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Rooney’s Fall; It’s Only A Friendly; Do We Need Extra Officials?

Before Saturday, I remained undecided on whether or not FIFA should add two more officials to the mix. But since England won the surreal penalty against Slovenia, I find myself tipping in the direction of adding the extra officials.

In one of the more eye-popping Did-That-Really-Just-Happen moments I’ve seen in a while, Wayne Rooney managed to win a penalty after tugging on his Slovenian marker’s shirt, losing his balance and falling to the ground. When the whistle blew, I was certain the ref must be pointing the other way: giving Slovenia the kick for Rooney’s tug. But the announcers were telling me England won a penalty out it. Was the Slovenian being punished for having a shirt made of such resiliant material it was able to pull Wayne Rooney to the ground?

As a neutral watching a friendly I found the incident disgusting and amusing at the same time.

If it had been a match that mattered I might have been more outraged, if only for the principle of the thing. But since the match outcome doesn’t get anybody into or knock anybody out of the World Cup, I allowed myself to be whistfully baffled.

Despite the inconsequential aspects of the penalty (which England converted), it still begs us to raise our eyebrows and ask if we need the extra officials.

If it can happen in a friendly, it can happen in a match that counts. It might be chalked up to incompetence in this case. If I was under the impression that Rooney had tugged the shirt before the replay even occured while watching the match on a 19-inch screen in my apartment in Boston, it seems the linesman or the ref should have been able to spot this infringement from his spot on the pitch. If not, I say it’s time to add those extra sets of eyes.

The whole idea is to have another official at each end of the pitch to keep watch over the area around the goal. There’s so much potential for that game-changing moment in and around the box. I’m not just talking about goals themselves (did the ball cross the goal-line, did it not, was that a penalty or a fair tackle, etc) but the moments like adjudging whether or not the ball went off a defender or an attacker turn into the difference between a corner and a goal kick, between a defensive or offensive throw in. Taken right these can be as dangerous goal-scoring chances as a free-kick just outside the box. Another pair of eyes at each end can help with these distinctions and help insure that matches are determined by tactics and play rather than by incidence and missed calls.

Football just might be the world’s tensest game. Low-scoring matches can hinge on that extra chance on goal. In the attacking thirds, the tension mounts. The attackers push the defenders back like a giant spring pushed against a wall. Will things snap with a goal? Will the spring explode outward with a clearance? With everyone wound up in these moments tackles often get rash. Play gets dicy. Traffic builds. The linesman and the ref cannot always keep up with everything.

The two extra officials could be the insurance policy the game needs. They can feed additional information to the head referee. The look from another angle. That extra take on things. If the linesman didn’t get back to the right position in time… if the head official didn’t have the right vantage… there’s another official with a chance to get a clear look at the play.

It won’t solve everything, but adding the officials can cut down on those Did-That-Really-Just-Happen moments. I look forward to seeing what the test-run of extra eyes in the Europa cup yields.

Sidenote: remind me never to play poker against Wayne Rooney. He had the blankest face after he went down. Inside he must have been screaming: How did I just get away with that!!

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  1. MattyDub

    September 9, 2009 at 7:15 am

    “bryan September 7, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Clearly a case of a frustrated Rooney lashing out at the defender holding his shirt. When he realised he wasn’t going to reach the ball, Rooney tried to kick his defender without making it seem too obvious. The banging the fist on the ground was to escape getting carded.

    Wasn’t a dive, but i’m not saying Rooney is entirely innocent as well. Poor refereeing imo.”

    Exactly what I thought…

  2. Baz

    September 8, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    there are 3 officials in the biggest games in the world right down to ur local weekend games (not including the fourth official). my point is that if we introduced more refs, this would be impossible at every level of football around the world, hence their would be a difference in the games as you head down the lower leagues to your social games.

    football is a great sport because no matter what level you play at, fundamentally it always is the same.

    thats what i think anyway

  3. Phil McThomas

    September 8, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    @Oliver – there’s only one ref…and four assistants. If there is any disagreement, they ref must decide what to do.

  4. sucka99

    September 8, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Rooney diving to win a penalty at home? I’m shocked. Next think you know Jens Lehman will be accused of having a bad attitude.

  5. oliver

    September 8, 2009 at 10:11 am

    The thing that worries me about extra refs is what if they disagree on something?

    Say RefA is convinced it’s a penalty but RefB is just as convinced it’s a dive. Whose opinion carries more weight?

  6. LI Matt

    September 8, 2009 at 4:49 am

    But … but … Rooney never does anything wrong!

    Just ask Ricky Carvalho. That whole thing was a figment of Ronaldo’s imagination (or so I’m told by England fans).

  7. me not you

    September 8, 2009 at 3:29 am

    it’s an article…

  8. you

    September 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    report the facts

  9. bryan

    September 7, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Clearly a case of a frustrated Rooney lashing out at the defender holding his shirt. When he realised he wasn’t going to reach the ball, Rooney tried to kick his defender without making it seem too obvious. The banging the fist on the ground was to escape getting carded.

    Wasn’t a dive, but i’m not saying Rooney is entirely innocent as well. Poor refereeing imo.

  10. Mark Flint

    September 7, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    The issue is extra ref.or not, and I vote no! Too many chefs spoil the broth or something like that.

  11. Red Rupert

    September 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    The defender pulled Rooney by the shoulder before there was any contact from Rooney. Rooney then started pulling at the defender and they both fell over. The ref gave the pen for the initial infringement by the defender. Harsh. Maybe play should’ve been allowed to continue as both players fell in the strugglke for the ball, although Rooney probably was the main cause of the defender falling, but that was after the initial foul by the defender. As for diving, there wasn’t even a hint of a dive. Some people need to take a cold shower – you’re clearly more interested in painting Rooney to be the villain than seeing any sort of reason. Either that, or this place is full of Arsenal fans who support the club with the worst disciplinary record in history, yet bleat the loudest. Or maybe Liverpool fans, who 30% of their games against 10 men and get at least twice as many penalties (14 last season) as anyone else. Funny that, the worst offenders cry the loudest.

  12. dlink09

    September 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Terry claiming English players don’t cheat, what a ………………..

  13. DaveMo

    September 7, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Just as long as he’s banned from the same competition (international friendlies).

    I’ve seen speculation that WR was protesting against the foul he thought surely the ref had just called against him. As in “I barely he touched him, and he flopped”. Instead the ref gifted him with a penalty. So much for the theory he’s much different than Eduardo. WR didn’t dive, but he happily played along afterwards.

  14. Jose

    September 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    It looked to me like rooney intended to deceive the refs. He pounded his fists into the ground calling attention to the foul and thus was rewarded the penalty. He made those refs look silly especially after watching what transpired via the instant replay. He should be banned at least two games the same as Eduardo.

  15. willo

    September 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Rooney is not a cheat. He told us last week. So he is a liar and a cheat now!
    The man is a fraud in football and in life.

    Cheats don’t prosper, unless you play fpor Man Utd!!!!
    Ban the prick.

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