VIDEO REPLAYS CAN RELIEVE UNDER-FIRE OFFICIALS
It is a debate that rears its ugly head on a regular basis, as big decisions continue to decide games that can matter so much come the end of the season.
Arsene Wenger has been dealt with by the FA, will he learn his lesson from such a sanction? Probably not.
The deeper issue is how we can help these officials. In a world where paralysis by analysis is very much the norm, it is all well and good pointing out what officials have done wrong, but they are human beings, and can’t be programmed to see things they are not in position to, and make the correct call, in that split second they have to think about it.
Still we wrangle about whether videos replays will help stricken referees’ cause. After all, we don’t want to upset the traditions of the beautiful game, or slow the match down too much.
With most major sports embracing the wealth of technology we have at our disposal, its introduction in football is inevitable, but why not start right now, implementing a system that is quick, completely subjective, where the decision can be overturned or confirmed as correct in the blink of an eye?
I know what it is like. Having officiated on the line and as the man in the middle from Saturday morning U11s to Premier League academy level, I have experienced all the abuse, the constant barrage of doubt, and questioned my own ability on a regular basis as a result.
As a linesman, you have parents in your ear, following you up and down the line, protesting every time that flag goes above waste height. The full-back stands with his arm held aloft for the majority of the match, while you’ve more chance of be awarded a knighthood than getting “you’re right, liner” from any striker.
The higher up the ladder you get, the more intense all the scrutiny becomes. At the very top you could get pushed by a manager, have Monday Night Football panelists telling you that you are incompetent after the umpteenth replay, do you job with thousands of fans right behind you, all while a Twitter parody account is made in your honour.
Jon Moss is this week’s Referee in the Spotlight. Having already given Burnley a late-gasp penalty down one end, he then returned the favour by awarding Arsenal an even later one, converted by Alexis Sanchez, keeping their title bid alive in the process. Both decisions were correct, I might add.
The latter penalty award infuriated the opposition manager this time, Sean Dyche, for an altogether different reason.
“It is offside, it is as simple as that, and that has cost us a point which could be the difference between relegation and staying up,” Dyche said post match on Sunday. “At this level, that is an obvious decision. You expect the officials to see that. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We are good at not getting involved in too much disappointment.
Dyche is right. Laurent Koscielny was offside as he was fouled by Ben Mee deep into stoppage time, and that linesman’s flag would have ensured Burnley earned that deserve draw.
It is all well and good pointing out that the decision was wrong, but how do we ensure it doesn’t keep happening. Well, it is simple, according to Dyche.
“Video replays are the future, whether I am a fan are not’” Dyche added. “Two points have been taken away by a decision. It is therefore highly likely that some form of video replay will come in. It is tough coming to places like this.”
Correct, once again. We have the cameras already set up, the very ones used to scrutinise every decision. Why not just have another official in the stands, watching the same screens, who can review the decision, straight away, and tell the linesman he is wrong? Ten seconds, and the right decision could be made.
This is similar to Hawk-Eye in tennis – did that serve clip the line or not? Or whether it is a No ball in cricket – was the bowler’s foot over the line or not? The same simple yes or no decision applies to offside. Interpretation does not come into it.
The wider usage of videos replays can be continue to be discussed, but starting with help for linesman is a no-brainer. No punishment needs to be dealt out when they get it wrong, just put it down to human error.
The majority of sports adopt at least some technology. It is time for football to get on board.