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October 2016
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With video technology on the way accuracy levels in refereeing and Mike Riley’s odd numbers will come under scrutiny.

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?

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14 comments to With video technology on the way accuracy levels in refereeing and Mike Riley’s odd numbers will come under scrutiny.

  • proudkev

    Walter, good stuff.

    Referees need help. The game is getting faster and players are getting ‘cuter’, ‘craftier’, sorry I mean cheat more.

    The first thing I would introduce is retrospective bans for players caught simulating or committing reckless tackles. Forget this nonsense about not being able to review decisons referees claim they saw, that’s only there because PGMO dont want their referees questioned.

    In the MLS they used video technology to clean up the game and address the number of injuries being caused by ‘bad’ tackles. To put this into perspective this is a Country where they have a sport which consists of players wearing suits of armour in their national Game! They banned every player that had injured another player with a late tackle. It immediately reduced the number of injuries, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, so look out Drinkwater and the other British Dinosaurs who ‘love’ a tackle.

    The other benefit of video technology is it reduces the possible manipulation of match results. However, it will still be subjective because the guy sitting in front of the monitor is going to give an opinion that may be open to scrutiny. But much better than this nonsense we have now and PGMO’s sheer incompetence. Perhaps we should review every decison that appears ‘strange’ like the holding of OZil round the throat that lead to the Swansea equaliser, despite being right in front of the referee. The ban the referee for three games unpaid.

  • clockendrider

    Banning the referee unpaid for 3 games will be meaningless if the benefit he is getting for making the decision outweighs it. I think they should only be allowed so many high profile mistakes and then be dropped for a the remainder of the current season in which the “errors” occur and the whole of the next.
    Just think, a premier league without the likes of Mason and Dean. Can anyone seriously tell me it would be in any way adversely impacted?

  • porter

    I would like to see the manufacturing of yellow and red cards banned from the game. We have seen Vardy , Kane and Hazard recently being praised by ex players and the media for the winning of penalties by aiming for the defender and going down . Last week it was Benteke and to his credit Pardew bought it up directly and did not mince words. It used to be so different players like Armstrong and Best were subject to defenders trying to knock them off their feet but they stood their ground and the game was better for it. Until somebody grows a pair and calls it for exactly what it is “” Cheating “”the referees task will get harder and the game will suffer as a consequence.

  • @Swales1968

    I just put those figures Mike Reily quoted to ex PL ref Mark Halsey on Twitter his reply “LOL” I’m guessing that he finds the figures quoted as laughable and not me asking the question 😉

    I would think the laws of probability would say that it’s impossible for an official to get 99% of offside decisions correct in one game of football let alone over a whole season or two.

  • Saadman

    In cricket, which you probably don’t follow as you are not from a cricket-playing nation, they use video replays to make decisions that are too too hard to catch for the naked eye. I don’t understand why that hasn’t yet been used all this time in football?

  • @Swales1968

    Saadman the problem is a lot of the decisions that are wrong are not difficult to see, the non second yellow to Dier, the push on Sanchez and the reaction also the hold on Ozil during the Swansea game are just 3 clear and obvious decisions not given. Yes the difficult ones you can call for video evidence but blatant bending of the rules when plane to see does not need video replaying it needs consistent officiating

  • Gord

    Today is 2015/03/08, appointments are:
    Saturday 12 March 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    00:02 Man Utd – Crystal Palace – _ _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ –
    00:02 Sunderland – Everton _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ –
    00:02 West Ham – Watford _ _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ –
    Saturday 12 March 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    17:30 Arsenal – West Brom _ _ _- _ _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ –
    15:00 Bournemouth – Swansea _ _Roger East _ _ M Salisbury D Eaton _M Dean
    12:45 Norwich – Man City _ _ _ Jonathan Moss _A Halliday _S Burt _ R Madley
    15:00 Stoke – Southampton _ _ _Mike Jones _ _ A Garratt _ R West _ A Taylor
    Sunday 13 March 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    00:02 Liverpool – Chelsea _ _ _- _ _ _ – _ _ _ – _ _ _ –
    Sunday 13 March 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    16:00 Aston Villa – Spurs _ _ _Anthony Taylor G Beswick _ M Perry _ C Pawson
    Monday 14 March 2016
    K.O. _MATCHES _ _ _ _ REFEREE _ _ _ ASST. REF. 1 _ _ASST. REF. 2 _ _4TH OFFICIAL
    20:00 Leicester – Newcastle _ _Craig Pawson _ D Cann _ _ _S Bennett M Jones

    Not all of the upcoming appointments are filled. Are all of those empty appointments due to rescheduled games? Why can’t the Premier League find a good way to display this? Of importance to us, is our match against WBrom has not had any officials appointed yet.

