Help the referees ref

Technology in football is an issue that polarises fans of the sport. I for one back those that are for the implementation of devices that would aid officials.

The debate has been rumbling on for some time now with both sides continually arguing their stance passionately. Those against the carrying out video reference believe that you would be opening up Pandora’s Box if these proposals became a reality.

However, I disagree that any sort of intelligent idea, which would help referees carry out their remit should be dismissed without any sort of trial. The main argument that I regularly hear on radio and television is that it would slow the game down, a stance that is nonsense. If that was the case, how come goal-line technology is now quicker in getting the correct answer to the official. Previously, they had to consult with their linesman before a decision was made. A verdict which could be difficult to make correctly within a couple of seconds.

Football has slowed down as it is with players systematically time wasting. A tactic employed by most teams, certainly those that are clever enough to use it to their advantage. Footballers go down “injured” when holding on to a lead late in the game, and employ a fake hobble when going off for “treatment.”

Another example being the player about to be substituted in injury time always seem to be in the far corner of the field of play. They then proceed to seek out the man in black for a handshake and clap all areas of the stadium before trundling off the park.

Then all of a sudden the keeper needs to clean his studs on the post before a goal kick. As it must have been proving that the 92nd minute of the match is the optimal time to do so. All three of these events in succession could take minutes of a match. Considering the ball is only live on average for an hour of a 90-minute game. It cannot be classified as a free-flowing sport, no more so than Rugby for example.

I would like to see the man in the middle allowed to refer situations to a ‘fifth-official’ who is watching the game in a booth. There he can make informed decisions about the big incidents within 15 seconds of it happening.

I am not proposing that every decision should be referred. But, if the ref and their assistants are unsure if it was a penalty, red card challenge or an offside leading to a goal, these situations should be reviewed. It should just be limited to these cases as they are key to the outcome of a fixture. Anything else is subjective to the score line, yes players can score from direct free kicks, but they are not as likely.

They should be allowed these decisions to be adjudicated on by someone that is allowed the use of replays. If a decision cannot be decided then the referee on the pitch should have the final say as they should not be undermined. This would certainly improve the image of the sport.

On Match of the Day and on Sky’s Super Sunday, pundits will break down an incorrect decision with the use of the multiple camera angles. However, the officials do not get that luxury, they get one in the moment and yes they will occasionally come to the wrong conclusion.

The berating they receive from stadium goers and media alike is unacceptable and not conducive to getting the best out of them. In many cases you will get the ex-players unable to agree on the decision after numerous looks at it, even slowed down. Then they want the call made to be the correct one.

The product on a whole would be improved if rights holders can stop talking about contentious decisions and discuss the intricacies of the match. Allowing the officials to use the same technology they are using to broadcast their stream on would help all parties involved and improve football.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.


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