In a game of football, there are 9,500 seconds or more for players to score, so why are matches so often decided by a single controversial incident that flashes by in a few seconds?
Take Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Saturday, for example. Never mind the fact that both teams had a handful of relatively easy chances to put the game away. But it was one incident more than any that changed the landscape of this game and that was the penalty decision by Mike Dean after the clash between Wayne Rooney and Manuel Almunia.
Bottom line, Mike Dean had to award a penalty in this incidence. For him not to would have been a monumentally bad decision whether it was at Old Trafford or not.
BUT, the fact of the matter is that Wayne Rooney played for the penalty. He knew it was a race between himself and Almunia for the ball and he knew that if he timed his run perfectly that he could make contact with the ball and that Almunia wouldn’t be able to stop himself from knocking down Rooney.
But did Mike Dean in fact make the correct decision?
It’s a really tough call. In the heat of the game, I believe Dean made the correct decision. However, if you analyze the incident in slow-motion, you’ll notice that after Rooney knocks the ball ahead of Almunia’s grasp, Rooney begins to fall forward before Almunia makes contact with him.
To me, the decision of whether Mike Dean was correct comes down to whether he’s able to use technology or not. In the heat of the game and in real-time, it looks like a penalty. But if he was able to use video replay and slow-motion, he would have seen that Rooney dove.
This is a perfect example of how referees have an almost impossible job to get the decisions correct. Their job, I believe, will be made even harder if/when additional assistant referees are placed behind goals to see if balls cross the line and to help referees with decisions like these. Again, because they won’t have video replay or technology to help them out, they’re only as good as their eyes and brains are seeing incidents like this in real-time. The addition of these assistant referees behind goals is not going to make eradicate wrong decisions — it’ll only reduce them.
To me, if referees had the aid of technology, they would have seen that Rooney did in fact dive to win the penalty and should have received a yellow card. That said, Rooney didn’t have to dive. If he hadn’t fallen forward, Almunia would have knocked him down. But Rooney didn’t want to take the chance of Almunia somehow avoiding contact with him, which is why I believe he dove.
This one incident shows how flawed the sport of soccer is. If this was the NFL, you would have TV replays to categorically make sure that the correct call was made. But in soccer, there is always going to be controversy for as long as technology is not used.
Imagine what the reaction would have been at Old Trafford if Dean hadn’t awarded that penalty. Blooming heck!
Here’s the reaction of a few select bloggers and football fans on Twitter to the incident:
So the controversy rages on. United get the three points and Arsene Wenger is understandably furious. What’s your reaction to the incident and do you believe video technology should be used in games, should Rooney have received a yellow card or am I totally wrong with my analysis? Click the comments link below and share your opinion.