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Like it or not, the video ref is alive and kicking : no stopping it now (I hope)

By Walter Broeckx

I have been talking about the video ref for many years now. Tony has given me the chance to  talk about it for many years and on many occasions. I have written articles and showed video clips about the tests that have happened under the guidance of the Dutch football federation KNVB.

The KNVB first had this idea since 2011 when both referees and managers agreed that something had to be done to make football fairer. Most of all the idea was that to avoid that referees who missed things because their view being blocked or having the wrong angle on an incident could be helped to get the correct decision.

I in particular remember an incident in a top match in Holland where a defender stopped the ball on the goal line with his arm. The ref couldn’t see it as it was after a corner and 5-6 bodies blocking his view, and the assistant referee couldn’t see it as he was correctly positioned on the goal line and the goalpost prevented his view. The penalty and red card wasn’t given. And the whole stadium had seen what happened apart from the 3 man in the middle who couldn’t see it.

After the match the referee in question when looking at the images was very embarrassed and admitted that if he would have had some help he would have made the right decision. He pleaded and begged the authorities to come to the referees help and help them by using the images that were broadcasted but couldn’t be used by the referees. He said that it was ridiculous that the whole world had seen the wrong decision and that they could have been helped within seconds to correct it and do the right thing.

I think that was one,  if not THE turning point for the KNVB to really press forward the subject of video refereeing. And after years of pushing and fighting they were allowed to start testing this season. They started the testing yesterday in real time. Before tests had been done but no connection between the referee in the editors room was made with the refs on the field.

A test happened in the friendly between France and Italy a few weeks ago (I think) but without interference possible by the video ref with the refs on the field.

And now yesterday the baptism happened in the cup match between Ajax and Willem II in Holland.

And for the first time in history a video ref assisted the referee on the field to help him and correct his decision(s).

After 58 minutes a Willem II player came in, in a dangerous (possible leg breaking)  way towards an Ajax player. The referee on the field gave the free kick and gave a yellow card. But the video ref reviewed the incident and concluded (correctly in my opinion) that the tackle was brutal and could have caused a serious injury.

I have been looking for good images of the situation but could only find a small clip in which they start with the foul and then you see the ref listening to the video ref, calling the player back and give him the red card.


You can see the clip here;_gele_kaart_Kali_wordt_rood!

The clip is on a Dutch football website so sorry for it being not understandable (unless you speak Dutch of course) but the clip is right under the first picture in the article. It took the video ref only a few seconds to tell the ref on the field that he should give the red card. No holding up of the match apart from the player having to leave the field.

The first step has been taken. Anouar Kali will be the first player to have been sent off by the help of the video referee in an official match and with official authorisation of the IFAB the body from FIFA that controls the laws of the game and the application of the laws of the game.

A big step forward for football. And most of all a big step forward in trying to make football fairer. And trying to get the thugs out of football and protect and help the skilful players.

In these tests the video ref only helps the ref in case of a goal, a foul, a penalty and a possible red card. So it was a pure coincidence that the first action that had to be taken was a red card.

The reactions in Holland are overwhelming positive to this event. As far as I could see most people applauded the intervention from the video referee and asked for more.

So do I.

I would like to thank the Dutch football federation KNVB for their hard and consistent work in bringing a fairer final score nearer in football matches. They have been working on what seemed a lost cause at times but didn’t give up.

We from Untold have been supportive for the fight the KNVB has done and I must say that as a referee myself I feel happy to have been on the “good” side of this battle from the start.

When I talked with top referees in Belgium I had the impression that only the big egos in the refereeing world didn’t like the idea. The egos that think they never make mistakes. How wrong and misguided by your ego can you be?

It was an historic day for football and maybe in some 10 years time this will be a daily happening. Let us hope this is the start of the real revolution to make the outcome of football matches much fairer than ever before. And let the result of a match no longer be in control of a man who only has one view on an incident and whose view may be blocked or …worse be influenced by something else.

Video referee assistance…. Bring it on!


ADDITIONAL CLIP (Thanks to Usama)


35 comments to Like it or not, the video ref is alive and kicking : no stopping it now (I hope)

  • Usama Zaka

    Great news!

    Here is a better complete clip.

