On Sunday, the News of the World reported that Steve Bennett, a referee in England’s Premier League, has alleged players cheat to get themselves booked or sent off in order to have a break over the Christmas period. The story has been reported on many other sites since it broke.
The News of the World piece describes Steve Bennett as having integrity:
STEVE BENNETT is no bar-room fantasist. No football phoney who passes on idle tittle-tattle because he knows a bloke who knows a bloke.
Integrity has been his byword in a refereeing career that has spanned a quarter of a decade.
Now, i’m not having a pop at NOTW, so don’t treat this post as such, in fact I applaud the paper for getting Mr. Bennett to talk about this huge issue, but I would argue that he cannot be labelled as having integrity if these alegations are proved to be true.
Integrity, as defined by Dictionary.com: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
How can Steve Bennett have not gone to the FA straight away with these allegations if he has integrity? It is surely immoral not to tell the game’s authorities if he thinks that malpractice is going on? Look at what Mike Newell did at Luton Town. He was offered bungs when talking to agents, which he reported, and subsequently, the club were punished.
I don’t neccessarily like Mike Newell, and I certainly don’t like Luton Town, but I admire his principles that football should be clean and cheating or dodgy dealings should not be tolerated. Steve Bennett would have done well to follow this example.
It is very possible that Steve Bennett will have officiated his last game in the Premiership – not because of the remarks, but because he did not make the FA aware of what was going on in the first place. That shows real integrity and strength of character – not telling a seasoned hack in an off the cuff remark in a bar in Spain at a UEFA referee’s conference. That shows a naivety and a lack of moral character which a ‘top referee’ should not have on his CV. Steve Bennett may well pay with his job and inadvertently launch an FA enquiry, but he could have instigated this a long time ago and made the game better for it.