Using instant replay to assist the referee in making decisions on allowing goals at the World Cup level needs serious consideration.
Here’s the main reason why: instant replay is already used to review goals by everybody BUT the referee. Thanks to digital technology and cameras aimed at the goal from numerous angles commentators and fans watching on television get to see the replay immediately following a goal or a goal that’s not allowed.
It was obvious to everyone seeing the replay in the Germany-England match that England made a goal. The ball was clearly over the line. How could the referee have possibly made such an obvious error.
The referees are at a disadvantage and get unfairly judged on calls they have to make in an instant and then carry on with the match while spectators around the globe are able to review the calls thanks to the phalanx of cameras in place to capture broadcasts.
So the replay is already available frame-by-bloody-hooligan-frame. Those who don’t get to review it are the officials calling the match.
As a referee, albeit very much an amateur, an official has a feel for how the game is flowing but seeing every angle is impossible. While soccer doesn’t look as fast as basketball, football, and certainly not hockey the field of play is large and there are 22 players. Plus, the action in a soccer match is not always on the ball.
Using instant replay for a soccer match needs to be done sparingly and should only be allowed to determine goals and non-goals so the flow of the game is not interrupted.
Here’s how it could take place:
A fifth official is in a review booth at the press box level – or for the World Cup – the review takes place in FIFA headquarters – or both places.
The fifth official then calls the referees, who are wearing headsets, and says whether the whole ball was or was not over the whole line. The referee is still in charge of the match and can determine if there are other reasons not to allow a goal.
For a review of goals, reviews should take less than 10 seconds since time is running and does not stop.
Again, the only reason I advocate the use for instantly replay in FIFA matches is because the referee is at a disadvantage since the technology is capturing the action and it’s instantly available to viewing audiences.
Broadcasters, journalists, and fans who watch a slow motion angle that the referee and assistant referee did not see wonder how the officials could blow such “obvious” calls. If it was obvious to the officials in the first place, they would have called it and called it correctly.
Instant replay would have limited use. I don’t believe it should be used to determine every offside – only whether the whole ball was over the whole goal line. Maybe it could be used for offside during stoppage time.
Referees at the World Cup are among the best in the world. They have officiated thousands of matches – yes, thousands – in their lifetime experiencing hundreds of unique and bizarre reasons to make or not make decisions. A FIFA referee has officiated far more matches in a season than a player will play.
And, yet, the use of instant replay brings their judgment and ability to into question – and brings it into question often unfairly.
A wise and common-sense approach to using instant replay would simply provide the referees with instant information to use in making a decision. Again, broadcasters and television viewers have access to the angle; it’s only fair for the referee team to have the same access.For another angle on referee calls and links to other referee articles I’ve written click here to read about the U.S. – Slovenia referee call.