Abandoned games – Confused, in need of guidance
Guest article by Brian
Over the weekend, I switched on the television and was enjoying the watersports, until discovering it was actually meant to be a football match between Army and Muang Thong.
My immediate thought was why has the referee not stopped the game in view of the conditions and as there appeared to be no immediate prospect of a let up in the torrential downpour, not abandoned the game. My understanding of one of the referee’s responsibilities is to ensure the playing surface is fit for play and safe for the players. Although I think it was teeming down at the start of play, I’m presuming he felt this was the case at that time, else the game should never have started.
So I watched the farce for a while, which reminded me of fun games at an inter-village sports day. Players were trying to figure out how to strike a floating ball, but they had no idea how far it might travel, suddenly stopping dead in a pool of water. Skill, the ability to pass, run with the ball meant nothing. Even the tv commentators were having a good chuckle at the pantomime. Another lottery this weekend.
Now I appreciate that heavy rain in Thailand is not unusual and the quality of pitches leaves much to be desired in coping with that. So perhaps there is more allowance made here than in the UK, but surely not to the extent that the game is a farce?
I sense other influences here, which should not interfere with the referee’s decision, but perhaps do. Besides the inevitable stick he’d get, justified or not, for abandoning a game (the actual score at abandonment, minutes played etc.), other considerations of the problems of replaying a game – rescheduling, costs, gate money, possible refunds or free entry etc.
My understanding is that the usual policy regarding an abandoned game is that it’s replayed, as if the original game had never taken place, irrespective of the score or time played. But haven’t I heard of different goings-on in Thailand. For example, in lieu of a replay, the score and remaining minutes from an abandoned game are played in the return fixture, if there is one (presumably, not added to the new game, but played as an entirely separate short game). That seems bizarre to me. Wasn’t this the case with Phuket, which was losing a game heavily in Bangkok, when it was abandoned? Retrospectively, I think common sense prevailed and Phuket just forfeited the game. Perhaps that was a one-off occurrence?
So, I’m seeking clarification here. Firstly that it’s recognized that the duty of referees is only to make decisions on the suitability of pitch and safety of players at any time, without concern as to other repercussions. Then, as per normal practice and irrespective of the score/time played, is an abandoned game to be replayed? Finally and presuming that any country’s football body is at liberty to make competition rules, if abandoned games are not replayed, is there a policy/formula to dictate what occurs, or is the situation managed on a one-off basis, presumably securing the agreement of both clubs?
If in Thailand, for whatever reason, there is preference not to have to replay abandoned games (and one would inevitably be putting trust in the honesty/ judgment of referees here too!) to agree a formula, and this is only a suggestion, e.g. any team leading by two clear goals after 60 minutes play in an abandoned game, should be awarded the game/points. Of course, there would be other combinations.
Can someone explain the situation, please?