With refereeing mistakes being somewhat more evident this World Cup (after all, referees are human) video replay review have been the subject of recent discussions.
The ongoing clamour on the topic of introducing video technology in football is perhaps a more real discussion given IFAB’s recent acceptance of goal-line technology in the sport.
Respect for referees in football is visibly more intolerable than it is in other sports. Even with the introduction of GLT in the Premier League this season, referees are still under a lot of pressure to give decisions. This shows that despite a higher accuracy in crucial decision making, players will behave in the same manner and that it isn’t primarily affected by the referee’s decision-making accuracy. Right or wrong, players will complain. It’s the passion for the game and quite often, the frustration of being unable to perform or every effort in attempting to sway the mind of the arbiter.
The introduction of video-replay technology would bring more satisfaction to neutral fans and less direct abuse to referees however the trust in referees would disappear. A referee who makes a crucial decision such as a penalty kick or dismissal and gets it wrong only to find out that the correct decision is otherwise will lose the trust of the players in his decision-making as well as his own trust in his decisions. A dangerous implication for refereeing that has been unexplored. It appears not to be a problem in other sports however, I have heard that sports psychologists already deal with umpires and match officials of other sports instructing them on what to do when such a scenario arises. Football is somehow different. Don’t you agree? It wouldn’t simply be the end of it.
Hardly the final point but referees may become slightly lazy knowing that should they get a big decision wrong that it would be corrected. Perhaps further issues?
If the technology was introduced, another interesting question is when would this technology be used? For every call or upon challenge request from coaches/managers? Would this disrupt the game? The flow and beauty of football? Would this introduce prolonged stoppages and perhaps commercial breaks making it more like its American football counterpart? Who would do the reviews? Could they be accused of bias? Why have referees on the field at all then and why not replace co-ordinating with a someone managing the videos?
Would the excitement of football be lost? Don’t wrong decisions in the game, give football such a passionate and strong fanbase with plenty of discussion to follow the game? Some teams suffer heart-break and other pure joy during matches and sometimes this comes down to a referee’s decision. A pure honest mistake. Would the talk by pundits, who are sometimes clueless, become less interesting? Would every match almost feel like a nil-nil draw game? Perhaps this is thinking to one extreme but it is something to consider…
For now, I believe FIFA thinks it is a dangerous path to follow but we may yet see a catalyst for video technology review in football. It could be the end of football as we now know it.