “We take on board there is always room for improvement and that argument is constructive. But we have been disappointed by the lack of comment from refereeing bodies and football authorities putting our view across.
“Uefa funding covers refereeing at the Association and if the league is going to move on there must be investment in referees.
“There has to be a support structure to help referees improve and also in terms of looking after the welfare and mental health of referees. I think that falls well short of where we want to be at the moment.
“The Irish FA have poured money into youth football and it’s brilliant but in terms of investment, refereeing has been left behind. Make a commitment to fund it and standards will improve.
“We need all interested parties including the Irish FA and Northern Ireland Referees’ Association to have regular meetings to discuss the best way forward.
“The culture has to change. If we lose referees then standards, criticism and abuse will get worse.”