By Walter Broeckx
In the article about the possible introduction of video refereeing in the PL you can read the reaction of Graham Poll and that was rather typical for how referees are. I will quote from his reaction:
“Hallelujah! That was my first reaction to the news that professional clubs are being asked their opinions on the introduction of technology prior to a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in March.”
Then he goes on: “When refereeing at the top level I was opposed to a wide-ranging introduction and indeed the yielding of match control to a video official or allowing managers a number of appeals against decisions.”
And that is the problem with many referees. Some really think they don’t make mistakes. I have never been of that opinion. I realise that I can make mistakes. I will do all I can to avoid it but I really know that I will make wrong decisions. Referees are human beings and no matter what, we all will make mistakes.
Poll goes on: “Both could seriously undermine the credibility and authority of the man in the middle and yield them virtually redundant. However, times have changed massively since 2007. The modern-day game is much faster and players dive and simulate far more often, which has made most referees change their approach to one which minimises penalising foul play.”
And this is a typical ex-referee reaction. He is saying, “In my days when I made only correct decisions, it wasn’t needed but the games has become faster so now it is needed.”
Mr. Poll with all respect: we could have used it also in your refereeing days. The game was maybe slower but so were most referees who were part timers and not as trained as the current referees. Most referees are well trained today when it comes to running around on the field. Most, not all. That is something I give them.
But what Poll now is realising is that a video ref is not there to undermine the referee but to HELP him. There will be no more surrounding of referees or assistants to put pressure on them. There will be no more need to do this as the video ref will make the final call. So the respect for a referee who made a correct decisions on the field that will be confirmed by the video ref will grow. Then people can say: hey look that was a though call but the ref got it right on the field. Great decision from the ref. And if he gets it wrong people will say: “it was difficult to see, but the result is fair for both teams and that is all what matters”.
Poll also said: “Decisions are examined almost forensically and no mistake is left unexposed.” I don’t know if he is talking about Untold Arsenal to be honest. Because the TV channels do seem to do this from time to time but I noticed a bit of bias in the way they do some things. I have noticed in MOTD that at times they just skip some important wrong decisions from the refs in Arsenal matches from their report. As if it never happened. The Italian way perhaps.
Mr. Poll said: “At least commentators and pundits acknowledge that at full speed and with only one view some decisions are tough to get right.”
And that is exactly the point I have been making all those years. But for me as a referee this is breaking ranks. Well in some parts it is. As in Holland they find it no problem to admit this. In fact the first step to improving yourself as a referee is to admit that you made mistakes and then try to learn from them and try to improve your decision making.
But in these days with players faking, diving around it is very difficult to get it all right. I know that. But if Untold hadn’t been exposing the mistakes people would have brushed it away. Or used stupid phrases like: it all evens out in the end. For the umpteenth time: NO IT DOESN’T EVEN OUT! For Arsenal to take one example it never has ended up with the same numbers going in our favour or going against us. So forget it. It doesn’t even out! FACT!
Poll then goes on saying that it doesn’t mean it will be introduced any time soon. IFAB first has to give their approval and more importantly… the PL clubs have to agree.
I can imagine when the letter came to the Arsenal mail box and Wenger was asked for his opinion he will have answered this request with : YES, YES and YES!!!
We have been on the end of far too many wrong decisions in the past and it has cost us a few trophies in the last 10 years. So anything that will improve the decisions on the field should be welcomed with open arms. And I think Arsenal will welcome it with open arms.
The only thing that I have wanted all these years when doing the referee review was to come to a situation where when the final whistle is blown by the referee on the field all the fans can go home in the knowledge that they may not like the final result but at least that it has come from fair and correct decisions from the referees.
That is all I wanted to happen when I go to London to see a match. Or any match in the PL that is being played. I have known that we couldn’t win matches because of terrible referee decisions. Getting a text message from one of my sons saying the ref made a terrible mistake by disallowing a good Arsenal goal that would have won us the match within seconds after the mistake makes going home very long and a sour trip. We have lost matches when all was fair. No problem with that. But losing because of a mistake that can be corrected within seconds is not a nice feeling.
Of course we still have a long way to go. Will the removal of Blatter and Platini because of corruption help in getting video referees? They have always opposed to something like that so it might be that new people at the top of football might bring change to this.
So let us hope that we will come to a time where we will know that decisions can be as perfect as possible during the match. I will open a bottle to celebrate on the day it will happen. As a referee and a football lover.
- 25 December 1952: Bolton 4 Arsenal 6 – Arsenal’s highest league aggregate on Christmas Day. Holton scored 2, Milton, Logie, Ropier and Daniel got the others. Arsenal scored 33 goals in nine games
- 25 December 1954: Danny Clapton’s first game. Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0. This turned out to be Arsenal’s last Christmas Day game at Highbury. Tapscott scored. The crowd was 47,178.
- 25 December 1956: Christmas day league games ended in 1956 with Arsenal away to Chelsea, the result being a 1-1 draw. Boxing Day games continued however, meaning players still had to train on Christmas Day.
And in case you got a Kindle for Christmas
Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed football, is now available on Kindle at £9.99. For more details and to buy a copy please click here or go to Amazon Kindle and search for Woolwich Arsenal.