Robert Huth, Leicester City’s 6’4” former German international, has complained that he is being victimised by referees, because of his reputation. We have heard similar claims before of course, from people like Joey Barton for instance.
The first thing I think Huth should ask himself is ‘what have I done to earn this reputation’? You only have to view some of his behaviour at corners, especially when at Stoke, to find the answer. Even he admits that ‘I have been guilty of pulling and holding’.
Naturally, referees talk to one another and if they have trouble with any player they will pass this information on to others. As the old saying goes, ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed’. This doesn’t mean they will penalise them for fouls they didn’t commit but they will keep an eye on that player for any further misconduct.
Robert Huth says ‘when the ball goes out for a corner, the referee is already looking at me, like “Rob, I am watching you”. The same thing happens locally and I recall a local referee saying to one well known hot head before a game, ‘Can we try and get through this game without any cards, (he didn’t).
These players tend to fall into two categories, the persistent fouler, where I would place Huth, or those perhaps like Joey Barton who have a low flash point. There is another aspect to all this. Opposing players are also aware of the reputation of these players and can play on it. It may be that they will go down in the penalty area at the slightest touch hoping the player’s reputation will convince the referee they have been fouled. Or they will antagonise quick tempered players, perhaps behind the referee’s back, in the hope that it will lead them into some retaliative action, which may result in a card.
Naturally, referees are going to get caught out some times but that doesn’t make it victimisation.