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Should There Be Video Replays For Refs ?
Friday, 8th Apr 2016 09:30

Many Saints fans say there should be video replays to aid referees after several decisions have gone against Saints in recent weeks.

The debate rages in football about video replays as week in week out a controversial decision is made by a referee which has subsequently been proved wrong by television replays.

It is a subject that divides fans, the first issue being the time that a video replay would take to review by a fourth official, whilst it is easy to have video evidence in a game like cricket due to it being a slower game and more stop start, but football is a game that is faster paced with fewer breaks in play and there are those that would say that it would detract from the game itself if it was slowed down.

But whatever your thoughts the fact is that in today's fast paced game, a game that is heavily scutinised by TV replays it is unfair to ask referee's to get it 100% right every time without any help.

Indeed referee's are being hampered in what is already a very difficult task by the fact that many players resort to cheating to try and gain an advantage, the first step is to help refs by stopping the cheats.

That could be easily done by introducing retrospective action on those diving etc, we have all watched tackles that at first viewing in real time whether at the game or on television appear to be either blatant dives or the victim has been virtually cut in two, subesquent replays show the real truth and often it is that there has been little or no contact, if we take the pressure off the refs on this one then it makes there life easier.

But the problem is if you had a video replay for every contentious tackle a Premier league match would take around 3 hours from kick off to final whistle, so I would suggest that retrospective video evidence after a game would be the first step in cutting out cheating, it is used in issues such as off the ball incidents, so why not for diving.

If we did this and say introduced a system where someone caught diving in the retrospective viewing by a panel after the weekend's games they would be given a one match ban, a ban that would be increased with each subsequent offence, ie 2nd offence two game ban, 3rd offence three game ban, I am certain that diving would be eradicated virtually overnight. No manager is going to risk losing a number of players to suspension for diving and few players are going to want to risk the loss of bonus's due to those suspension's.

The reality is that whilst it is easy to get away with and little punishment is given, diving and cheating is going to continue, the potential rewards are far greater than the punishment of a yellow card, a punishment that is random and not consistent.

So having taken the first step and eased the pressure on referee's by taking the blatant cheating out of the game, we can then look at what is needed to be done about those controversial decisions.

In the video below my TUI colleague Clive Foley suggests a system of appeals where each team would have say two appeals per game to use, similar to how they manage it in cricket.

This is in theory a good idea, but the problem is putting it into practice, in cricket each decision is immediately followed by a stop in play, whereas in football the game could well continue and how do you stop the play to review it.

There are basically two ways of reviewing, either the team lodging the appeal does so with the fourth official who then stops the game for the review, or the fourth or even a fifth official looks at the incident independently of the ref whilst the game continues. Both methods have their issues.

The problem is that stopping a game to review a decision could create more issues than it solves, just when does the ref stop the game, lets take this scenario.

A player goes down in the box the referee waves play on and the defending side clear and find themselves three on two on the break, does the ref stop the game then or does he wait till the next time the ball is out ? If the appeal turns out that the correct decision has been made, the defending side has lost a very good chance of a goal through no fault of their own. I won't go too deeply into the fact that appeals could be used in this situation tactically, the same scenario in a crunch game in the final minute ! What manager is not going to stop the game in his tracks at that point to stop the opposition scoring.

Of course the second scenario is that the game is not stopped and the appeal is reviewed by a fifth official whilst play continues, the issues with this are also complex, the most basic one is that the flow of the game will be broken, suddenly penalties will be awarded minutes after the incident whilst play could be anywhere in the field, of course common sense would prevail and the decision would be announced in a break in play. But in the time the decision is being reviewed much can happen, someone could score or be sent off, the problems could be intensified.

Take this scenario, Player A makes a last gasp tackle as last man, the referee waves play on, the attacking side appeal, whilst that appeal is reviewed Player A goes up field is brought down by Player B and a penalty awarded and the Player B is sent off and the penalty s scored.

Suddenly the result of the appeal is that Player A did bring down his man and should have been sent off, it could be chaos and the debates in the media would be even more complex than now, should you bring back play to the initial incident, award a penalty and send Player A off and then cancel the second penalty and goal and bring Player B back on the pitch ?.

This would be a ludicrous turn of events and it would turn a game into a farce, but the controversy that Player A could influence the game a lot in the minutes it would take to uphold the appeal, award a penalty against his side and send him off would trigger even more screaming and stamping of feet amongst managers than it does now.

There are some though who would say some justice is better than none and of course the scenario's I have just described would be rare, but it does highlight just how complex the issues are and that although a system of video appeals can work in games like cricket and even Rugby where the game is less flowing, football is a different kettle of fish.

Something does need to be done and video replays seem the logical step forward in solving the problem, indeed I can't see any other way! But for me the issue is in implementing a system that is streamlined and works and the problems lie in the free flowing nature of the game and the implications of stopping and starting it.

Unlike the goal line technology that is instantaneous and within seconds the watch bleeps before the game has time to move on, video reviews require time and either way of stopping the game with the players staring at the screen waiting for the verdict as in cricket, or playing on whilst the incident is reviewed have their issues.

Take a look at the video below where Ugly Inside founder Clive Foley and Ugly Inside Video Channel presenter Freddie Hunt give their opinion on the situation, then give us your views below.

About The Ugly Inside:
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halftimeorange added 12:05 - Apr 8
My main concern is that penalty appeals should be reviewed. I don't share the view that the free-flowing nature of the game would be fatally disrupted. If English fans can't tolerate interruptions why do they freely flock to see American Football when it visits this country. I do agree that diving should attract post-match review bans, just as violent conduct does. The fact is that a bad decision costing a club relegation or promotion in today's financially-driven EPL could and should be eradicated.

BoondockSaint added 13:59 - Apr 8
Agree halftime-although I would make one addition: if a player falls down like he is shot, and is not hurt, the ref whips out a gun and shoots him!

Dan_P326 added 14:52 - Apr 8
Shouldn't even be a question, we have the technology why not use it? If we're worried about disrupting the free flowing nature of the sport then why not follow in the footsteps of many other sports that use the technology and only allow a certain number of challenges per game.

WestSussexSaint added 16:51 - Apr 8
For every team that feels aggrieved at the ref for a poor decision there is a team that has benefited. If technology supporting refs on say penalty decisions is popular with Saints, given how many clear ones we don't get awarded, I suspect it will be equally unpopular with teams like Man U who get away with murder most weeks.

SanMarco added 16:53 - Apr 8
Good article - shows that knee-jerk 'let's have reviews' reactions need more careful consideration. I like the retrospective measures suggested in the article for diving and so I think therfore that pens and red cards are the two vital areas:

The game needs to be stopped at once by ref or video official as a "this needs review decision' rather than the ref going one way or the other and then this decision being reviewed (this avoids the 'decision staying with him' or being' overturned' like in cricket and would protect refs' integrity/respect). The video ref would then ASAP decide in conjunction with the on-field man, I don't think the latter should see the video himself - too time consuming. Restart with pen/red card or bounce-ball as appropriate.

If both officials feel its absolutely not a pen/red card then game goes on and in that I suppose is the main objection to my idea. If both get it wrong 'in the moment' like Oliver did on Sunday then it still stays wrong. I do however feel my idea would clear many controversies up and there would, anyway, have to be a leaning on the side of caution if it is deemed too hard to tell.

I don't like the idea of cricket/US style challenges - for both the reasons stated in the article and because if you get a real sickener after you have legitimately used your challenge on a marginal one then you are no better off.

I know all of our ideas will be subject to the 'slowing down the game' criticism - and I fear it would give Sky the green-light to finally have in-match commercial breaks but I do feel something should be done...


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