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Back from never been there: the video ref

By Walter Broeckx

People who have followed Untold over the years will know that I and most of the rest of the writers here are strongly in favour of what we call ‘the video referee’.

The video referee that has been back on the main pages (well at least on arsenal.com) this time. Aaron Ramsey talked about it after he found out that his goal against Liverpool was wrongly ruled out for offside.

He said amongst a few other things: “football can learn from rugby when it comes to the use of video technology. The replays suggest I was onside so it should have stood,” he said. “But the linesman thought it was offside. Those things happen. On another day, we would have been 1-0 up. To look at a video for 20 seconds would maybe have changed the outcome of the game.

“I think we can take a leaf out of rugby’s book. They do it really well. You see on the screens, they go up there for 20 seconds and they get the decision right in the end. Football can learn something from that.”

Of course we full stand behind the way of thinking of Ramsey. But I think that he was even rather generous about the 20 seconds. I think it could have been dealt with even faster than 20 seconds. So the video ref is back in the (social) media and being talked about. Many people are in favour but a lot of them don’t want to see it happening.
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Now I know that the video ref cannot solve every problem. At least not in the way football is refereed now. It will need extra instructions for referees and assistants to make it work as good as can be. And even then human errors might be irreparable in some incidents.  For instance when the assistant gives an offside and the video ref can see it isn’t offside but the ref has blown his whistle. What cannot change is that once the ref has blown the ball is dead and all what follows is non-existent.
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I have seen arguments saying: as long as you cannot repair that better to do nothing at all.  Of course if mankind would have been following that route in their history we never would have played football and Tony and I would have run out of our caves looking to see what animal we would kill today and eat it raw. Surely there would be no internet to worry about. Or even football at all. Because if you can’t make everything perfect from the first time, you make no progress at all and leave everything like it was.
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I agree with the fact that that one situation where the assistant really messed up and the ref blew immediately and stopped the match wrongly cannot be repaired now. But will we therefore do nothing about the rest of the decisions where the video ref could do a job in a few seconds? Because of 1% of the decisions not being fixable we will leave the 99% decisions that can be fixed out there and do nothing about them?
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I really cannot agree with such a way of thinking.
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Each improvement should be embraced with open arms and implemented as soon as possible. And to counter that one  possible error we could just instruct the assistants that in case of close calls they do nothing at all. They should only make the clear calls that are 100% certain. And if are not able to do that…they should be replaced by people who are capable of doing so.
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As I have done matches with headsets myself I know the possibilities there are with this development.  If the video ref and the four refs near the field are all miked up and can hear each other the assistant who has a close call can just shout in his microphone: ‘close call’ use the beep-signal in the flag and the video ref can check it from the best possible angle and stay close to give a verdict if a goal or other incident comes from this situation. So the assistant in such a close call moment will no longer raise his flag but all the officials will know that there might come an interference from the video ref if needed.
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If it was offside and a goal is scored it can be ruled out quickly. If no goal was scored and it was offside but the ball goes to the defending team they can restart the match or in the case where the defenders have won the ball back they can carry on playing. If no goal was scored but the attacking team keeps the ball the video ref can announce the offside and the free kick can be given to the defending team.
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As all PL grounds have big screens now (an obligation if you want to play in the PL I think) the incident can be shown on the screen for the crowd so they know what happened and  be happy or unhappy with the decision but they will at least know that the final decision was correct.
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For those who might say: ‘you only support video refs because Arsenal were on the wrong end of a decision against Liverpool’ I could point out at the dozens of articles I have written about it. I have linked to the website of the Dutch KNVB who have done great testing on this.
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No ,I am in favour of bringing this to the game as soon as possible.  And believe me I will accept anything that goes against Arsenal when it happens. Because then I will know that all is done and used to be sure that the decisions are as correct as can be.
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And that is all I, as a ref, want. That is what all refs should want. That is what the top refs in Holland have said they wanted. We (all of those in favour) want one thing: that the match is being refereed in the best humanly possible way and where the human body fails, the technology steps in to help us in making the correct decisions.  In fact that is what each and every sportsman/woman should want. That is what each supporter should really want: that everything is done to make sure that the decisions are correct.
Much money, but even more importantly for me much happiness depends on those decisions. So let us make sure that the video ref is introduced in football in the near future. I can’t wait until that day to be honest. That’s why we do ref reviews of course but in much more difficult circumstances than the video ref would do as he has all the angles at his disposal. We are depending on the camera angles from the media and they don’t always show the best angle. But that is their involvement and their problem of course.
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22 comments to Back from never been there: the video ref

