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A typical referee reaction to allowing video refereeing.

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.

More anniversaries

  • 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.

17 comments to A typical referee reaction to allowing video refereeing.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    How then do referees in other professional sports that use video assistance, maintain their ‘credibility and authority’? Seriously, the PGMO is losing credibility and authority by resisting this.

    Additionally, the Premier League ought to watch an American football match sometime. The commentators openly question whether the referees get decisions correct or not.

  • Usama Zaka

    Well said Walter. I going through the Questionnaire Form for the clubs in the link you posted, which was then judged by Graham Poll (the only ref in the world to give 3 yellow cards to an individual player 😀 )

    |||||||||This is what he has to say about Q4.

    4 What length of time is appropriate to stop the game to review a decision or for the remote referee to review a decision before advising the referee to stop the game?

    a) 15 seconds

    b) 30 seconds

    c) 45 seconds

    d) Less than 2 minutes

    e) As long as it takes

    POLL’S verdict: Reviews that cannot clarify a decision within 30 seconds should result in the referee’s original decision being upheld.

    Poll says the review must be done in 30 seconds only not any longer. As it is said in the English media that the flow of the game will be disturbed. WHHAAT Rubbish ?!?!

    Mr. Poll and the English media should know for a fact that thanks to BPL one-ball rule every goal kick and corner kick takes at least 30 seconds to be taken on a regular basis.

    And according to the Laws of the Game this stoppage cannot be added to the stoppage time, it can only be added if the goal kick or corner takes longer than the average time, which in BPL’s case is 35 or 40 seconds.

    I believe the Less than 2 minutes option is fair enough for the broadcasting companies, both the playing teams, and the referees all together as it will provide a great chance to the video ref to give the correct decision without any huge pressure of small time limit.

  • Alex

    now now Walter did he say : “In my days when I made only correct decisions, it wasn’t needed but the games has become faster so now it is needed.” or did you imply him saying that?

    I am personally all for the video ref. Also I wouldn’t stop there, the discipline, fairness and honesty of players is a major factor here that is in question. Other sports have monetary penalties for simulation of a foul which in itself is considered an unsportsmanlike behaviour.

    Not only should every ‘diving’ simulating player be punished with yellow card, they should face monetary fines as well. That is a common practice in many basketball leagues around the world, but as you say Walter this will take time and Blatter and Platini being banned is hopefully a first step towards many issues that must be addressed in football at some point.

  • Al

    GIG
    Spot on. In other sports with video refereeing the refs have not been made redundant, but become more respected, e.g, rugby. Graham poll’s response, apart from the opening “hallelujah!” is utter nonsense. As Usama pointed out, with video refereeing in place he would not have shown one player 3 yellow cards in a single match, and not been sent home in shame.

  • Al

    Sorry, GIG should read GGG; my phone thinking it knows better than me, again 🙂

  • Jambug

    Alex

    Cricket, the most gentlemanly game of all is full of ‘cheats’.

    Appeals for LBW when the ball was clearly missing the stumps.

    Appeals for catches when the ball clearly missed the bat.

    Batsman not walking when they clearly got a nick.

    Personally I never gave a shit. It was up to the umpire to make the decision and get it right.

    Are the bowlers ‘cheats’ to appeal, knowing it was missing ?

    The Batsman ‘cheats’ for not to walking, knowing they nicked it?

    I don’t think so. That’s what the ‘Umpire’ is thee for after all. If everyone was ‘honest’ we wouldn’t need one would we?

    I’ve never had this great moral issue with ‘diving’ per say. It’s up to the ref to GET IT RIGHT !!

    I concede it’s tough, and mistakes will be made, but mistakes are not the issue that I, or I believe Untold Arsenal have. I think we all concede that mistakes will happen.

    Mistakes are not the issue, BIAS is the issue.

    And if video refs can iron out the bias then I’m all for it. Anything has got to be better than what we have now.

  • Alex

    Agreed… Once you out it that way… And that’s one more reason why the clubs and pgmol should go with it, it doesn’t undermine refs, on contrary it makes their job less stressful and gives more levy once the mistake happens, for them simply say :
    I am only human and glad I’ve got a tech to iron out those mistakes that will happen occasionally but will not condemn ref to hatred or being surrounded by players and intimidated by crowd.

  • Tom

    “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.”

    Chances are, you will never get that completely, seeing as not all ref decisions will be submitted to reviews during games.

    There will be many judgment calls like throw ins, corners, or free kicks, which will still fall into the jurisdiction of refs to make the split decision ruling on, and teams will still have to get the fundamentals right to defend in those situations.

    So in short, you will still get incorrect calls on challenges like the one that went against Arteta in the West Brom game.

