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.

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