  • para

    I suspect the media has their own agenda for not wanting video refs. We know they used to show every offside from all angles but now not all of them are shown every time. They also give a huge amount of money to the clubs so will want to have some say in it too. I for one cannot see why anyone would be against it.

    This idea of disrupting the game may be one of their reasonings. Remember how they all are so united on the ref not giving cards in the first 10-15 mins of the game? This is stupid too. When ever a foul occurs it should be first a warning, second a yellow, third a red. Simple. Of course if the first foul deserves more than a warning, or even more than a yellow, then so be it, the red should be given.

    I guarantee within a few months the PL will be so good as to be almost injury free. Of course some will take longer to learn, but at least they will have the punishment to help them to learn. There is too much leniency in football leaving too much room for manipulation.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    MR. W Broeckx, good evening to you. You said you will like to see the offside video call introduced in the near future? To me, It should be introduce in the immediate future. Say from 2016/17 football season in England that is the home of football. Being that, it should be the English FA that is spear heading the introduction of the offside video call technology and not to be shying away from it. The goal line technology was introduced after the public outcry that followed the non awarding of Frank Lampard’s equalizing goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup Finals. So, what are the FA & the Pgmo afraid of, if they are after fairness in the game and not a hidden agenda to favour a team against another one. If the goal line technology has not failed, definately, the Hawker offside video call technology will also not fail. The earlier the FA & the Pgmo embrace this technology, the better it will be for fairness officiating of the game. Arsenal were cheated of possibly 2 more points to the 1 they got from their last Monday home game against Liverpool. And Liverpool have been unfairly given 4 or 6 points to the 3 or 4 points they would have gotten. Just what is that? A mockery of the game?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    MR. W Broeckx, good evening to you. You said you will like to see the offside video call introduced in the near future? To me, It should be introduced in the immediate future. Say from 2016/17 football season in England that is the home of football. Being that, it should be the English FA that is spear heading the introduction of the offside video call technology and not to be shying away from it. The goal line technology was introduced after the public outcry that followed the non awarding of Frank Lampard’s equalizing goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup Finals. So, what are the FA & the Pgmo afraid of, if they are after fairness in the game and not a hidden agenda to favour a team against another one? If the goal line technology has not failed, definately, the Hawker offside video call technology will also not fail. The earlier the FA & the Pgmo embrace this technology, the better it will be for fairness officiating of the game. Arsenal were cheated of possibly 2 more points to the 1 they got from their last Monday home game against Liverpool. And Liverpool have been unfairly given 4 or 6 points to the 3 or 4 points they would have gotten. Just what is that? A mockery of the game?

  • Gouresh

    For this to work, the refs have to be honest. In rugby, the ref is the one who calls for the video replay. Our refs should understand that the video tech is not to catch them out but to assist them. Since we know the integrity to our refs is impeccable, most of the marginal calls will be ignored. Then you will have a debate that these calls should be made by a fourth official. Who will decide if its marginal or not? The managers will constantly hound this official. To keep it really clean, the way forward is to have an independent panel, chosen at the last minute so he/she or they cannot be influenced.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The reason those in power refuse video ref is more to do with the spirit of Al Capone, than their suggested motive, the beautiful game being allowed to flow.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Personally, I think that the introduction of a video referee (for all goals) would dove-tail nicely with the introduction of a stop time 70 minute match. Because the clock stops with the whistle of the referee, a video replay would not add or subtract time from the match nor give extra discretion to a referee to tilt a match in the closing moments. Furthermore, all video replays could be sent to a central command room where league officials (not PGMO officials) would make a quick call. As for the amount of time that this would take…after years of watching opposition keepers fiddle with the ball before each goal kick, a 30 second review would hardly change things.

