By Walter Broeckx
I have been talking about the video ref for many years now. Tony has given me the chance to talk about it for many years and on many occasions. I have written articles and showed video clips about the tests that have happened under the guidance of the Dutch football federation KNVB.
The KNVB first had this idea since 2011 when both referees and managers agreed that something had to be done to make football fairer. Most of all the idea was that to avoid that referees who missed things because their view being blocked or having the wrong angle on an incident could be helped to get the correct decision.
I in particular remember an incident in a top match in Holland where a defender stopped the ball on the goal line with his arm. The ref couldn’t see it as it was after a corner and 5-6 bodies blocking his view, and the assistant referee couldn’t see it as he was correctly positioned on the goal line and the goalpost prevented his view. The penalty and red card wasn’t given. And the whole stadium had seen what happened apart from the 3 man in the middle who couldn’t see it.
After the match the referee in question when looking at the images was very embarrassed and admitted that if he would have had some help he would have made the right decision. He pleaded and begged the authorities to come to the referees help and help them by using the images that were broadcasted but couldn’t be used by the referees. He said that it was ridiculous that the whole world had seen the wrong decision and that they could have been helped within seconds to correct it and do the right thing.
I think that was one, if not THE turning point for the KNVB to really press forward the subject of video refereeing. And after years of pushing and fighting they were allowed to start testing this season. They started the testing yesterday in real time. Before tests had been done but no connection between the referee in the editors room was made with the refs on the field.
A test happened in the friendly between France and Italy a few weeks ago (I think) but without interference possible by the video ref with the refs on the field.
And now yesterday the baptism happened in the cup match between Ajax and Willem II in Holland.
And for the first time in history a video ref assisted the referee on the field to help him and correct his decision(s).
After 58 minutes a Willem II player came in, in a dangerous (possible leg breaking) way towards an Ajax player. The referee on the field gave the free kick and gave a yellow card. But the video ref reviewed the incident and concluded (correctly in my opinion) that the tackle was brutal and could have caused a serious injury.
I have been looking for good images of the situation but could only find a small clip in which they start with the foul and then you see the ref listening to the video ref, calling the player back and give him the red card.
The clip is on a Dutch football website so sorry for it being not understandable (unless you speak Dutch of course) but the clip is right under the first picture in the article. It took the video ref only a few seconds to tell the ref on the field that he should give the red card. No holding up of the match apart from the player having to leave the field.
The first step has been taken. Anouar Kali will be the first player to have been sent off by the help of the video referee in an official match and with official authorisation of the IFAB the body from FIFA that controls the laws of the game and the application of the laws of the game.
A big step forward for football. And most of all a big step forward in trying to make football fairer. And trying to get the thugs out of football and protect and help the skilful players.
In these tests the video ref only helps the ref in case of a goal, a foul, a penalty and a possible red card. So it was a pure coincidence that the first action that had to be taken was a red card.
The reactions in Holland are overwhelming positive to this event. As far as I could see most people applauded the intervention from the video referee and asked for more.
So do I.
I would like to thank the Dutch football federation KNVB for their hard and consistent work in bringing a fairer final score nearer in football matches. They have been working on what seemed a lost cause at times but didn’t give up.
We from Untold have been supportive for the fight the KNVB has done and I must say that as a referee myself I feel happy to have been on the “good” side of this battle from the start.
When I talked with top referees in Belgium I had the impression that only the big egos in the refereeing world didn’t like the idea. The egos that think they never make mistakes. How wrong and misguided by your ego can you be?
It was an historic day for football and maybe in some 10 years time this will be a daily happening. Let us hope this is the start of the real revolution to make the outcome of football matches much fairer than ever before. And let the result of a match no longer be in control of a man who only has one view on an incident and whose view may be blocked or …worse be influenced by something else.
Video referee assistance…. Bring it on!