By Tony Attwood
Robbie Savage predicts that games will go on long into the night. The Daily Telegraph says that “Doubts remain”. But video technology is finally, after years and years of attempts at delay, going to happen. It won’t mark the end of incompetent refereeing, nor of match fixing, but it will be a step in the right direction. And it will mean that people who like a flutter on LeoVegas sports are going to know that what they are gambling on is a game the result of which is going to be a truer reflection of what happened.
Indeed you can usually tell when an idea is good when radio and TV pundits dismiss it as a nonsense without any serious evidence being put forward or any debate attempted, and we’ve already reported games on Untold where video evidence has been used to great effect.
Now, in the latest trial the “video assistant referee” was used in the friendly between France and Spain, and helped get the result a little closer to reality.
An Antoine Griezmann “goal” just after half time for France was ruled out for offside against Layvin Kurzawa. With none of the hours of delays predicted by Savage, it was all done in a matter of moments. Later Gerard Deulofeu was flagged offside but a short consultation showed he had scored.
Of course none of this will affect the vast number of major incidents that our referee reviews report and which should lead to sendings off because of dangerous play and the like, but which the referees get wrong. And indeed it could be that the introduction of the system is liable to lead to a significant rise in off-the-ball incidents as those who have benefited from the vagaries of the PGMO refereeing system will find incidents away from the video feed more to their liking.
But Didier Deschamps, welcomed the technology even though it ruled against his team. “If it is verified and it is fair, so why not? It changes our football a little. It is against us today but if we have to go through this it will be the same for everyone. Afterwards, without it, it would have been different, but it is the evolution of football. That is how it will be.”
The use of video technology will be trialled in English football next season, and there are suggestions that the Community Shield (previously known as the Charity Shield until… well you know about the FA and its charity money) and the FA Cup from the third round on, will be used. Gianni Infantino, has said that he wants video assistant referees in place at next year’s World Cup in Russia – presumably to see who started the street fights.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn brought some chuckles however when he said, “We are moving from a position of conservatism, of being nervous about any change of a desire to keep simplicity, to saying that technology is changing at a pace and that there is a need for experimentation in the game.” There are words to describe the FA but “conservatism” isn’t quite right. “Residency in the middle ages and a fear of the industrial revolution” might be a little closer.
Trials of the VAR system are still continuing but it seems that the extreme conservatives who have held back its implementation are now in full retreat as the games that have used the system have shown that it can work. The system is therefore set to adjudicate on red cards, goals, penalty kicks and cases of mistaken identity. What we don’t know is how much VAR will be used to go back and look at incidents where the traditional dirty tricks persistently waved away by PGMO officials are used even more regularly than before. We’ll have to wait and see.
Infantino added that the system “prevents the referee from making a clear mistake in an occasion where he wouldn’t have seen it. It happens. It’s happened in the last 150 years. With the help of Var, such a decision can be corrected. But it will not look at every single decision.”
It has also been decided that players will no longer receive a yellow card if they give away a penalty while making a genuine attempt to play the ball.
And in another innovation electronic devices will be allowed in technical areas, for use when reviewing an incident that may have caused a player serious injury. In a different discussion Fifa is also proposing a change in the order of taking penalties in a shootout so that instead of teams alternating in the taking of the penalties, they will take penalties in pairs. Thus team A takes the first penalty, team B the second and third, team A the fourth and fifth and so forth (or fifth).
There is also a new rule coming in through which leagues outside the top league in each country can change the number of substitutes allowed per game and “return” substitutions will be trialled at youth, grassroots and disability levels. Sin-bins are also going to be trialled.
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