Sport gives us many what would have happened if moments. Moments after which we can’t help but wonder how events would have transpired had those moments occurred differently.
What would have happened if Gerrard had never slipped?
What would have happened if Lampard’s goal was given versus Germany?
What would have happened if Pakistan turned up in the ’99 Cricket World Cup Final?
What if Henchoz’s handball had been given in the ’01 FA Cup Final?
What if Arsenal had been awarded a penalty for a shirt pull on Hleb in the CL QF in ’08 versus ‘Pool?
What if Rooney’s dive in the invincible-streak-breaking game was caught out?
As you can tell by now, the last four in the list above are forever-haunters. I know the cricket example seems out of place right now but I’ll be referring to the game shortly!
The last three examples are a result of an inability to appeal during a game. If a referee has made up his mind in a split second, no amount of fervent appealing will make him change his decision. If a linesman misses a blatant incident as well, no amount of appeals will change anything.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a purist and felt that human error is part of the game and an introduction of using video replays to aid decisions will take away that element of purity and luck from the game.
However, having seen video replays and technology such as hawk-eye, hot spot, and the snick-o-meter being introduced to cricket; coupled with the power given to both players and umpires on using the technology has made me more open to the idea.
Learning from Cricket
One of the major concerns people cite when the use of video replays to aid decisions in football is mentioned is that it will slow the game down – too much stop-start. The concern is valid if the assumption that’s taken is that a referee would require the aid of video replays for every decision he makes. Hence, that should not be the suggested solution.
In cricket, teams have the liberty of appealing against a decision. Each team has two appeals each per innings. The appeal, though, has to come from Captain of the side if the side is fielding; or, a batsman can also appeal. If video replays or any other technology prove that the umpire’s decision was correct, then the team that made the appeal loses one appeal i.e. they may only make one more appeal during that innings. Of course, if they lose out on their second appeal then that’s it for the innings for them, they can’t challenge any more decisions.
Tennis implements the appeal system in a similar fashion as well I believe. Coming back to cricket, umpires also have the liberty to ask for a replay or the aid of the third umpire – there are two umpires on the field in cricket, the third umpire sits up in the stands to guide on-field umpires with video replays – if they are ever unsure of a decision.
I believe a similar system can be implemented in football as well.
How to Incorporate Video Replays in Football
Appeals with Limits
Firstly, teams can be given the right to appeal against a decision such as a foul given against them or even appeal if they feel an opposition player has dived or is engaging in gamesmanship.
What about offside decisions? This one would be tricky but I feel the team should be allowed to challenge a goal that is scored against them when they feel the flag should have been raised. The way this would work is that the referee re-visit the decision IF a goal is scored i.e. opposition player is not flagged offside and scores, the conceding team appeals and the referee asks for video replay assistance.
To avoid the possibility of a frequent start-stop scenario, though, teams should be given the liberty of a limited number of appeals per half. This can be 2 appeals or even 3. Any unsuccessful appeal would mean they have one less appeal remaining for the half. Not only will this curtail the potential stop-start scenario people dread, but also place a check on players.
These days, players seem to whine about a lot of decisions that go against them. They can now put their money where their mouth is – if they really truly believe an injustice has been done, they can appeal against it. However, how willing will they be to appeal if they know they’ve actually committed a foul? Imagine that, less drama!
Moreover, we may even see less dives and play-acting if players know that the other team can bring a stop to play to point it out to the referee.
The question that remains is who is allowed to appeal? In cricket it’s the Captain of the fielding side or the batsman who faced the delivery. The Captain usually consults with the bowler or fielders who fervently appealed to sort of say
“Come on, do we really have a chance with this appeal? Are you really that confident?”
They need to consult and give an answer within a limited time frame before the game carries on.
So, if the Captain goes along with the appeals and asks the Umpire to review the decision and it turns out that the Umpire was right; the Captain may just think twice the next time the same player pushes for a review. The player himself may think twice and actually think about his team before he pushes for a review.
That’s how the players can be kept in check.
However, practical implementation of appeals in football may be a little difficult. If the Captain is on the other end of the field from where the play took place; how can he appeal a decision in quick time? If, for example, a team feels that they should be awarded a penalty and want to stop the play for a review; but, the Captain isn’t anywhere near the play, who should be allowed to ask the referee to stop the play for a review and on what basis should someone other than a Captain be allowed to do so?
I’m sure a solution can be found for this. Perhaps designate persons of authority like teams designate penalty takers? The referee would be informed before the kick-off as to who those designated individuals are.
Either way, limited appeals should ensure the following:
- Less injustice dished out in games
- Keeping players in check
- Not break the momentum of play
Wrapping It Up
In a day and age where there is so much money involved in the sport; some decisions can be make-or-break for teams and it’s unfortunate that nothing can be done about those decisions especially when evidence is available.
There is a chance for football to make the game more just, so to speak, and it would be better to do so sooner rather than later. Goal-line technology is a step in the right direction; more steps are required in the same direction.