Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The Video Refusers - update, Part 2

To continue my list of suggestions for the introduction of video technology in football:

3. In or out?

Because penalties are such crucial events in a game, I feel that referees should be provided with every assistance possible to determine whether a penalty decision should be given or not. However, in the case of mere "interpretation" of fouls, as I stated in Part 1, constant reference to replays would be cumbersome and not even particularly helpful. But in the simple determination of whether the initial contact was made inside or outside the area, there is every reason to go to the video.

A genuinely hard-to-judge case of this type would only occur about once in every three hours of football, on average, so the delay would not be especially irksome. Crowds and TV viewers are used to quite considerable delays at free kicks and penalties in any event. There is always the danger that referees would rely on the replay for an in-or-out call even when their naked eye should be more than sufficient (as cricket umpires have done recently with run-outs), but with some common sense from all parties, I don't think this would be an insuperable difficulty.

4. Did it cross the line?

Ah yes...the famous "1966" problem.

This is a difficult case, because open play can often continue quite normally after such a disputed goal (it's even possible for the "defending" team to score on the break within seconds). So how to use the video replay wisely in this case?

To my mind, the only way it could be fairly introduced is if a natural break in play (the ball crossing the goal-line, or, more commonly, the goalkeeper gathering the ball) occurs immediately after the maybe-goal, at which time the replay could be consulted. I say "fairly" although many will clamour that this is unfair, in that some goal-line decisions would then be reviewed while others would be ignored.

But this brings me back to my cardinal, basic point: the idea is not to make the decision-making process perfect, but to make it better...or rather, to make it as good as it can be without introducing excessive delays to the game. And to the objection that such use of video evidence would only be available to those at the top end of the football tree, and that it is therefore "discriminatory" in some sense, my reply is the same as it always was: how many fourth officials do you see in suburban AA4 games?

I am basically a convert Mike, especially if video usage was limited by the sort of sensible criteria you're discussing.
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