Date: 15th March 2017 at 7:23am
Written by:

Guest writer and Vital Spurs member Geofspurs sent us the following:

There’s been a lot of talk lately about testing replay-technology to clarify contentious issues during a game. I believe it to be a good idea in theory depending, I suppose, on how it will be used and which issues it will focus on. The best case scenario is that it will support the match officials to correct those game-changing decisions that have been either missed by the referee or where there is some uncertainty. The worst case scenario is that it will allow referees to pass the buck too easily and could well destroy the flow of the game by having too many stoppages.

The need for replay-technology would be reduced in the first place if match officials had the guts to follow the rule book and avoided the current frustrating situation where referees are not consistent in their decisions. A perfect example of this is the situation at corners where many defenders and attackers think that marking an opponent and wrestling with an opponent are both the same thing.

Most current referees ignore far too much that happens inside the penalty area and seem too reluctant to enforce the rules no matter how clear they are. Referees frequently ignore tackles inside the area that they would blow their whistle for if it occurred somewhere else on the park. Quite simply, that is gutless, unfair, and conflicts with the rule book. It can also create frustration for players resulting in ‘player melt-downs’ during the game. It’s a surprising situation because the powers that be in English football (and world football, come to that) want to see more goals being scored so that the game becomes more exciting for the fans. That’s why the back-pass was banned and the offside rule was tweaked.

But referees remain too reluctant to use their whistles. Shirt pulling occurs all over the park in most games but is largely ignored…even when an official must see it quite clearly. Red cards, incorrectly given adversely affect a game and replay-technology could improve things. But should the same apply to a yellow card which has less immediate impact on a game, even though it may be incorrect?

Goal-line technology is obviously a big hit but how else can technology be used to improve a game without having a negative impact on it as a spectacle? Off-side decisions can be crucial to the outcome of a game if they are incorrect and we’ve all seen situations where goals have been given, or not given, due to mistaken off-side decisions. But where do you draw the line; fouls, throw-ins and corners can all be contentious and poor decisions by the officials and they are part and parcel of the game. If every decision is referred to ‘the eye in the sky’ official how many minutes of actual playing time would be lost despite the fact that time would no doubt be added to the game.

How will it work? How will the concept evolve? Will it follow cricket where a team captain has so many referrals he can use in a game but with the caveat that referees can also refer at their own discretion? Will it be used at the total discretion of the official/s? What football issues do supporters think should be addressed by replay-technology, and what should be left alone?


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2 Replies to “The Eye In The Sky”

  • I’m a big fan of using technology where it makes sense. As Geof says in the article, it’s about figuring out when to use it. It’s worth remember technology is as much a deterrent rather than an enforcer. It’s like a speed camera. Because we know they’re there we don’t speed as much. For me, Zlatan never throws an elbow if he thinks technology will catch him during the game itself. Mings would have also made that extra effort to miss Zlatan’s head. Ashley Williams would not have cheated and wrestled Kane down if he thought the ref would just refer the decision upstairs. We would have spent a lot of that game 3-0 with technology. If used correctly, it will massively improve football and not slow the game down. Saying all that, just reverting the offside rule to one man offside, team offside would massively improve the game as well. That’s a no brainer but FIFA are too thick. They just want more goals rather than letting fans see the true art of defending in a game.

  • I’m all for it and I think a 5th official could follow the game on a screen in real time and communicate with the ref on the pitch almost instantly. The main ref has that input and could yet make judgment calls as he sees fit. Rugby has done a good job of using technology live and there is something to be learned there. As far as offsides, knowing when the ball has crossed a line (not just the gal line, but all over the pitch), the technology already exists and could very easily be implemented. Why not? The ref could just focus on fouls. I remains to be seen how that would be implemented in the lower leagues though, because all of that is expensive. There is a risk of having a massive gulf in refereeing accuracy between the top leagues and lower divisions.

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