  • Al

    The only people opposed to this idea know they, or someone they know/like, benefits from the ‘mistakes’ officials make, or allows them to manipulate things in their favour. It’s that simple really.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    It has got to come sometime, personally the sooner the better. I am a firm believer in all Important Decisions (second yellow, red cards, penalties and goals) being reviewed by the officials and with team captains/managers being allowed to review two incidents per half. If on review the challenge is upheld the team retain their challenge, if the original decision is proved correct the challenge is lost. I also fully support the introduction of a running 70 minute clock which would add up to 10 minutes playing time per game (stopped from the referees whistle to the first touch after the ball enters play). Simples

  • Menace

    Video replays – Yes. Cameras must be set within the stadia in same relative positions to ensure standards.

    Andrew Crawshank – agreed. Challenges however might be difficult to ensure fairness.

    The 70min clock will ensure value for the fan. Currently the fans are not getting 60 minutes (with time wasting robbing cost of product).

    Technology that does goal line can be used for off side. Multiple cameras can create precision 3D positioning of players & ball for video decisions.

    PGMO needs to be replaced prior to any change as officiating must be answerable to supporter forum.

  • Pete

    The point is that almost every other major sport has done this. In most cases 10+ years ago.

    There is no reason not to do it, it will come in eventually (perhaps after FIFA has been cleaned up… if). We will all then wonder why it wasn’t done around year 2000.

  • Minutes from this years IFAB AGM
    http://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/ifab/02/60/90/85/2015agm_minutes_v10_neutral.pdf

    Match time –
    “4. Law 7 – Duration of the match – “Stopping the clock” – Proposal by US Soccer
    History / summary
    This matter was brought to The IFAB by US Soccer, who suggested the
    introduction of “public” time keeping, whereby the duration of the match
    is still controlled by the referee, but displayed to everyone in the
    stadium/TV spectators.

    Feedback from members
    All members agreed that the referee should be in control of the duration
    of the game and that the time should not be displayed. The members
    highlighted that nowadays an average match would be of around 55
    minutes playing time and were worried that the match might be greatly
    prolonged due to having the official time stopped; this would have a
    great influence on logistics, broadcast time, stewarding, security,
    transportation etc.

    Decisions / next steps
    • The proposal was not approved”

    55mins average play time is this acceptable?

    Video Ref –
    “6. Video replay for match officials
    History / summary
    PN informed the members of different discussions, ideas and proposals
    surrounding the use of video replay technology as a support for the
    referee. He mentioned that the KNVB had conducted an (offline)
    experiment, using referee video assistance based on video footage
    provided by broadcasters’ cameras. He added that, during the
    experiment, the referee could have received additional information from
    a so-called video assistant (in a separate room / van) with access to
    camera footage and the ability to inform the referee instantly via a
    headset in crucial situations which appear difficult to be seen by the
    referee.”
    “On behalf of FIFA, JB stated that The IFAB functions as guardian of the
    game and has in the past decided not to go any further with technology
    than goal-line technology. He added that one must be very careful in this
    matter and must consider all relevant facts before taking any important
    decisions. JB also stated that FIFA – representing the remaining 205
    member associations – is currently reluctant to approve any
    experiments.
    It was added that the game of football is changing and expanding all the
    time and with that the impact of getting a decision wrong is increasing.
    Therefore, more experiments should be conducted with video assistance
    in order to understand its potential advantages and disadvantages fully
    before a decision can be taken.

    Decisions / next steps
    • The proposal was not approved
    • Further exploration by Advisory Panels”

    So, IFAB is under FIFA and “FIFA – representing the remaining 205
    member associations – is currently reluctant to approve any
    experiments.”

    Up the gunners!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Is there anything stopping individual clubs from filming their home games with their own cameras and replaying it on their own websites ? Any mistakes can be highlighted ,so that a clearer picture of the refs action/inaction is there for all to see .
    This would not infringe on any copyrights and clips will not be taken off on accord of this , as is being done now.
    Instead of listening to muppets , we can get an unbiased view from right and proper experts , including refs .

