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Poll: What Should FIFA Do To Help Referees?

Football Goal Line Referee v Video Replay

Ireland’s loss may be football’s gain. Fifa may fast-track the approval of an additional assistant referee on each goal line in time for next summer’s World Cup in South Africa. This system is currently being tested in the Europa League. As we well know, on-the-spot human judgment is not perfect, but an additional referee positioned by the goal would have been in a prime position to spot Thierry Henry’s handball and could have helped unapologetic referee Martin Hansson make the right call. As evidence of this, take a look at the cartoon below which was originally published in The Daily Mail newspaper.

Others, including Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, have called for the introduction of video replay into football. Many tradition-minded sports have incorporated video replay into their gameplay, including cricket, rugby union and tennis.

Now, what say you, EPL Talkers? Would you favor the full-on global introduction of an additional assistant referee on each goal line? Or the introduction of video replay for goals? Or would you rather the game remain policed as-is?

We should find out what FIFA’s decision will be after their emergency meeting on December 2nd. But until then, let’s hear it from you, the readers.

Daily Mail Video Replay Cartoon

Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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  1. Warwick

    June 30, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    FIFA should have a good look at how video technology is used in Rugby League and Rugby Union, especially in the National Rugby League competition in Australia.
    I suggest that FIFA introduce technology in stages:
    [Stage 1] Use it only to check on goals, and then only when the referee invokes it. If the ref is unsure he draws a rectangle with his hands and it goes upstairs to the 5th official who replays it in slow or fast motion. Normally it will take 15-20 seconds to give a decision. If it is really “iffy”, the decision might be “Refs Call” but otherwise it will be “Goal” or “No goal”. The 5th official can look at anything within the rules – ball not crossing line, offside, unfair interference – which might cause the goal to be disallowed.
    [Stage 2] Once FIFA is comfortable with Stage 1 they could extend it thus. The ref is wired up so he can hear input from the 2nd to 5th officials. They can, with certain protocols, interrupt to give the ref advice. Example: a clear offside that was missed by the 2nd or 3rd official. They don’t do it unless they are certain. In some cases the ref may want to consult the 5th official to decide between a yellow or a red card, for example, or whether someone has dived, but I concede that this is more difficult.
    At no point is any video or 5th official advice given in response to player requests.
    The time used should be added on but it will generally be very short.

  2. MomoBender

    June 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

    There should be a 5th official that’s watching the TV broadcast/replays all the time. So he can tell the referees through the headphones within like 5 seconds of the foul (since the replays show pretty quickly after the offense) whether he made a good decision or not.

  3. Martyn Ford

    June 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Looking for world wide protest list and live forum for benefit of the game not the FIFA please email me here , many thanks

  4. Al_bundy

    June 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

    it would seem to me that the game is a contact sport and that being so perhaps proffessional refs with proffessional accpects of the game should be introduced to see a guy fall and thats a foul and he gets a red card says the games maniupliated and those who have enough money can buy a ref as they need it anything else is a frase to the game of soccer and what it means

  5. Dr RMA

    December 14, 2009 at 12:08 am

    One more offcial on the pitch is just one more person that can get it wrong.
    There has to be a way to review using video. Make a system in which Managers can challenge; they get 2 or 3 challenges a match; if they challenge a decision correctly they retain the challenge, if they challenge a refs decision incorrectly they lose one of their challenges.
    Simple, I don’t see how this would interrupt the game so much because if a manager gets it wrong 2 or 3 {whichever} times then they lose the ability to challenge and its their own fault.
    One way or another their has to be video introduced to help the game, one bad decision affects the whole outcome of a game.

  6. simon

    December 13, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    As a chelsea fan I have watched in amazement not at the football sometimes but Howard Webb disgusting attempts at refereeing. After just watching Liverpool v Arsenal, again I cannot believe he has a job. It was a clear penalty and red card for Gallas. Only weathermen make as many mistakes and keep their jobs. Or is he getting paid by bookies to throw games.

  7. Jay

    November 25, 2009 at 1:54 am

    One more official on the pitch.

  8. Brad in SoCal

    November 24, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    If adding officials, posting them behind the goal lines would be pretty wasteful a big part of the time when play is at the opposite end. But if all 4 “outside officials (not counting the current “4th” official) worked as a team to cover all lines, with two staying in one half and two staying in the other, that might work. On corners the “off” official could come in close to the net to monitor the box, while the “outfield” official at the midway line (one on either side remember) could continue to watch the sideline on that side. Meanwhile, you still have an official to make sure the corner is taken correctly.

    Or, to cut costs, one could just add another “center” ref to work in partnership with the current center ref. That ref could position himself in a triangle with the R and the AR and next to the goal on corners.

    I think video replay has too many problems of interpretation to implement successfully. Angles are all-important, etc. Basketball used to have two and added a third. Football has too many controversial calls now that get caught and second-guessed on TV. It’s time to add one or two more officials, but let’s hope it’s done well.

