Case Study: Atkinson Shows Grace Under Fire

In a recent Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United, referee Martin Atkinson typified the English style of player management: cool, calm and collected, despite circumstances that tested him.

In the 25th minute of the match, Atkinson sent off Newcastle player Cheick Tiote for violent conduct when the player went into a challenge studs up after the whistle sounded for a foul.

The send off is fairly straightforward, as we see in frames 1-6 of the gallery (click to enlarge).

In the ensuing nonsense that seems to accompany all soccer/football matches these days, Newcastle player Shola Ameobi (#23) approaches Atkinson aggressively and enters his personal space to argue against the send off of his teammate.

The intensity level was quite high, with Atkinson having just sent off a player, early, in a derby (rivalry) match. In spite of these conditions, Atkinson remains a picture of composure. He shows #23 a yellow card for dissent, and keeps the card out as a clear threat that he is willing to use it again. All without a raised voice, “away” gestures, and or even the appearance of concern.
While Atkinson’s approach may not work in every situation, it is clear that his composed demeanor helped calm the situation. As much “stick” as the referees seem to get in England, it is clear the FA and PGMO are doing something right.

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