By Walter Broeckx
The future is the video ref. As we have been saying for many many years now. And in the FIFA Club World Cup they are busy testing the system.
And from images I have seen I think it is a great way of getting rid of the bad behaviour we see on the pitch.
In the match between Atletico Nacional from South America and Kashima Antlers from Asia there was a moment where the ref asked for video assistance to make a decision.
I will try to post a link to the video clips and hope the links work.
A player from Kashima was fouled away from the ball as a free kick was taken. The ref went to the video box, looked at the decision and in less than 30 seconds awarded a penalty for Kashima.
This was one of those fouls that are almost impossible to see for the refs. 7 or 8 pairs of players running next to each other and then some going down but you can’t look at them all together.
The video referee saw it on his screen and alerted the ref on the field who was Victor Kassai. Kassai went over to the video box looked at the images and awarded the penalty.
If you look at the video you can see that it only took about half a minute to make that decision. Believe me awarding a penalty and getting rid of all the protesting players takes up as much time as this. And now the result is that everyone knows that the images have shown what was the foul. No need to protest anymore although they did as the players are still not used to it. They will get used to it. They must.
The video ref informs the ref on the field when he sees what might be a game changing incident. Game changing incidents are incidents about goals of course but also possible red cards are such incidents. And of course penalties.
Earlier this week I read about the German federation that is preparing for video refereeing by having the referees do tests to get used to the system. Intensive testing is required as the refs have to be alert all the time and watch several screens and spot possible incidents as quickly as possible in order to inform the referee on the field.
I know when I first wrote about video referees when I started writing for Untold all those years ago I got a bit ridiculed for daring to propose this.
I remember when at a meeting of our referee association we got a ref from the top division in Belgium talking about refereeing and his career at FIFA level. When I dared to ask him the question: “Do you think that it would be helpful for top class referees to get assistance from a video ref?” the answer was that I was almost chased out of the meeting for daring to ask such a “stupid question”. He (the top ref from Belgium) didn’t neet any help. Oh no. He was perfect. I must say I couldn’t help but smiling a bit (okay I laughed out loud) when this season this same referee managed to send off the wrong person in a match in the Belgium Jupiler League. He could have used a bit of assistance then.
That has been one of the problems with mostly the older referees. They think they know it best and don’t need assistance. They bloody well do! All of them.
The younger generations of referees seem more open to getting help from outside the field. And certainly referees who take their job serious and who want to be fair and unbiased when they make decisions.
Only the referees who want to make correct decisions all the time are in favour of video assistance. Those who don’t want it might see coming an end to some bad practices.
Before the video ref Kassai might have not seen it….or he might have chosen to ignore it. But now even if he took the second way out, the video ref was there to correct/assist him. And in the end the correct decision was made.
And that is all what matters to me. If I may link this to the Everton match, the question asked is, was Alexis fouled? I really don’t know. Only one angle was shown and for the rest no replays of the incident. With a video ref this might have changed things and he might have informed Clattenburg if something was wrong or not. I hope we can get better video images of that incident when we do the ref review. But in a perfect world the video ref would have looked at the images and could have stopped the match if there really was a foul. Or he could have told the ref that there was nothing wrong.
Now we don’t know. Yet. And thus the yes/no debate can go on. With a video ref there would have been no need for debate at all. The only thing we then would know was that the decision in the end was correct.
And that is all that matters.