By Walter Broeckx
On Untold we have been strong pleaders for more help to referees.
We find it unacceptable that in such an important sport decisions are made that are wrong. In an ideal world no decision on a football field should be wrong. But we realise that this will be a kind of utopia. We don’t want every throw in to be examined till the death. Or every contact.
Football has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. If you look at the slow speed the game was played some 50 years ago (just look at an historic final if you get the chance) and compare this with the speed of the game now. The speed has doubled at least, tripled would be closer to the truth I think.
The reason is simple. The modern footballer is a complete athlete and with all the new things that have been found, better nutrition, better medical care the modern footballer can rung twice if not thrice as much as the top players in the 50s or 60s.
And among that high speed football (apart from when time wasting has arrived in a match) we see that the match officials are still doing it in the same was as in the good old days. And with good old days I really mean good old days.
Of course the modern ref also is a better athlete than the refs in the 50s or 60s were. But other things have made life more difficult for him. One of those things is the fact that play acting has entered the game at some point. Players go down without fouls in order to win penalties or free kicks. That is only one of the bad things that entered football.
And with the high speed of the game it is very difficult for a ref to make the right decisions all the time. Even when he wants to make them he still can get caught by a player who is cheating. Or because of the speed of players moving he can miss certain things and make mistakes. As a ref I know I make mistakes. And I have said it a few hundred if not thousand times before but for the record will repeat myself: Any ref that is saying he doesn’t make mistakes is a liar and is useless.
We don’t need lying refs and we don’t need refs who think they don’t have to improve themselves. And to put the record straight I don’t have much of a problem with a ref who makes a mistake. I do have a problem when mistakes are made with always the same teams benefiting or the same teams being the victims. Because that is the moment when making mistakes becomes bias. And we don’t need refs who are biased.
So what was the way we looked at the introduction of goal line technology at Untold? We supported it. But we also said that this was just one little step in the right direction and that more steps need to be taken to help referees. What those steps are or should be is however not the subject of this article. Now we want to talk about the goal line technology and how it has been used in the match Arsenal – Tottenham.
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To get one thing out of the way first: if the ball crossed the line or not is something I don’t know. And there is the whole problem. I remember a few seasons ago a Fa cup semi final when ref Atkinson gave a goal to Chelsea that didn’t cross the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get ref Atkinson next Saturday when we play his beloved Chelsea by the way. And when writing this on Monday morning the referee appointments are not yet made public. If that would be the case I suggest The Ox and Gibbs making sure they don’t get mixed up again.
But what I remember from that FA cup semi final was that the tv companies showed a dozen replays of the incident. From all angles possible. They showed them. And again. And again. And some more. In order to give the audience the best possible view. But now this Saturday in the North London derby it was a completely different show.
The situation was that Mertesacker headed towards goal, Lloris stopped the ball but couldn’t hold on to it and the ball trickled towards goal. On or over the line? That is something the goal line technology should decide.
First thing was that it took ages before a replay was shown. Very unusual. But worst thing was that only one replay is shown in total. And well in fact it is no replay at all in fact. Because they showed the goal line technology replay and only showed it till Lloris first stopped the ball. Even a blind man could see that Lloris had to make a second save to keep the ball out or prevent it from going over the line.
But the goal technology didn’t seem to register this. Or no images where shown of this. And that itself is something that is worrying. Because it now seems that goal line technology can only register one decision. And when you get two decisions to make with just split seconds in between it only looks at the first decision and not at the second. And so you can say that it doesn’t work as it should work.
So they have given us a false feeling of security. We thought that it all was covered and tested. But now it seems not to be the case. I think the company that developed the system and the FA and the PGMOL should give us an explanation on what happened and why the system didn’t register the second decision. But given the way they come out in the open in the past I am not holding my breath for this to happen.
And then we have a second question that needs answering. The question on why not the usual replays were shown. You know the half a dozen replays from half a dozen angles. And with replay I mean the real replay and not the animated goal line technology replay. I want to judge such an incident with my own eyes. The computer animation is fine and a good help (well not really in this case) but I want to judge it with my own eyes.
And for an unknown reason nobody seems to be allowed to show that replay. A replay that must be on the tapes (or hard disks probably these days). But here we are 2 days after the incident and no real life replay has been shown about where the ball was when Lloris pushed it out for the second time.
Giving that calciopoli also was kept running with the help from how they showed things on TV this is something that worries me.
Of course I might be wrong and the ball never went over the line. But the thing is: they could show us. But they deliberately preferred not to show us the images that would shed light over this incident. And as I have a natural suspicious mind I keep on wondering: why? And certainly when I compare this with other incidents on the goal line where they did show the real life time replays from different angles.
Is there something we are not allowed to see? Someone better show us the real images. Otherwise I can only think that there might have been something to cover up.
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