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Dhaka Tribune

‘If spectators are not aware of changes, assistant referees face controversy’

Manir Ahmad Dhali gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he talked about the challenges and criticisms while doing the job of a linesman

Update : 16 Feb 2024, 05:42 AM

Manir Ahmad Dhali has been assisting referees in domestic and international football matches for 18 years. He got into FIFA elite panel almost a decade ago and received the latest badge for the running year among 11 Bangladeshis earlier this month. The 44-year old assistant referee gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he talked about the challenges and criticisms while doing the job of a linesman. Here are the excerpts:

How did you become a referee?

I was a footballer. I played for Khulna Brothers. One day, I heard from Khulna about a junior referees’ course in Dhaka. I attended, passed and continued step by step to complete first and second class. Then came the FIFA exams followed by elite panel exam. I started refereeing in 2005 and have been in the FIFA elite panel since 2014.

What are the challenges you face?

Controversy is common in football field, especially during offside situation for assistant referees. Many offside rules have changed. If the spectators are not aware of the changes of amendments, the referees face controversy. For instance, the player was on offside situation but the assistant referee opted for “wait and see” to watch if the player played the ball or not. While waiting for this, the audience from the gallery shouts out, “It was offside but not given.” But it is in my rules to wait and see. If the viewers, players and team officials know the laws then it would be easy for us to conduct matches. If the viewers know the laws, they will enjoy the game more.

Can you recall any such backlash?

A lot. It happened on most of the occasions. I faced this many times. Even at Bangabandhu National Stadium, I heard slangs from the gallery for playing on during offside situation. It has become a habit. Referees also make mistake. They are also human. Sometimes linesmen are not able to take a decision. They seek help from referee and fourth official. When everyone failed to come up with judgment, the Video Assistant Referee has arrived to help. But most of the time, it was because of the ignorance of spectators we faced backlash.

Is it same at international matches of foreign countries?

Such situations occurred very less in number during international matches. Most of the foreign players and spectators know the rules well. They are more disciplined. It doesn’t mean that such incident didn’t take place at international matches, but the number is very low.

Assistant referees used to face violence. Has it changed?

The referees had to face violent situation in the past but not anymore (in the top-flight competitions). Those have become source of fun on social media. Now everyone has camera phone. When any such incident takes place, the spectators can capture. For why, the violence has become rare. The level of our viewers has also improved. They are more disciplined now.

 

What are the pleasant sides of this profession?

We heard slang words from the audience in the field. I understand that they are slamming me due to lack of knowledge so I don’t count it. It’s also a pleasure that I’m the only one among the thousands of spectators. The referee is one in a million. This gives me joy and pride.

What are the odds?

The bad is that I hear expletives in front of the junior assistants and the guests while leaving the field. It’s a matter of shame. My friends made a joke out of this. They say, “you became a referee to listen to obscenities.” It made me sad. Many also say we the referees take bribes but the referees never do it. They make mistakes which are common but they never take bribe.

Did you ever have regrets after making a mistake?

It happened. It occurred on many offside situations that I missed and later regretted it. When a referee makes a mistake and realizes it, he can’t sleep well that night. It becomes a big matter of grief and regret. It’s a thankless job where you have to judge within two-three seconds. It requires a lot of concentration and knowledge. It’s also a job of pride.

The referees don’t get money in time. What is your take on that?

It’s a matter for the authority, the delay. If we get the money we feel happy inside. If the referees receive their money in time their seriousness will increase hundred times. The referees are supposed to receive almost Tk1 crore. Hopefully we will get it soon.

What else do you do?

I’m a revenue inspector of Khulna WASA where I joined in 2000. It’s my main profession while refereeing is my passion. I train the local referees of my district and share knowledge on the rules and laws of the game. I feel it’s my duty to guide the junior referees.

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