15 February 2007

Five referees vs. video technology

So new UEFA President Michel Platini’s solution to controversial refereeing decisions is adding two more officials instead of video technology?

Surprisingly, I agree.

I’m still grappling with the issue of video technology. It works to varying success in sports from American football, rugby, hockey, basketball, and tennis, but footie is a different breed. Instant replay does have the potential to slow the game down far too much, or at least at inopportune moments, where the stoppage in play could stop a possible counter attack in its tracks. And in moments such as, say, Luis Garcia’s goal against Chelsea in the 2005 CL semifinals, no amount of replays will give a definite answer.

But something needs to be done to lessen the number of those moments. While video replay would probably conclusively settle more cases than additional officials or linesmen, the costs are probably too high.

Granted, having more referees on the pitch would necessitate UEFA and the nationals FAs spending more money on grassroots training for referees. The FA’s refereeing courses need to be more widely available, and more emphasis (although I know emphasis has grown in recent years) placed on recruitment. It would also help if there was a greater consistency in the application of current laws, but now I’m getting delusional. Quality officials aren’t a dime a dozen; it’s why we’re still stuck with the likes of Uriah Rennie and Graham Poll, and former referee Jeff Winter has recently come out and criticized the current lot.

Although I’m skeptical of this talk about putting them in the penalty box. Has UEFA seen English football? There are already enough people in a confined area. But say an extra referee (one for each half), an extra linesman on the opposite sideline, or an assistant on each goalline? I’m all for looking into it.

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