Friday, August 27, 2010


Five Blind Mice

An incident in Thursday morning's Champions League playoff tie between Tottenham and Young Boys of Berne perfectly illustrated the utter fatuity of UEFA's "five officials" experiment, which has been extended to their premier club competition this year.

Ten eyes are better than six, the argument goes, especially when deciding on contentious decisions in and around the box...especially the dreaded "did it cross the line?" cases. Such cases, however, occur maybe once in every five or six hours of football, if that. Infinitely more common are instances of disputed offside, possible handball and the like. The extra two officials are completely useless in such situtations, as Tottenham's second "goal" demonstrated all too clearly.

Half the stadium would have seen Jermain Defoe control the ball with his hand before firing Spurs into a 2-0 lead. The referee and his assistants, however, belogned to the other half. No-one saw nuthin', and the goal was allowed to stand.

To make, for the umpteenth time on this blog, the screamingly obvious point: were the officials to be granted access to video technology, a ten-second referral to an official in the stands would be quite sufficient to judge the legality or otherwise of such a goal. A drag on the pace of the game, Messrs. Platini, Blatter et al.? Look at the endless petulant ranting at the referee after a controversial goal (or a disallowed goal), the time it takes the ref to re-establish order, and then tell me that video referrals would waste time.

The five-official experiment is a ludicrously ill-conceived ploy to prevent what must surely, in the wake of the Lampard/Tevez controversies at the World Cup, come to pass: the gradual introduction of technological assistance for football referees. Only twenty-five years too late.

Hi there, you are perfectly right. From Italy to Australia, tech in the game. Ciao!
Would you have called the handball or the push in the back?
I can foresee a time when there are about 50 officals along each goal line, including some on the roof of the goal itself with their eyes fixed on the goal line when they aren't falling asleep. "We must keep the game human and the same at all levels!" Blatter continues to cry in his 92389348th term as FIFA president, as even most semi-professional games around the world begin to be played in front of more officials than spectators.
I'd love for slippery-slope-deniers to tell me the last time there was a game of cricket where the umpire made a run-out decision without going to video.
...I'd love for slippery-slope-deniers to tell me the last time there was a game of cricket where the umpire made a run-out decision without going to video....

The difference is that by the very nature of run-outs, a referral is necessary every time. With offside calls, a referral would only be necessary if the sequence of play results in a goal.

This is another point I never tire of making: the current phenomenon of linesmen being terrified to make a mistake resulting in a goal, and therefore vastly favouring the defending side on offside calls (and thereby causing far more unnecessary stoppages than a sensible use of video technology would, incidentally) would disappear pretty quickly if video referral for disputed offside goals were implemented. This constitutes a sensible admission that linesmen may make mistakes in such situations, and the freedom to make mistakes would encourage them to let the play continue when in doubt.
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