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Platini Proposes Five Referees

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.

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  1. SoccerShoutPhil

    February 17, 2007 at 7:57 am

    I’ve been banging on about having 5 refs for about 5 years now (initially to friends and family but for the last year on the Soccer Shout podcast).

    Two quick points:

    1) I don’t see these refs helping with offsides. The lino has the best view for that.

    2) Disagreements. This will work as it does now with ref and assistant. The assistant will signal ‘foul’ or ‘play on’ and the ref will decide whether to blow or not.

  2. JC

    February 15, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I can’t see how this is a bad idea. More refs means fewer missed calls (in theory). If it takes 50 f’ing refs to get the calls right then they should put 50 f’ing refs in the game. Correct calls are paramount.

  3. Anonymous

    February 14, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    what would have to happen in order for 5 refs to be tried in a U17 tourney? is there a vote or something?

  4. Anonymous

    February 14, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    The biggest problem in football is diving. For example in Heskey’s case as the ref doesn’t give the penalty then Heskey should get a yellow card.

  5. The Gaffer

    February 14, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry RioCharlie — just trying to use a good example that’s fresh in many of our minds (i.e. Wigan against Arsenal).

    The Gaffer

  6. Anonymous

    February 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    From what keep reading, the main issues are:

    1. fouls/dives in the box
    2. did the ball completely cross the goal line
    3. offside

    A second referee on the goal line can cover 1 and 2, but not 3. The assistant referees can call 3, but are too far away to reliably call 1 and 2. And one of it will work unless the head referee makes the decision to call it or not.

    One way to help is to simplify offside. There are so many scenarios that could be offside that it’s difficult to police.

  7. riocharlie

    February 14, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    This is perhaps the most idiotic suggestion ive heard to date. They cant field enough good referees as it is now and they want to triple the number? Jesus.

    Secondly, let go of flamini’s foul no foul please gaffer your prejudice is now tiresome. You also dont mention Henry getyting pulled over in the box even more physically than did heskie. Im not talking of the dive but his run to the middle of the box in the 2nd half. If you let one go, you let the other go, if you call one, you call the other.

  8. midnightjester

    February 14, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    It is perhaps a fortuitous coincidence I find you on this issue.

    My name is Kevin Marshall, I am huge a fan of Premiership football.

    My disgust for unpunished blatant cheating in The Premiership has reached such levels that I have, from today, committed part of my free time to starting a pressure website against cheating.

    It is:

    In it we encourage people to (1) sign a petition against cheating, (2) send emails to the FIFA, the FA and Barclays, sponsors of the Premiership, (3) boycott products that sponsor cheats.

    With limited publicity (mention on a couple of blogs) the petition is already up to about 50 signatories in just a few hours and the site has 100s of hits.

    Is there any way you would be willing to give it publicity/ become involved/ help actively campaign against cheats?

    Please visit the site and consider becoming involved.


  9. Anonymous

    February 14, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    5 refs is ridiculous. controversial calls by the refs for me is part of the game. people still talk of hurst’s “goal” that gave england the world cup and maradona’s hand of god. it’s part of the folklore: no to video replay and certainly no to 5 refs(what is platini thinking?)

  10. Simon Burke

    February 14, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I disagree strongly on this stonewall penalty that Flamini gave away. My first reaction was a penalty but on replay you see Heskey, a man twice Flamini’s size throw himself to the ground. Touching someone isnt a penalty. Just as henry dived calllously in the first half, this was a dive too, heskey couldnt go over fast enough for my money and deservedly got nothing.

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