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A Step Too Far

Is It Video Technology's Time?

Posted Oct 19, 2010 by Shaun Edwards

Webb could be using video technology

With Blackpool’s defeat to Manchester City being not only against the run of play, but also (following visionary hindsight) apparently against the rules of the game, Blackpool boss (and rightful King of England) Ian Holloway launched a tirade against Sepp Blatter that managed to encompass referees, video technology and even Doritos.  However wonderfully mad Ian Holloway may be, he makes an excellent point: it is becoming more and more essential for video technology to be brought into football.

The Blackpool boss noted that the referees are judged on what replays later showed, and that it was therefore a big contradiction to not allow them access to this technology themselves.  He’s perfectly correct: referees make mistakes, and it’s a universally accepted part of the game.  However, in the days where relegation or a lack of trophies can mean bankruptcy and free-fall, the stakes are significantly higher than they were, and therefore it has become more important for the decisions made to be the right ones.

One of the significant worries regarding this issue (and one that Lee Dixon brought up on MOTD2) was that the use of technology would slow up the game too much if used for anything other than goal-line technology.  This is simply not true:  technology has advanced so much that we are able to receive replays of incidents beamed into our homes within thirty seconds: how can ten seconds spent waiting for a decision from the third referee be a bad thing?  

The game is stopped plenty of times already for players diving – a habit that would incidentally decrease heavily if players knew that nine times out of ten they would be caught – so why not swap the time spent given on free kicks following dives for time spent making the right call on legitimately match-changing decisions.

As for the referees themselves, this is by no means a knock on them.  The job they do is a virtually thankless one, and is very tricky.  So why should they not have the help necessary?  The game would still need governing, but the referees would be able to avoid the stick they take by always making the right call in important decisions.

Finally, it would put a stop to managers blaming referees for their own team’s poor performance.  If Arsene Wenger is finally unable to blame everyone else and manipulate the game, then he’ll have to find real reasons why Arsenal just don’t cut it anymore.

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