The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

10:35am on Friday, 7th January, 2005:

Video Replays in Football


Over the New Year weekend, there were a number of incidents in Premier League matches where blatant handballs in the penalty area did not result in penalty kicks. The referees and their assistants (ie. linesmen, given that they were indeed all men) failed to notice what was absolutely obvious to a TV audience of millions.

With calls for the introduction of video replays still mounting, we had on Tuesday another incident of even more glaring proportions. Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll was caught off his line by an audacious lob from 50 metres by Spurs' Pedro Mendes. He raced back, but the ball had crossed the line by a good metre before he scooped it out. Leaving aside Carroll's decision not to come clean and admit he didn't save the goal (because he must have known it had crossed the line), what is to be done about such events? Why don't Premiership referees have access to the same video replays that home viewers have, given the fact that there are TV cameras at every match?

It used to be that the FA said they wanted the game to be the same at all levels, from Internationals down to kick-abouts in the local park, but once they started using video evidence for disciplinary proceedings that fell by the wayside. Besides, it's not a change to the rules of the game, just to the quality of data available to the officials. The main problem seems to be that if we did have video replay evidence (as happens in Rugby and American Football), players would contest every decision and bring the game to a grinding halt. The authority of referees would be diminished, until eventually they would end up merely being the mouthpiece of the fourth official who's looking at the replay monitor.

So why doesn't the FA make it a bookable offence for a player to request a video replay of an incident that is shown to be baseless? This might actually speed things up: no more defenders pleading that someone dived in the box when they know they tripped them, because not only would the evidence show what really happened but the defender would be sent off (booked for the foul, booked for the false appeal).

Hey, it could work.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).