refereeOn October 24th, in a Premier League fixture against West Ham United, Chelsea FC picked up half a dozen yellow cards, while one player and two coaches-including manager Jose Mourinho-were sent off for misconduct. After the Wear-Tyne Derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland, soccer pundits roundly panned the game's referee for making a bad call that virtually decided the outcome of the match. And after a loss against Lazio in the Europa League, St. Etienne manager Bernard Caiazzo criticized the referee as a "disgrace to football," citing his "malevolence and incompetence."

Stories like this aren't particularly rare. Soccer fans have been taking out their frustrations on referees for generations now. But disrespect toward referees seems to have hit a fever pitch this season, with Chelsea's Jose Mourinho especially coming under fire for his behavior in interactions with match officials.

The question is, why is referee disrespect such a big problem? Are today's players and managers just hotheaded individuals with little class, tact, and self-control? Or are today's referees, as Caiazzo suggested, disgracing the game of football with their incompetence and self-importance?

Shop at Soccer Box

The Chelsea Incidents

Jose Mourinho clearly thinks incompetence and bias are the problems. On October 5th, Chelsea lost 1-3 to Southampton after referee Robert Madley failed to call an arguably-deserved penalty for Mourinho's squad. Striker Radamel Falcao was brought down by Southampton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg but was controversially denied a spot-kick opportunity.

Mourinho spoke out about the issue after the game, saying that "referees are afraid to give decisions for Chelsea." He knew the comment was rash, and also said that "If the FA wants to punish me, they can punish me. They do not punish other managers; they punish me."

Punish him they did, charging him with misconduct for "imply[ing] bias on the part of a match official." He was given a £50,000 fine and a one-match stadium ban for the comments but is appealing the decision.

The other misconduct charge Mourinho is facing comes from the aforementioned October 24th match against West Ham, which Chelsea lost 1-2 after playing with 10 men during the second half. When midfielder Nemanja Matic earned two yellow cards in quick succession just before halftime, he was sent off with a red card by referee Jonathan Moss. Other players in the Chelsea away jersey 2015 2016 quickly came to Matic's defense, huddling around Moss to argue the decision, but their efforts were rebuffed as he handed additional yellow cards to both Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas.

Allegedly, Mourinho and his assistant coach Silvino Louro confronted Moss in the tunnel on the way to the locker rooms. According to Moss's report, Mourinho hurled a string of insults at the referee, and both Mourinho and Louro were exiled to the stands for the second half. Mourinho has now been issued with a further stadium ban and additional £40,000 fine.

Other Issues

Mourinho's behavior certainly isn't the most upstanding in soccer management history. The Portuguese coach is a bit of a hothead-particularly right now when he is under immense pressure to turn things around at Chelsea. Still, a £50,000 fine is a hilariously hyperbolic punishment for what amounted to a coach expressing frustration about the officiating in a soccer match. The fine is especially bad since Falcao should have been awarded a penalty in that Southampton game.

It's fine for the FA to stand behind their refs and fight disrespect. But the association is acting like its officials are infallible and above criticism, which isn't the case. Robert Madley has had a particularly poor showing this season, first coming under fire for the Chelsea-Southampton match, and then being accused of handing Sunderland a win in the Wear-Tyne Derby against Newcastle on October 24th.

Newcastle outplayed Sunderland in almost every way but was left strongly disadvantaged when their captain, Fabricio Coloccini, was sent off at the end of the first half for a shoulder barging incident. At most, the move should have earned a yellow card for Coloccini and a spot kick for Sunderland. Instead, it put Newcastle down a man for the game's crucial second half, ultimately resulting in a 1-2 loss.

Similarly, St. Etienne lost 2-3 in a Europa League match against Lazio, ending the game with nine men following two crushing red cards.

What do you think of the officiating in professional football? Are referees abusing their power and throwing two many red cards, to the point where they are actively determining the outcomes of matches? Or do players and managers just need to respect the rules and the refs better? Soccer Box wants to hear your thoughts! Link up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google +, or LinkedIn to discuss the issue.