Santalab says players crying out for consistency from refs

Western Sydney Wanderers star Brendon Santalab said there was a feeling of "uncertainty" among A-League players about what sort of decisions they were going to get from referees on any given day.

A-League Rd 2 - Adelaide v Western Sydney

Referee Shaun Evans gives Santa a yellow Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

The striker said all the players wanted from match officials was consistency, but that they weren't getting it.

"Players don't want to be going into games thinking about referees and what's going to happen today," Santalab told The World Game.

"We want to go into games focusing on our own performance and putting on a good spectacle each and every week.

"For us, that's all we want to take care of, and when you think about it the people turn up to watch the two teams play and not see the referee on show."

Santalab will make his return from a three-match suspension when Wanderers play Newcastle Jets at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday.

He said he felt that ban - two games for violent conduct after he received a straight red card for making contact with the face of Brisbane Roar defender Jade North, as well as one game for having reached five yellow cards for the season - was excessive.

"I thought the yellow card as soon as I went on was very harsh," he said.

"I'd just been on the pitch for 45 seconds or whatever and I've jumped up for a header, there's no swinging arm, no swinging elbow, nothing, jumped up for a header and all of a sudden it's a yellow card.

"When you look at leagues around the world, who jumps with their arms down? Nobody. You need your arms up to balance and I was challenging for the ball.

"The red card, look, I made contact with Jade North's face and the rule says if you make contact with the face you're off, but I was shocked when I saw the straight red. I thought maybe a second yellow.

"There was nothing deliberate about it. I was just trying to get him out of the way because he'd blocked my run and he had no right to block my run. The ball went over the top and I'm running for it and he checked my run, so I've tried to get him out of the way and made contact and got sent off.

"I've seen some really dangerous tackles this year, even from myself, that could've been given a red card and weren't, and then you get a red card for that.

"The players are asking for consistency, that's all we want to see.

"We want to see dangerous play stamped out of the game, but at the same time we play a sport that requires passion and aggression and pride and there are times when the referee needs to understand there's no malice involved in tackles, it's just purely to win the ball."

Match officials have received more criticism this year than any other in the history of the A-League, for getting decisions wrong, missing things, over-reacting and sometimes not acting strongly enough.

Santalab said he was stunned the match officials not only missed the hand-ball by Sydney FC defender Michael Zullo that should have led to a Wanderers penalty in last Saturday's derby, but also the deflection that should have at least given them a corner kick.

"OK, don't give us the penalty, but give us the corner. It hit the guy!" he said.

"I was at the game and it was mind-boggling as to how we didn't get something out of that shot from Nico (Martinez).

"I thought apart from that the referee had quite a good game and handled everything really well, but that really cost us."

Wanderers are in eighth place, three points behind sixth-placed Perth Glory and two behind seventh-placed Newcastle.

"Every week becomes more and more like a grand final for us," he said.

"Newcastle are ahead of us and a loss to them would really hurt us, so it's a huge game."

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4 min read
Published 19 January 2017 at 1:25pm
By Greg Prichard