    I think the ref initially gave a yellow card because he saw the incident from behind and little far and couldn’t view the studs stamp on the player, so that maybe led to his thoughts of it a yellow card reckless challenge. But in a matter of 5-10 seconds the CORRECT decision was made successfully smoothly.

  • Tai, Nigeria.

    Good intervention and about time.

  • Gord

    Thank you for this Walter. And the KNVB.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks for that link Usama. When I was looking for it this morning it wasn’t there yet. Or I couldn’t find it…. I have included it also at the bottom of the article.
    I really feel like at the morning of a new era in football….

  • Jambug


    I too would love to see the video referee introduced, but given the quality of the post match reviews we currently get from pundits and ex referees alike, so given that I’m not entirely convinced that the correct decisions will be called from the video ref, even if he sees it in slow motion a dozen times.

    All our penalty appeals in the Villa cup final a couple of years ago where deemed non penalties when reviewed by just about every man and his dog on tv after the match, even though at least a couple clearly where. If they are determined to see it a certain way they will no matter what the evidence presented in front of there eyes.

    Post match, again, every man and his dog are calling what most us here see as a clear penalty and red card in the Hull match as a wrong call.

    Even with a guy watching on video there is still the chance of the exact same bias being applied to what is and isn’t brought to the referees attention, and of course how the incidents are interpreted.

    So I want to see it, and believe it is a step forward, but in no way do I see it as a cure all.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Jambug, in a fair world it would be a great step forward. I am one of those who believe in a fairer world. Key to the system will be opening up as to why a decision has been changed or not.
    And that is what the Dutch are very strong at: open communication about their decisions.

    Alas as you say the PGMO is the opposite so it might be used in a different way… But they will get exposed then again when we compare them with the rest of the world.

    If you look at the foul in the clip… some PGMO refs would not even call the foul…..

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Hopefully a death knell for crooked refs .

  • Andy Mack

    As Jambug mentions, Yes it’s a step forward but it won’t be a cure for the PGMO bias as long as the ‘video review’ ref is a PGMO club member.

  • Jambug


    Indeed, sadly some wouldn’t, but hey, it is a mans game after all.

  • para

    I agree, corruption will use what ever tools available for their benefit, but it’s a start. We just have to have access to the video ref, and to vet them for mistakes too.

    Has any one noticed that in the PL the refs are behaving strangely? Our penalty was almost like there was a video ref, it took him some time to give the penalty. If he had a whisper in his ear?

  • Pat

    This is very good. It’s especially impressive that the correction came so quickly.

  • omgarsenal

    Walter, you and I share absolutely the same desire and opinion about video officiating. Here are some of my convictions about VR:

    1) It will support and aid the officials’ work not supplement it,

    2) It will become an excellent teaching and learning tool for all officials at that level,

    3) Those who oppose it will become suspect in their motives and reticent to show any bias because every rational football fan will adore it and there will be video proof of any unusually officiated games, not just regular video but assessed video!,

    4) It will significantly reduce the likelihood and ease with which the officials can bias the results….suspicion will be cast on any who try, as there will be a review video with referee commentary to refer to as proof of something rotten in Denmark,(a Shakespearean reference Walter….nothing to do with Danish football),

    5) It will permit the officials to make decisions in the ordinary run of the game like offside calls, throw-ins, placement of freekicks, etc. which rarely require assistance from a video referee while ensuring that they don’t miss important calls like penalties, etc.

    6) It will permit the PIGMOB to accurately assess their officials and IF they continue to refuse the use of these aids, then suspicion will fall heavily on them and like UA have been demanding for years, may lead to serious investigation of their motives and management.

    There are more advantages of VR and GLT that we can add but this should suffice for the moment. Disadvantages fall entirely in the PIGMOB and match fixing camp, which is in fact another advantage!

  • Jambug


    4) It will significantly reduce the likelihood and ease with which the officials can bias the results….

    -My worry is a biased, or agenda lead video refs can ignore and or act upon incidents in exactly the same dishonest way referees have been doing for years if they so wish, and worse there judge jury and executioner, namely the media, will be just as bad as they have always been at ignoring incompetence when it suits.

    6) It will permit the PIGMOB to accurately assess their officials.

    -And therein lies the problem, it is not the PIGMOB that assess the officials, it’s the media. If the media says the ref was right the ref was right. If they say he was wrong he was wrong.

