Oh, what a joy it must be to have the job of a goal-line official. Free admission to Champions League matches. One of the best views of the game from alongside the goal. And an opportunity to watch some of the world’s greatest footballers a mere few feet away. What’s that, you say? I have to help out the referee? Pfft! I’ll just pretend I don’t see anything. It’s got to be the easiest job in the world.
Of course, I jest. But after watching the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final between Chelsea and Manchester United Wednesday night, it makes me wonder what the point of having a goal-line official. I mean, how many times have you seen a goal-line official get involved to help the main referee? What’s the point of having two extra blokes on the pitch if they miss obvious fouls.
To me, the decision by UEFA to have two extra assistant referees on the pitch during Europa League and Champions League matches is a cop-out. They obviously know that the current officiating system is not foolproof, so instead of enacting a rule that would transform the modern game (i.e. video technology), they chose a system that relies on more officials. But it doesn’t get to the root of the problem which is that humans sometimes make errors. They will still make some even with video technology, but the reality is that there would be far fewer mistakes made and the game would end up being much fairer and democratic.
It’s a shame that the match between Chelsea and Manchester United ended the way it did with Patrice Evra’s foul against Ramires in the box not being called for a penalty. Chelsea supporters will feel cheated. Some Manchester United fans will feel vindicated after referee decisions went against them in previous matches between these two clubs. But the fact of the matter is that the game, and the sport, shouldn’t come down to this. Mistakes happen. Referees aren’t perfect, but when it comes to a tournament that is so monumental to both clubs, it would be a travesty for a side to progress to the next round if the difference was one poor decision by the referee.
Editor’s note: Don’t forget that you can win Champions League gear signed by Torres, Giggs, Fabregas, Rooney, Gerrard and Ronaldo.