    And if the opposing team happens to score from the ensuing free kick, you will still get a chance to say the ref cost us points, ignoring of course the fact that, as wrong as that decision was , the defensive effort put in by Arsenal in defending the free kick was far worse.

    That missed call by referee will always attract more scrutiny from you because that’s how you are wired in your approach to viewing Arsenal games.

    Santi’s missed penalty or Arteta’s own goal will be treated with shrugging of the shoulders as if to say: ” these things happen”, but the ref will be blamed for losing us points, even though on a scale of how bad each mistake was, Cazorla falling down during taking his pen was far worse than the wrongly awarded free kick( you see those given every weekend) , which lead to the WBA first goal.

    Where you and I agree of course is that introduction of video technology in any shape or form should be welcomed by everyone, referees included.
    Unfortunately the game is governed by dinosaurs and some of them need to go away.
    Let’s just hope it won’t require a meteor to make this happen.

  • Jambug

    Alex

    Seems to me the umpires have embraced it.

    Tom

    Shut up FFS.

  • Tom

    Jambug
    I have always believed that I come from a inferior Eastern European culture, at least when it comes to a debating style, but seeing a reply like that of yours, perhaps I should reconsider.

    Mary X-Mas 🙂

  • Pedro

    What I would like to see is something done to improve the last 10 minutes of games in which you get constant time wasting through substitutions, feigning injury, slowing down play etc.
    An easy solution to this, in the professional game, is on the 80 minute mark a stop clock comes into operation. The time would also include any time added on , so the clock would show 10 minutes plus 3 (time added on), total time 13 minutes. The clock would then stop if there is ANY break in play.
    This rule would 1) immediately stop any time wasting .. 2) improve the entertainment value for spectators as they will see the full amount of time… 3) easy to implement.
    Supporters and players become constantly frustrated during this period of play leading to red and yellow cards.
    I would also like to see a 10 yard rule brought in for the taking of corners for both teams as this is another time wasting ploy. No player should be allowed within 10 yards of the taker. …

  • GoingGoingGooner

    And if the opposing team happens to score from the ensuing free kick, you will still get a chance to say the ref cost us points, ignoring of course the fact that, as wrong as that decision was , the defensive effort put in by Arsenal in defending the free kick was far worse.

    That missed call by referee will always attract more scrutiny from you because that’s how you are wired in your approach to viewing Arsenal games.

    Tom, our players will make mistakes – we can generally see them (Santi falling down would be one). And, not every goal scored against us is because of a lack of ‘defensive effort'(sometimes the other team is great, sometimes we just screw up – effort notwithstanding). Some of the errors are made off of free kicks, no doubt. Here’s the thing – Our team pays for our own errors but I see no reason why any team should pay for the referee’s errors, too. I am confident that each team works on correcting its errors (sometimes unsuccessfully). I am not at all certain that anything is being done by the PGMO to correct its faults. Guys like Mike Dean continually get selected for matches. This video step is a small first step.

  • i have ceased watching premier league games as i refuse to participate in anything that smacks of backwardness (eg. Nascar). I will look at the score after the game and cheer or sulk depending on whether we won or lost. supporting incompetence is not something i care to do in real life and certainly not something i would do in my sporting life. i would no sooner play a game of poker with crooked players. when the dinosaurs retire to their caves i shall start to watch again. there’s no gain in having my intelligence sneered at by a crook or an incompetent.

  • para

    Unfortunately due to the thinking processes of these “dinosaurs” even VID TECH will bring more ambiguity and take some time before it is bedded in and working properly. That said it is a step in the right direction, but the rules need to also be augemented.

    This quote:
    “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.””

    I thought that if the refs rather maximises penalising foul play it would be a better option, the players will be more aware that those “free” fouls and dives are no more.

    Arsenal take note: Stop waiting for the refs decision and keep playing on until you realise the game has stopped.

  • Porter

    Play to the whistle an old but valuable mantra. Too often we see players almost certainly fouled sitting with their arms raised appealing as the game moves away from them.

  • Menace

    Mike – total respect to your opinion.

    As much as I agree with you, my passionate support for Arsenal makes me watch them play despite the shower that the FA appoint to officiate. I watch because I have faith that all good triumps over evil. Sport has attracted the most devious of humanity just as poker did at one time. The game (poker) has a much better face now that it is so popular & controlled.

    Football does not have the same freedom as the Associations have retained control without surrendering any rights to the fans. There is no sporting organisation that is answerable or responsible for honest practice. The law of the land can discover & investigate fraud or tax evasion, but has limited powers to correct foul practice because of terms of operation.

  • apo Armani

    @Jambug
    December 25, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Well said – AGAIN!!

    @Tom: provocative as always to no affect!