    It will be the same with Video Refs. If the media say he was right to revue or not revue a decision, or overturn or not overturn a decision, then that will be the judgement.

    Yes, I do want it bought in but the cynic in me thinks that ultimately it will have no impact at all on bias, because in the same way referees follow an agenda set by the media the Video Reviewer will do just the same.

    Sorry but that’s how I see it going, if indeed it does ever come in, which personally I doubt.

  • omgarsenal

    Jambug…..I share your skepticism because of the PIGMOB’s control over officiating and EPL matches BUT:

    a) The video reviewers will be watching the same thing the managers and fans see, so IF they consistently get it wrong, even with the countless replays possible and the video tools they can employ (enlargement, step by step, etc.) THEN not just the fans but the EPL teams will complain,, I am sure. The ideal would be to have officials from other countries do the reviewing but that might prove problematic?

    b) While the media critique officials’ performances they don’t assess them in the FIFA sense. The PIGMOB have assessors at every EPL game and If I am not mistaken there is an FA rep as well as, on occasion , a FIFA rep and also a EUFA rep there, or at least for the big games. It was that way in Canada whenever a FIFA list referee officiated a game, amateur or professional. I know that they will maintain their Disneyworld fantasy of 98% correct decisions BUT that claim can and will be compared to the number of times a referee changes or corrects his/her decision based on the video reviewers intervention. This intervention will be obvious and if it happens a lot in a match, will serve to highlight the officials’ failings or imperfections even more.

    While there is little we can do as supporters, and little the Clubs can do faced with the monopoly and monolith of the PIGMOB, there is some hope that eventually a bright light will shine on these cockroaches!

  • it’s a manly game jambug but cricket is even manlier. having been hit in the teeth by a cricket ball convinced me of that. cricket has used technology to good effect for years. is football so overrun by orangutans that it can’t creep forward into the 21st century?

  • Menace

    Orangutans are truly the long arm of the Law. If they had overrun football, the game would be a hoot.

  • Polo

    Hopefully the video ref will be introduced in the near future. It won’t be 100% perfect but it will eliminate many of the missed clear cut fouls by the refs. I believe where fouls are difficult to judge due to time constraints then benefit of doubt should be given. Also, some controversial decisions will be a good thing, keeps people talking and debating.

    Goal line technology has been great so I believe will video refs will be too, bring it on.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I hope this would allow more retrospective punishment, too.

  • WalterBroeckx

    GoingGoingGooner, if implemented well it should lead to less retrospective punishment but to more direct punishment.
    Let us take the Chelsea – Arsenal match of last year.
    If a video ref would have been there he would have told Dean to send off Costa. Now Costa won the match for Chelsea and Arsenal had to play with 10 and 9 man and it should have been the other way round Chelsea playing with 10 against 11 Arsenal players.
    Now we had retrospective punishment with Costa being banned for 3 matches and Gabriel being cleared. But we lost the points on the day. And that will change with video refereeing. If implented well and fair of course….

  • WalterBroeckx

    The way they work with it in Holland is in fact the same as we have been using at Untold Arsenal for many many many many years. And that is that in case of doubt the ruling on the field stands.
    In fact there were a few other doubtful incidents where the video ref just mentioned to the ref on the field that there was some debating points (offside with one of the goal when a shot from far out with one player standing in a non punishable offside position) but no other decisions were turned back.

    It is that open communication between the media and the referees that is so refreshing to hear and see. No hidden things like we see with the PGMO. No all in the open. As it should be.

  • Rantetta

    Well done Walter, and Usama.

  • Jambug


    “If a video ref would have been there he would have told Dean to send off Costa.”

    Do you honestly believe that will happen ? I hope you are right, but don’t you think the Video Ref is just as capable of ignoring the incident as the on field Referee ?

    We already have an example in the Sun today of how the media are trying to set up how the game should be refereed this Saturday.

    This is how pathetic the media are. Under the sub heading:

    THE ANALYSIS: Danny Higginbotham talks tactics.


    Then we have 300 words or so telling us how the diving, eye gouging, rolling in agony cheating is all just ‘clever tactics’ by Costa.

    There’s nothing wrong with it of course because it’s all Arsenals fault for getting frustrated and ‘falling for it’.

