Merrick fine reveals FFA's sensitivity


Is it time for the game of football in Australia to stop being petty and hypersensitive about post-match comments from A-League coaches?

It would appear so if the ridiculous fine imposed on Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick for saying what he thought of VAR is anything to go by.

Merrick was fined $3,000 on Saturday for disparaging remarks about the video assistant referee after his side's 2-0 defeat to Perth Glory on January 27.

Merrick said in his peculiar sense of dry humour that "the guy in the VAR was having a cup of tea. He didn't have a chance to look at it. He probably fell asleep."

Merrick effectively was claiming that VAR was not doing its job.

Big deal. Isn't that what most of us are saying, anyway.

The point is if every Tom, Dick and Harry is allowed to express an opinion on a system that has caused more chaos and confusion in the competition than anything else, why cannot a club coach say the same thing?

Many in the media have been scathing in their criticism of a system that is essentially not working, because few people in the refereeing sector are qualified enough to make it work.

If Football Federation Australia were to complain about anything anybody wrote or said and demanded action, the governing body would be told in no uncertain terms which river they should jump into.

So why can't a coach complain about something that he sees is wrong (even if he is wrong), particularly since a referee's decision could conceivably cost him his job?

And especially since board member Heather Reid was not exactly complimentary in her unsolicited comments on sacked Matidas coach Alen Stajcic, was she?

If Reid could say what she said in public why can't Merrick say what he thinks of VAR when asked to comment on it without impunity?

I will not even attempt to dwell on the inconsistency surrounding the fines and general punishments imposed by FFA on the league's transgressors.

Yet fining a coach who is basically telling anybody who would care to listen that he disagrees with a referee's or VAR's decision is wrong and smacks of bruised egos.

FFA have been under attack for decades for the way they are running the game.

Surely they should have enough of a thick skin by now to regard comments from an aggrieved coach with a pinch of salt.

The governing body would say that coaches should set an example by their behaviour.

But what's wrong with somebody telling somebody else to do their job properly - this happens in any sphere of life.

FFA would also say that if they allow coaches to be dismissive or disrespectful in their post-match press-conferences then they would give carte blanche to anybody with even the minutest of grievances or gripes to have a go at authority.

But again, what's wrong with complaining in order to set a higher standard?

It's not the end of the world.

Fans at large would dismiss comments from petulant coaches and treat them on face value if they are seen as silly excuses. So FFA should not be too alarmed or offended.

Alternatively, if coaches make post-match points that are seen as necessary and to the point, FFA should take them on the chin and get on with the job of rectifying the problem.

FFA are supposed to be very big on transparency.

Letting coaches speak their mind - as long as they are not abusive - is one way of carrying out their slogan.