Fara Williams criticises “below par” referees

Fara Williams has condemned the standard of refereeing in the Women’s Super League this season, saying that the officiating “hasn’t been good enough”.

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Speaking exclusively to The Offside Rule: WSL Edition podcast, the current Reading captain and England’s all-time highest capped player said that both players and managers believed that the level of refereeing was below par. 

Her comments came after Reading’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday. 

Reading were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute for a Katie Zelem handball, but footage of the incident clearly showed her arms nowhere the ball. 

(Katie Zelem clearly does not handle the ball) 

Reflecting on the handball accusation, Fara Wiliams said:

“[We got] a penalty that probably never was. You can see from the reactions of the players that nobody appealed that handball”

“That would tell the referee a little bit whether it was or it wasn’t [a penalty]. I’m not going to say to her “No ref, it’s not a handball”.”

Fara Williams scored the resulting spot-kick, having had one saved by Mary Earps earlier in the game, thus gaining her side a point. 

When asked what the solution was, Williams decried the attitude of referees during matches. 

“[Referees] don’t want to cooperate with you on the pitch. They don’t want to help you out. They don’t want to try and calm players’ frustrations because it is competitive…I feel like they’re ruining people’s games” 

Women’s Super League referees tend to be drawn from the men’s fifth tier of officials (the National League) but they are subject to the same evaluation system as Premier League referees through video analysis. 

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It is not the first time this season that the standards of refereeing have been criticised with Manchester United manager Casey Stoney speaking out back in November after her side again were controversially penalised. 

Maren Mjelde’s penalty then gave Chelsea a 1-0 win at Kingsmeadow. 

“I don’t know if they can bring the next level of officials into our game,” Williams concluded. 

“It could be a cost thing. I’m unsure what it is, but certainly the level right now…managers and players believe isn’t good enough.” 

Fara Williams’ comments came on the last episode of The Offside Rule’s WSL edition as the Muddy Knees Media production has been forced to suspend recording as it has been unable to secure any sponsorship this season.

Follow Jessy on Twitter at @jessyjph

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