    There’s no mention at all that perhaps the frustration has NOTHING at all to do with what Costa is doing but moreover what the Referees are LETTING him get away with it. That doesn’t seem to of occurred to him.

    He actually admires Costa.

    In the main article Mark Irwin professes his LOVE for Costa.

    There is not a word of criticism for the referees that allow costa’s reprehensible behaviour to go in punished. What is it, 3…4 times he’s had to be retrospectively red carded ? That’s 3 or 4 times that referees have failed to do there job when it comes to Costa, and neither of these idiots feel it even deserves a mention.

    This whole article is aimed at telling the World and his dog that, yes Costa lives on the edge, and yes he does sometimes go to far, but isn’t that what we all love about him.

    And if the referee is happy to ‘let the game flow’ then that’s fine.

    And if Arsenal are mugs enough to get wound up, then that’s there fault, NOT Costas or the referees.

    The media at there worst. Professing there love for Costas cheating and at the same time failing to hold to account the officials that allow it to happen.

    Honestly it really is pathetic.

    Even though I think omgarsenal makes some good points I still don’t see how that will stop a potential biased match day official from being biased if he wants to be.

  • Jambug


    …go unpunished.

  • Jambug

    Typo 2

    …match day video official.

    Sorry, in a bit of a rush.

  • chibyke

    Here’s a worrying thought?what if the video ref is biased against a team that a retrospective action will favour and decides not to call the center refs attention? Or he is corrupt/ has been corrupted? Is there anything that compels him to make a call even when he doesn’t want to or feels he doesn’t need to?

  • Leon

    I’m a bit late to this but c’mon now, people are crying out for video tech and before it’s even introduced suspicions are being claimed.
    I think it’s supposed to be trialled in this season’s FA cup games, so we’ll get a good idea of what it’s all about then.
    Let’s get behind it.

  • Norman14


    Are you saying that even though the referee saw the incident, gave a free kick and a yellow card, the video ref over ruled him and said it should be a red card? If so, I’m a bit concerned with that because normal retrospective action only takes place if the field referee hasn’t seen the incident.

    I can just visualise Dean (as video ref) now – with Coq already on a yellow and a lenient field referee not giving a 2nd one for a further foul.

    The concept is fantastic, but if your game officials are already corrupt, then so is the system.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Of course it will be a matter of having honest video referees also. But the thing is that if a video referee doesn’t do his job or does it in wrong way they will be sure to attract problems.
    I understand that in Holland the top refs are very much in favour of the new system and so will do all they can to make it work.
    Now if you have refs who want to boycot the system then they could try to do so.

    But then the question will rise: how come that refs in Holland can do it and refs in the PL not? Because there is no logical explanation for one country being able to bring it without (much) problems and the other not.

    And then the only conclusion worldwide will be: there is something suspicious in the Pl refereeing. And they will be exposed for what they are. And that can be: biased, corrupt, below the normal standard,…. fill any other reason.

  • WalterBroeckx

    fill “in” of course.

    Fact is that people like us will be able to compare more and better with them. Certainly about the big decisions

  • Jambug


    I know what you’re saying, but you convince me why adding another level of offialdom will stop bias ?

    My argument has always been that the officials follow the path of least resistance. In other words they referee matches in a way they feel will get them the least criticism from the media, because it is how the media, and not the PGMO react to there performances that gets them stood down, relegated, big games, promoted or whatever.

    Convince me why the Video refs will be any different.

    I want it introduced. I want it to work. I want to be wrong.

    History just tells me it could just be another way of stitching us up.

  • OlegYch

    someone telling the ref what to do?
    this is a tad controversial…
    wouldn’t it be better if the ref had an opportunity to view the replay and decided for himself?

  • OlegYch

    i’ve seen a tv screen being brought to the line and ref reviewing the episode in a match in america
    it looked a bit comical, since an assistant was holding the screen and running around with it, but surely that could be improved from technical pov

  • Gord

    Google had an eyeglass thing, which is something like a heads up display, where images could be added to an existing visible scene I think.

  • Sam Sayyed

    Please, we need this technology before Mike Dean referees an Arsenal game next!

  • Gord

    The solution for Mike Dean is not Google Glass, it is a lobotomy.

    His preferably. Or 😈 Mike Riley.