New UEFA President Michel Platini has the answer for how to reduce the number of incorrect decisions made by referees: Add two referees in a match, so there are five officials on the pitch at one time.
Platini’s idea is to place a referee’s assistant in each of the penalty areas to assist with offside calls or penalty calls. The two linesmen would remain in their current position, while the referee would traverse the field as he does now.
Five referees in a match? I know what you’re thinking, but rather than immediately dismissing the idea, it has some potential.
Take, for instance, Arsenal’s match this past Sunday against Wigan in the Premier League. There were two very controversial moments in the match that had huge ramifications for the final score. There was Arsenal’s first goal, which should have been called offside. And there was Flamini’s foul on Emile Heskey, which should have resulted in a penalty for Wigan and a red card for the Arsenal Frenchman.
Now if there had been assistant referee’s located in the penalty boxes, they definitely would have had a better perspective on whether Flamini fouled Heskey or not. And they would have been in a position to help the referee make a decision about Arsenal’s first goal and whether it was offside or not.
While I believe Platini’s idea should be tested in an upcoming tournament, such as u-17’s or something similar, I do have a concern about Platini’s suggestion: What would happen if there is disagreement between the assistant referee’s on the pitch?
What if Platini’s concept was in place for the Arsenal against Wigan match? For Arsenal’s first goal, the linesman kept his flag down. But what would have happened if the assistant referee in the box saw it as an offside call? A debate would ensue between the linesman, assistant referee and referee. If the referee didn’t see the incident clearly, he would then have to make a decision based on the arguments of both of the two individuals.
If an incorrect decision was then made by the ref, and the goal stood, then that raises more controversy and you’d have critics and analysts complaining that even five referees on a pitch couldn’t get the call correct.
I’m not saying Platini’s idea won’t work, but it needs careful consideration first.
Editor’s Note: Former Premiership referee Jeff Winter will be a guest on a future EPL Talk Podcast. If you have any questions you’d like to ask Jeff, please post them here or visit the message boards at the Premiership Community.