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REFFIN' HELL, WHAT A LIFE.

Top ref David Elleray last night delivered a Christmas red card to soccer's rabble-rousers.

FIFA official Elleray said he and his colleagues were being made scapegoats when pitch brawlers, provocative phone-in hosts and managers were all responsible for the slide towards anarchy.

He said: "After the Norwich-Crystal Palace game, one manager admitted up to 14 players could have been sent off. We can't be expected to see every punch in such circumstances - all we can do is try to root out the instigators.

"Also, we are concerned about the increase in players rushing 50 yards to get involved in a flare-up which had nothing to do with them originally.

"It's unfair when these confrontations lead to lots of red and yellow cards, bringing the focus back on the referee. What about the players and their managers taking some of the responsibility? Referees become very convenient scapegoats.

"Sometimes when we make high-profile mistakes, the criticism is painful - especially when it is valid. But to be taken to the cleaners for it as well by Conservative MPs hosting radio phone-ins only rubs salt in the wound.

"In education, they say you should praise as much as you criticise. But in refereeing, it seems to be largely one-way traffic."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Walters, Mike
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 19, 1996
Words:206
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