Refs promise ... no cheating

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

German soccer officials blew the whistle on themselves this week when they were rocked by a huge refereeing scandal.

Amid allegations that a ref fixed at least one Cup match and bet on the result, they suddenly realized they'd forgotten to do something very important.

Yes, they neglected to inform their long-suffering refs that cheating is wrong.

So they started developing a new code of conduct for the men in the middle.

From now on, refs will apparently be asked to promise in writing that they won't bet on matches. Phew. Glad we got that one cleared up.

Maybe while officials develop the new policy they should remind refs about a few other important facts.

Just in case they didn't know.

- Awarding penalties to the teams with the biggest crowds is no longer considered chic.

- Ruling out a legitimate goal because it looked offside from the other end of the field doesn't prove you've got 20-20 vision.

- And accepting a free lap dance from a busty blond - in return for giving her soccer-star boyfriend a break or two on the field - just isn't cool.

OK, I might be wrong on that one.

The match-fixing allegations came to light after Hamburg's defeat by lowly Paderborn last August.

Hamburg cruised into a 2-0 lead, but lost 4-2 after the ref handed a red card to striker Emile Mpenza for "insulting him.'' He also awarded two penalties to Paderborn.

Maybe introducing new rules preventing refs betting on ANY game isn't a bad thing.

But you've got to wonder, when the trend for introducing new codes of conduct after every scandal or inquiry extends as far as match-fixing. What happened to common sense? What happened to people being responsible for their own actions?

On the other hand, as a long-suffering Southampton fan, I'm starting to wonder whether codes of conduct should be applied to players as well.

Maybe the reason my team has only won three games this season is because our defenders were never given "the code.''

Perhaps they didn't realize it's not a good idea to let their opponents score goal after goal. Even if it seems to make them happy.

DAMAGED GOODS: Fans of Real Madrid might wish their president had signed a code of conduct preventing him from signing Englishmen.

Almost six months after he splashed out around $30 million Cdn on injury-prone Newcastle United's Jonathan Woodgate, the defender is still yet to make his debut.

And while his English mates struggle with form (David Beckham) and being confined to the substitute's bench (Michael Owen), there are fears Woody won't play again.

If he does retire due to his injuries, expect questions to be raised about whether Madrid tried to rush him back too soon.

And whether signing Englishmen when their careers are in decline (with apologies to Owen) is really such a good idea.


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