Lee Dixon’s Criticism Of Referee Kevin Friend Was Unwarranted

Lee Dixon was paired with Arlo White on NBC’s coverage of Everton versus Arsenal on Saturday.  So far, in their first year and two weeks of Premier League coverage, all of the commentators have done well.  But on Saturday, Dixon was a disgrace.

It has long been a favorite tactic of managers to blame the referee after their team loses the game.  Jose Mourhino is one of the more persistent, even though his teams win more often than not.  Lately, it seems like more and more commentators are taking issue with many of the refereeing decisions.  The commentators for the Houston Dynamo on CSN Houston are repeat offenders.  On Saturday, Lee Dixon added himself to that list.

As a color commentator, Dixon’s job is to provide insight and analysis to the broadcast.  While he did a good job of this, he questioned and vehemently disagreed with almost every single call that referee Kevin Friend made during the Everton and Arsenal match.  In fact, the only time he didn’t disagree with the referee was on Everton’s first goal, where Dixon commended the assistant referee for keeping his flag down on a close play.  That was the end of that.

The referee dished out five yellow cards during the course of the game and Dixon argued against every single one of them.  He was incessant about his playing days when fouls would not have been and play would have continued.  He even said that cautions for reckless challenges take away the players’ aggressive instincts, and if the referees continue to issue cautions for fouls, then the game would become a farce.

What Dixon does not seem aware of is that we are in the modern era of soccer, not the era of his playing days.  Player safety is a priority.  The first job of the referee is to ensure the safety of the players.  All five cautions during the game were 100% warranted.  And as for the game becoming a farce, that won’t happen. It hasn’t happened yet, and it never will. Or at least not because of the referee handing out yellow cards for dangerous challenges.

21 thoughts on “Lee Dixon’s Criticism Of Referee Kevin Friend Was Unwarranted”

  1. The argument for Everton was that they deserved to score the second goal because they were out playing Arsenal but that 2 points could be the difference between a league title or Champions league qualification.
    The Linesman was at fault for the second goal. Arsenal were robbed and regardless whether Arsenal is a bigger club than Everton and has a more expensive squad doesn’t matter at all.
    Managers have a right to complain about referees. If your old enough you’ll remember the 1996 Champions League final that Real Madrid stole from Juve. They won it off of an offside goal. Who knows maybe they still would have won but you can’t tell me the manager doesn’t have the right to complain about a refs poor performance.
    If Arsenal had gotten the decision it would be they’re a top 4 team so the ref is biased towards them kind of narrative.
    Why do players and Managers get stick but refs don’t?

    1. I agree,the second goal was off-side; but that doesn’t mean Arsenal would have gone on and won the game had the goal been disallowed. Everton dominated most of that game,they may not have taken their foot off the gas had they only been one goal ahead.

  2. have to disagree. dixon is 1 of the best pundits around.

    the 2nd goal was offside and foul how theres no problem with that is crazy.

    refs tend to be inconsistent with their yellow cards. hell they’re inconsistent with their whole game.

  3. He didn’t necessarily disagree with calls. He is a color commentator. He is providing commentation on the game as he sees it. It is no fault of his that the game that he knows has changed. Lee even stated that he understood the play of the game these days, however his OPINIONS differed from the refs. Poorly written, biased article. And he was right. The refs should have made that offsides call. I can understand if he had been somewhat out of position, it happens. However, this is the biggest league in the world, and big money is paid so this doesn’t happen.

  4. The linesman that allowed the second goal for Everton is a repeat offender against Arsenal.He invariably wrongly flags Arsenal goals as offside and allows offside goals against us.His classic was not to notice Nemanja Vidic punch the ball from under the Manchester United crossbar thus denying Arsenal a clear penalty and reducing United to ten men only a few seasons ago.I always shudder whebn I see that he is to run the line in one of our matches.

  5. Who wrote this article should be sacked
    Don’t you have anything else to write about?
    Lee Dixon is 1 of the best pundits out there and
    Also honest, I think this article was just to
    Poke people to reminding us nothing can be
    Done when referees make a big fool and
    A big blunders of themselves , why not have a look
    At the stats of the wrong decision against arsenal last
    Season compaired to other clubs and how it could have changed
    That whole season and they are at it again .referees

  6. I am afraid to say this article is nothing but utter non sense saying so i dont completly agree with dixon on the yellow card of jack! on other day he could hav got red as well. Assistant referee got it wrong for the 2nd toffees goal.

  7. How Everton managed to get one card to Arsenal’s 4 beats me…..the ref had a bad game and his decision cost Arsenal victory….criticising Dixon,well maybe u dont even know wat football is about.

  8. Lee Dixon talks it likes he sees it, and like he played it. It is so refreshing to get a British commentary team that are not afraid to have a go at the ref/linesman, versus your typical US commentary pairing that are afraid to comment against any “dodgy” calls, the MLS, or heaven forbid – “FIFA”. I really enjoyed the commentary Saturday and look forward to the pair of them again. All in all the NBC package is top draw – better than I could ever have hoped for – and Rebecca Lowe ? The icing on the cake !!

  9. I’m an Arsenal fan, and it seems to me that almost every game there is some kind of refereeing screw up going against Arsenal.

    I don’t watch many games with other PL teams, but is it common to see other teams get offside calls given against them (either way), have goals disallowed incorrectly, or have penalties turned down for what replays show were shirt pulls or clear trips?

  10. Is that you writing this article K.Friend? Ref had a bad game and called fouls and cards inconsistently no matter how modern the version of the rules you are applying.

    Both a foul and offside in evertons second goal and lots of dubious free kicks against Arsenal that were not given when similar fouls were made against them, cost Arsenal 2 points no matter which way you look at it so no wonder an ex Arsenal player wasnt happy.

  11. Kevin ought to be fined for what he blew on saturday…he was undecicive througuot…the second goal was an offside.

  12. I generally don’t like criticizing writers because while I may disagree with their opinion, they are entitled to express it and put forth an argument as to why they have that opinion.

    However when a writer (such as Lawrence did in this article) criticizes someone else for having an opinion because it doesn’t matches their own, that’s a line that should never be crossed…

  13. Did’n you watch the match?that lineman was a disgress,mats was foul even before the offside goal and everythng happend in his presence,and again the reff was busy dishing un-neccesary yellow cards to every challenge we mate and you said lee was wrong?the stupid refree cost us the three points and that is what’s happening every year.is like something is happening undergrown that we dnt knw or what?thnk before you write,bro.

  14. And you have the guts to suggest we share or tweet this? SMH! Who wrote this…A Chelsea fan? You said Dixon’s job is to provide insight and analysis to the broadcast. He was doing that on the referee’s performance. If the Ref is ruining the game you can’t judge/analyse the performance of both teams then.

  15. Just admit it lads,Arsenal aren’t as that good,and blaming the ref ain’t going to to change that. The ref made a few errors (the off-side and Jack should have seen red),but don’t try and make out that Arsenal deserved the win,they didn’t deserve the draw. It was a travesty that Everton failed to claim 3 points.

  16. I actually agreed with Dixon when he made his comments about the referee. While watching the game I also felt the cards came out all too often for tackles that were routine.

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