    Zeta boards had no better information. Kevin Friend seems to be still affected by concusions. If things follow FA rules, it will be March 15 before Friend can be back. Pawson has board duties (?) Friday and Saturday, and a game on Sunday. Supposition is that Beck has made too many mistakes, and has been moved out.

    Here we have a comment about referee locations, in particular Pawson:
    > In any case, Liverpool, Birmingham and Leicester don’t involve too much travelling, even if he were to go home each night. has an article up about the Ladies team getting their own building at the training grounds. Sounds like a wonderful facility.

    Good luck to Arsenal against Hull.


  • @Swales1968

    The # parts are taken from the Barclays Premier League website

    The * are my comments

    Part 2 will come later

    What is PGMOL responsible for 😂
    #Formed in 2001 to improve refereeing standards, the PGMOL group officiate across all the Premier League, Football League and FA Competitions – all three organisations fund it.

    *To me the standards of refereeing with in the PL has over the past seasons deteriorated to a level where I do not bother to look who the officials are as I consider them all inept and unable and are unfit for purpose.

    #The training, development and mentoring of 79 referees and 257 assistant referees – run by General Manager Mike Riley (a former PGMOL referee) and a team of managers and coaches.

    *The training, development and mentoring of all refs and assistants is obviously failing, the role Mike Riley has to be called in to question with his dubious stats and unwillingness for the PMGOL to be open to the footballing world.

    #The most high profile officials, the 17 full-time professional Select Group referees

    •why if there are 79 refs being trained are only 17 deemed good enough for the PL?

    How is being a Select Group referee different?

    #They meet for a ‘training camp’ twice a month, where they perform physical and technical training sessions, and analyse match videos.

    *I can not see any evidence in the games I watch live at the Emirates and those on TV (not just Arsenal games) where these sessions are improving the quality of officiating during games.

    #There is a robust system for measuring Select Group performance over the season. Each Premier League match is evaluated by a former senior referee who scrutinises every decision using the match footage and ProZone to measure the officials’ technical performance. Former players and managers (Match Delegates) assess the accuracy and consistency of decision making and their management of the game.

    *Really! A robust system which scrutinises every decision, I nearly fell of my chair reading that. It would be nice to know who the former players and managers are because I openly question their marking of officials over decision making.

    What does PGMOL do to support the Select Group?
    #There is a support team which mirrors that of a football club: sports scientists, sports psychologists, physiotherapists, sprint coaches, podiatrists and vision scientists are all employed to improve referee performance.

    *I would sack the vision scientists

    #Technology is used as an aid too: detailed performance analysis is supported by ProZone, which provides statistical data on each match, while training sessions and games are scrutinised with the aid of Polar Heart Monitors.

    *The use of technology is readily accepted in training of officials but to help them during games it is frowned upon. A tad hypocritical me thinks.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    While video technology would be welcome , the strange goings on in FIFA and UEFA may yet see another change or two at the top and further delay its implementation and introduction .

  • ob1977

    Something I’ve thought about with the wording of “the flow of the match” this just leads back to the referee “game management” where to enable the game to “flow” they just don’t bother giving decisions and allow teams (Arsenal) to get kicked the f out of…

    Also not entirely happy that under the new guidelines the ref can choose to not send off (send off if he plays for Arsenal) a player giving away a penalty and preventing a goal scoring opportunity, depending on if the ref thinks the player tried to win the ball or not. For me the more leeway the ref has, and the more guidelines rather than instructions they are given, then more questions over their honesty will happen, along with the integrity of the league…

  • para

    There needs to be a points system for the refs, top three refs from Championship come up to PL and the bottom three from PL drops down.
    There should be a minimum of 15 active refs in PL and 20 in Championship.

    Maybe football kits should be “Wearables”, so the managers can monitor physical functions while it also broadcasts the position and other data of the players.

    Any offside will then signal the line official(will they still be needed?) or the ref.

    All the data concerning the game decisions should be shown live, so that viewers are up to date.

    There must be no manipulation allowed in any way. Haa.

  • Andy Mack

    Q) Will the video ref be a member of the pgmo?
    A) Yes
    So what on earth makes you think they’ll be any better when they’re ‘managing’ a game away from the crowd?
    We can see fouls on replays now but the TV/Media idiots only make a fuss if it goes against one of their ‘luvvie’ teams. They don’t care that the general standard of PL Refs is lower than a sausage dogs testicles, or they’d have said something about it by now…

  • norman14

    None of this technology will affect games where PGMOL has an agenda, because the referees will be instructed not to use it.

  • Gord

    You want video technology?

    ArsTechnica is running an article on an Israeli company that Intel just bought, which produces 3D video.