The recent use of video referees in the international friendly between Spain and France is an important step in the right direction for Fifa. The video referee played a pivotal part in the friendly, which Spain won 2-0. France had a goal ruled out for offside thanks to the video referee; the goal would have stood if there had been no video referee available.
The decision only took 40 or so seconds for the video referee to transmit their decision to the on-field referee. Gerard Deulofeu’s goal for Spain was then ruled out by the linesman but overturned by the video referee as he was adjudged to be onside. The success of this system shows that video referees and decision referrals can be easily integrated into modern football, and that a massive step in the right direction has been taken. An issue arising, however, is that football is a fluid game, and that the constant interruption of play for officials to check if a decision was indeed correct could cause the game to become stagnated and thus less interesting, as players are constantly interrupted and forced to wait for decisions, not allowing them to get in to full flow.
Much like in cricket, the captains, or even the managers on the touchline could have two or three ‘referrals’ where they can challenge an official’s decision. If this proves to be correct they keep the referral, but if it is incorrect they lose the referral. This would highlight how often officials are correct despite players, managers, and fans alike lambasting them for what, more often than not, are correct decisions.
Obviously, everyone makes mistakes, and considering that players know when they have committed a foul or dived, they would easily know when to challenge the referee’s decision. This would, in turn, lead to an instant decrease in incidents of players surrounding and abusing the officials, because they have the ability to challenge them.
If the referee is correct when players abuse him, then the players will be made to look slightly foolish in their pursuit of gamesmanship, and the referee will receive some much needed acknowledgment. Referees, after all, perform a thankless task. Berated when they get the decisions incorrect, rarely do they make the headlines when they get it right. It is high time that football officials get the support they need, just as they are afforded in other sports. Helping referees perform their duties cannot, after all, be deemed a bad thing. The introduction of video referees paves the way for more thought in football regarding the introduction of technology.
Using technology would not only help the officials, but it would help the wider footballing community acknowledge that referees have an incredibly tough job and they deserve much more respect than they are currently shown.
Image courtesy of Aaron Sholl