by Don McMahon
Don is a retired referee who worked at NASL and international level
That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
I recently read an article about the France-Spain friendly played last week and its successful use of video refereeing technology.
There were numerous comments from pundits and retired players about the use of technology but the most interesting was from a player who actually participated in the match (Mbappe) who said that this technology was great but that the time required to get decisions took too long. However, when the actual videos were timed, it took an average of 45 seconds to consult with the video referee, discuss the specifics and make a decision….well worth the time spent as it saved two serious errors at least. The official seemed happy to use the video referee and certainly the teams accepted the decisions with good grace.
What really astonished me was the comment that the British pundit, Talkshite’s Adrian Durham made on Twitter about all this technology: ¨Video asst ref just completely destroyed the atmosphere in the Stade de France. Killing our own beautiful game.¨
The French pundit Phillipe Auclair loved the video refereeing and said: ¨Video referee called upon in France-Spain, Griezmann’s lovely ‘goal’ rightly ruled offside. No recriminations, no fuss, no problem.¨ and Stan Collymore summed it up perfectly: ¨Problem is you can’t disagree on a matter of fact as it’s a fact. Can’t see why anyone would want ambiguity when you can have certainty.¨
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of video referees, from the point of view of the referees, the spectators, the players and the managers.
99% of the referees I know would love to have access to video referees in order to avoid uncertainty, errors, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and injustices due to human error AND possible bias. Any system that promises to take the guesswork out of officiating and remove the ambiguity inherent in human judgements is welcomed.
As Auclair said: no recriminations, no fuss, and no problem. The ONLY reasons I can fathom for an official not wanting to have his or her decisions video reviewed are:
- Their egos are too tender to take the questioning that such video reviews would bring down on them, or their egos are so big that they deem themselves perfect, or they are stuck in the past,
- They need to hide their decisions from scrutiny because there is something crooked about them. Such scrutiny would take the power from them and give it to a just and fair hearing that would correct any ¨errors¨, wilful or accidental.
- They don’t like the idea of delaying a game to review their decisions and feel that it will all even out in the end?
- They don’t like the added technology and equipment required to make video reviews work.
The spectators might not like having goals awarded or called back or other key game incidents changed but in the end they realize that justice is more important than winning unfairly. Imagine IF video technology had been used in all EPL games since 2005! I am convinced that things would have changed significantly.
The players want to win, but I do NOT believe that the majority want to win at all costs to the Game or their reputations.
Thierry Henry was ashamed of his handball against Ireland once he was confronted with the injustice of it all. This incident coloured his remaining career and sullied his reputation, certainly in the eyes of the Irish. Players welcome fairness and immediate decisions that protect the game, as they did during the France-Spain friendly. Nobody protested once the video decisions were rendered and the game went on without any dispute. It was reassuring and pleasing to see the game played in a 21st century atmosphere.
Managers support the video review process, if it’s applied consistently and rapidly as happened in this game. I don’t believe ANY EPL manager has come out against such technology, and they already support goal-line technology 100%. It is only dinosaurs like Durham who have their heads so far up their posteriors that they think black is the new white.
There are some cons about such technology, such as equipment failure, signal interference (natural or wilful), length of time to render decisions, added time at the end of the match or video reviewers being clandestinely influenced by the dark powers that seem to inhabit Football today. These can all be adequately addressed by further technological improvements, closer scrutiny of video officials, slight changes to the Laws to accommodate video reviews and so on.
I would of course encourage UA readers to come on here and provide their arguments, for or against or in-between, but let me be clear….I am 100% convinced that this technology would improve and protect the game as never before, AND would ensure that justice is seen to be done, not just pantomimed by Riley and his minions.
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