  • WalterBroeckx

    Gunz, thanks for that very interesting link.

    My God so IFAB/FIFA is saying that the match on average only is around 55 minutes with the ball in play and they feel fine about that!!!????

    As I said before IFAB is for half of the board filled with the home countries FA representatives. So you know who to blame for ‘time standing still’…

  • WalterBroeckx

    It also shows that for some strange (really?? ) reason IFAB wants everything to happen in a shady environment. Nothing can be made public (like open time keeping) and it all has to happen in the dark. And then one wonders how it comes that people get suspicious when it comes to football and refereeing issues. If the leading commission on the laws of the games wants everything covered up then we now understand the way the PGMO is set up and working a bit better.

    FICK FUFA and now FICK IFAB

  • apo Armani

    Good read Walter, and the link which Gunz posted must make us all really understand the corruption-infested, football administrators THRIVE in!!!

    How they can come out and say they are “clean” really boggles the mind.

    The fact that only a handful of them are behind bars makes me wonder if Law makers and Governments aren’t involved in this cash rich cow called football !!

  • nicky

    @Samuel Adebosin,
    Why do you repeat every comment you make? Do you stammer?

  • nicky

    Walter,
    Your interesting post seemed to me to concentrate on video technology to obviate human error by match officials.
    Equally important, IMO, it would counter the outright bias which some corrupt officials continue to practice. 😉

  • para

    Brickfields Gunners

    Arsenal does this already at Home, although they only show it in features like: “See the game from different angles” articles etc.

    When i watch the game for my second time on Arsenal Player, it is mostly the same feed that the TV media recorded, although sometimes we do get to see it from Arsenal cameras.

    There might some sort of contract for them to not be able to show full games on Arsenal player using their own cameras?

  • Menace

    Gunz – that IFAB info was excellent. Thank you. 55minutes means that all fans must have a 45% refund of ticket cost!! It should be added to the citizens charter on value for money.

    It is easy to evade a fair time keeper with excuses of infrastructure & policing but that is not the issue. The Laws state (90 minutes) 2 halves of 45 minutes. That is what should be delivered. Change it to suit reality (55 minutes) & I’m sure fans that travel for 2+ hours to get to matches will drop out. The fair 70mins as previously stated would be ‘do able’.

    IFAB have a lot to answer for in terms of adhering to the Laws. Officiating should be correct for the whole match. None of this first 10mins freebies & cards only in the second half (unless it is Arsenal). In my view the Laws should be adhered to from the first whistle. The sporting aspects need to be clearly defined ( injuries & players putting the ball out) as there are unsporting incidents & time wasting.

  • Al

    nicky
    Instead of being mean to Samuel perhaps you could have tried to offer some advice. I suspect he refreshes his browser soon after posting resulting in the post being submitted again. To be honest I’d rather read Samuel’s duplicated posts than some of the aaaa dross I see on here 🙂

    Gunz
    Thanks for the link. Very interesting indeed. It confirms what we already knew, we the fans are getting robbed blind. How come tennis, cricket etc, sports which are notoriously difficult to predict actual match time for, don’t present these logistical challenges being feebly put forward as arguments here by the IFAB? And I’d say it’d be very interesting to take a match that was played 3, 4 or 5 decades ago and compare the playing time from there against one played last weekend. I don’t know the answer but I will be very surprised if they’re both around the quoted 55 minutes.

  • soglorious

    Nicky, its the refresh/submit button that causes the duplicate submission not a deliberate thing.

    Walter, as much as I have been in support if the video Ref, your suggestion that the Linesman calls out for a close call is what I feel will be a stumbling block to the successful usage of the tech . ..
    How are we sure the linesman will be humble and truthful enough to admit that. I bet Mike Dean will see it to mean he is incapable of his job.

  • Gord

    This comment is a day after the last one, possibly too late. I think Untold should find someone who has experience with Google Glasses, or a military background with a Heads-Up Display.

    Tell us about how those technologies work in the context of refereeing.