By Walter Broeckx
There is something moving in the referees’ world other than the legs and arms of the referees. Finally! At Untold we have been asking for change since… well since I started writing for Untold. And now…
As a referee myself my only and main concern has always been to make the correct decision. Have I been successful in reaching this aim? I would love to think so but I am honest enough to say that this hasn’t been the case. Why? Well because I am only human and as a result will make mistakes.
Some referees don’t want any assistance. They are so full of themselves they think they never make mistakes. A bad thing in a way. Admitting you can make mistakes is far more honest and will bring more understanding. Defending a decision by saying: “I am always right,” is a bit stupid I think. But lots of referees act that way.
When I make a decision and the players or managers don’t agree with it I always try to say them (if they are open for a normal conversation) that my decision is based on how I saw the incident from my point of view. And that might be wrong but I can only judge it from where I was standing and that this is my decision. Of course when passion and emotions runs high and players or managers are not open for a normal conversation they can bugger off and can only accept my decision.
But whatever my decision, it is based on the fact of what I saw and how I saw it, be it correct or not. If and when it was wrong it was an honest mistake.
Last Saturday I read an article on the BBC website. It seems that the new Fifa president Mr. Infantino is in favour of using technology to help refs. If this really is the case he will be granted some time before I come after his skin. I still don’t like Fifa or anyone who is their president but having the guts to say that it will come is one big step forward to bring football out of the dark ages in to the real world of today.
Infantino said: “We cannot close our eyes to the future but it doesn’t mean to say it will work. The flow of the game is crucial. We cannot put that in danger. That is why we have to be open to test.”
Yes we don’t know if it will work of course. But at least it looks that the IFAB will give permission to some countries to try to test it and those testing might start in the 2017-2018 season.
It will cover goal changing decisions. And these are: goals, red cards, penalties and mistaken identity. So Gibbs will no longer be sent off for something he didn’t do….and The Ox would not get a red card for a handball as the shot was going wide from the goal and the only penalty would be…a penalty and a yellow card.
Fiba also wants to end the triple punishment in some cases. When a general attempt is made to play the ball (mostly by goalkeepers who bring strikers down) in the penalty area but the defender brings the attacker down there will be no longer an automatic red card if the defender was the last defender. A yellow card, a penalty and probably a goal against is seen as enough punishment. But this will not apply when it is a foul of holding, pushing or pulling (when do they give a penalty for those fouls by the way?) or when the foul was done with excessive brutality worthy of a red card itself. So not completely carte blanche for defenders.
Yes referees need help. I was watching some football in Belgium and Holland this weekend and the number of wrong goal decisions was too high. In Belgium an assistant missed 5 players in an offside position of which one scored. As blatant as the missed offside against Costa when he scored the winning goal against Norwich. The same in Holland.
Intelligent and honest refs know they need help and can’t do it alone any more. The game is now too fast with players being fitter than ever and the speed of passing being so high.
Now of course we all remember the statistics from Riley. He claimed that the accuracy on major decisions had gone up to 95% and decisions the penalty area had gone up to 98% correct decisions. And offsides were 99% correct coming from 92% when he started as chief of the referees. Everyone is entitled to live in their own dream world of course. Pleasant dreams, Mr. Riley.
Now with the high profile errors in Belgium the head of the referees in Belgium, former top ref Paul Allaerts, came out with a few numbers in order to defend his referees. Again no detailed reports just totals. But this is what he said about the numbers of correct decisions in Belgium.
Mr. Allaerts said that the reports themselves are confidential (I really don’t know why but football lives on secrecy it seems) but on average the important decisions the number of correct decisions in Belgium is between 80% to 85%. And for assistants (offside decisions mostly) the accuracy is around 89%.
Now of course it might be that referees who are trained and guided by Mr. Riley reach unbelievable high levels of accuracy because of him. But well to be honest… whose numbers look more reliable? The “perfect” numbers from Mr. Riley or the worrying numbers from Mr. Allaerts.
I know who to believe and it is not because he is my countryman that I would rather believe Mr. Allaerts than Mr. Riley.
We could only ask ourselves the question that if the Riley numbers are correct…then why would the PGMO want to use video assistance for referees? And yes, in Belgium the referee authorities are strongly in favour of help for the referees and they have asked for permission to test it in the future.
So it looks to be good news that is getting through from the people who have to decide if we will get video assistance in the future for the referees. And it also looks that the numbers from Mr. Riley are more or less fabricated and completely in contradiction of the numbers in Belgium …and also completely in contradiction with the numbers we get on Untold Arsenal both now and in the past. But then again…was there really anyone out there who believe Riley’s numbers?
- It’s the hope that kills you
- Walter in the studio part 2. Putting the spud in his place, and being the face of Arsenal in Belgium
The Untold Books
The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.
- 8 March 1958: Arsenal 5 Chelsea 4. David Herd scored a hat trick in front of 41,570 turn up. This was the third in a run of four games which generated 28 goals. DR Clapton and Jimmy Bloomfield got the other Arsenal goals on this occasion.
- 8 March 1972: Ajax 2 Arsenal 1. European Cup 3rd round 1st leg. It came after two battles with Derby in the cup (both drawn) and a defeat in the league to Manchester City.