By Walter Broeckx
The other day I read an article about Mike Riley where he talked about the mix up that has happened once again when ref Neil Swarbrick send off the wrong guy in the match Manchester City – West Bromwich Albion.
One could say sending off the wrong player is something that only happens once in 10 years or so but as we all know it also happened last year when Arsenal played at Chelsea. And to make matters worse that day, was that the sending off itself was not correct. Oxlade-Chamberlain should have received a yellow card for his handball but it was Gibbs who was sent off in the end.
Now referees’ chief Mike Riley has said: Video technology will prevent errors like this.
It reminded me of an old Biblical expression that I had heard the other day in relation to something completely different: “So there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who need no repentance.”
Mike Riley being the sinner in this and that is somehow an image I can see in front of me. Mike ‘Sinner’ Riley from match 50. He sure could have used a bit of video technology to prevent the dozen important errors he displayed in that match on his own.
Mike Riley said if we can believe the good old BBC : “Video technology to help referees cut out clear mistakes should be introduced in English football”.
It looks as if Mike Riley has seen the light. Hallelujah! The light that Untold Arsenal has been pointing at for many, many years as the way to go forward when it comes to make matches being fairly and more honestly refereed. But that is Untold Arsenal of course, always (light)years ahead of the rest.
Before others even dare to think there might be a “little problem” we have analysed it and given the best solution for the benefit of football. Not for the benefit of Arsenal (even though I do admit that I think that Arsenal would benefit enormously from refs being able to have video technology) but for the benefit of football in general.
Believe me there is no worse feeling than sitting in the stadium, seeing an error with your own eyes and getting a text message from another referee saying he has seen the replay and the ref messed up. And if you don’t win because of that error or even lose, the long way home is feeling much and much longer.
Losing is not the issue, but losing when it was unfair, that is the issue for most people. I can stand losing any match as long as I know things have been done in a fair way. But when it is down to a referee making (even honest) mistakes it leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Anyway Riley continued according to the BBC: “We need to see what technology we can use to help get referees’ decisions more accurate.” “Football as a whole has to look at it.” “All it takes is a split-second lapse in concentration. Neil had four or five issues to judge in half a second and it is that type of situation that would lend itself to technology.”
I can think of a few other situations where we could have some help from technology but let us leave that out of this article for the moment.
Riley said they had been to Holland (maybe tipped off by our articles some time ago?) and has seen how it has been tested in Holland. Belgium and Holland have asked FIFA and IFAB to go further but for the moment it is still a ‘NO” from those organisations. But even last week in Belgium they said that they will keep asking permission over and over and over again till it is granted. They got my full support on that!
About the technology Riley said : “Technology doesn’t provide a solution to everything but we can all think of case where a quick reference to a video replay would help us get the decision right,”
Yes we sure can, Mike. We sure can think of a few situations.
Now what is the most surprising thing in all this is the fact that it wasn’t until recently Riley and Webb came out with numbers that showed that only 20 important errors were made in the first half of the PL season this season. Ridiculous numbers, but apart from Untold nobody dared to say so.
But now with more and more errors being made and the real facts staring them in the eyes Riley and Webb are changing their tune. Because if their numbers are correct, then why should they even bother to speak about video technology to help refs? For according to them refs hardly made any mistakes at all. So then why would they need assistance?
Could it be that the numbers they have so proudly presented were a bit further away from the truth? Have they been feeding lies to the public? Compared to our numbers it sure looked that way and looking at how they now suddenly pretend to be in favour of video technology to help those poor refs is an amazing U-turn from Mike and Howard.
Maybe the more serious media could ask the question of Riley and Webb: Where does this sudden U-turn come from? Maybe they could ask them about their previous numbers and how these numbers made the demand for video technology ridiculous.
And to me the biggest question is: should be believe them? Can we still believe them? Or are they just doing and saying these things to calm down the public who starts to ask questions?
As the four home nations have half the votes in IFAB it should be very simple to introduce video technology in the future. All they have to do is to say yes to allow countries like Belgium and Holland to introduce it. And then introduce it in the PL also.
But I somehow doubt the words of Riley. Maybe he has done too much cheating in match 50 to ever be trusted again in anything he does. He surely has earned the right to be mistrusted for ever after that day.