    • Brian

      November 24, 2009 at 9:01 pm

      Years ago, the NHL added a 2nd on-ice official as an extra set of eyes to catch infractions that were missed by the lead official. This system has been working now for over 10 years and for all intensive purposes it has worked out great. Combine that with video review of all goals from a central location in Toronto, and you have a very good system.

      Adding a second referee to work along with the “4th official” and the two assistants on each sideline would allow two sets of eyes to watch all aspects of play in each half and reduce the amount of ground each referee has to cover. In the NHL a second referee halved the amount of distance a referee had to skate. This led to better fitness and less tired officials over the course of an 82 game season.

      The best solution would be to follow the NHL model for FIFA. Add a second referee on the pitch, and have all goals reviewed on video. If there was a problem with a goal, a phone call is made to the “4th official” to hold play, a decision is made, and then the game continues.

      Under no circumstance would I advocate reviewing penalty decisions, red cards, or other judgement calls. That would open a can of worms we don’t even want to consider.

  9. Geoff

    November 24, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    That second graphic has to be wrong otherwise the French no 5 was blatantly offside when the ball was crossed. I suspect the incompetent referee team put it together to try and restore their rightfully tarnished reputations.

  10. Afootieanado

    November 24, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I would have to support the additional referee in lieu of an instant replay system. A huge benefit of football is the constant flow of play that lasts 90 minutes and only goes to extra time for injuries.

    The other sports that have implemented instant replay are distinguishable because they have clear breaks in play during which the instant replay can be presented to the referees. Football has no such break in play, with the exception of the ball leaving the pitch. Allowing teams to challenge when the ball leaves play is untenable, as a challenge system would prevent teams from pressing the advantage as they brought the ball back in to play.


    November 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    We are still reffing in the dark ages. Also, they should give out more cards to control the game more effectively, and get rid of the diving actors – especially if they are oing to use cameras for viewpoints.

  12. iZy®

    November 24, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    even before manutd fell victim and lost to chelsea ;-(…i wanted to kno how many more must feel the wrath of injustice from refs…now look what it came to for fifa to consider it “a handball”….we live in and age of technology and the biggest game on the world doesnt have video replay used in it…that is like a bank vault not having security guards with the vault open to the public…

  13. nssf04

    November 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Didn’t finish my thought there, as I had too many parentheticals:

    “although I suppose the video official … would in some cases be able to notify the referree pretty quickly after, for example, an incorrect offsides call that ruled out a goal.”

  14. nssf04

    November 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I sometimes wonder if one reason for resistance to using video is that its most likely use would be to invalidate goals, rather than give teams credit for goals that have been scored but were not given by the referee. In most cases, the latter does not involve a stoppage in play that would allow the video evidence to be checked (although I suppose the video official — this person would have to be separate from those on the field, to avoid the stupid delays that the NFL has with the referee marching over to the sidelines (not to mention the inherene conflict of interest in the referee having to overrule himself or one of his colleagues — the same officials work as a crew most of the season); college gridiron has a separate replay official, and its replay stoppages are much shorter).

    I support more officials, for sure. What about putting the proposed official behind each net on a raised chair, like in tennis? I’m probably overlooking some practical reasons not to do it, but it would seem to give this official a better chance of policing both the penalty area and the goal-line calls.

    • ovalball

      November 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      “What about putting the proposed official behind each net on a raised chair, like in tennis? I’m probably overlooking some practical reasons not to do it…”

      You mean like Bellamy might actually aim for him? 😀

      • nssf04

        November 24, 2009 at 6:38 pm

        That idea did come to mind, although I didn’t think of Bellamy in particular. How did his name not come immediately to mind? : )

  15. F1Mikal

    November 24, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Combination of both. With more refs, make the human decision first and then a team can have an opportunity to challenge the call with video if they wish. It ain’t rocket science.

    BUT the 1st issue that FIFA has to change is this ongoing tone of ‘players’ vs. the referees (see your graphic above). There is already enough tension between the squads that having tension with the referees is not helpful.

    It should be the players AND the referees working together to put on the BESt show possible for the people, FIFA has figured it out before (eg; when the ref plays the advantage after a foul), got on with Paltini & Co. Do the fkn right thing.

  16. Soccer Wrap Up

    November 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Yes, of course video replay would be wonderful, but as long as Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini run the football world, video will never happen. I think that we should have two officials behind the net, like they are testing in the Europa League right now.

    An official behind the net would have seen the handball, and he could also shed light on dives in the box, and whether the ball went over the line or not.

    Great post, keep em coming!

  17. v

    November 24, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I just recently went to a NFL game (haven’t been to a live one in a few years), one thing you don’t notice on television is the fact that there are 7 (yes, 7) referees on the field. Considering the high pace of both american football and soccer, 7 is definitely a number that most people would be comfortable with, and to argue that there are 4 referees on the field for soccer is giving the fourth referee a lot of credit for standing there.

    Ideally there should be 7 on the field (+1 fourth referee) for soccer, 1 at each goal (2), 2 on each side of the pitch on both halves (4), and the man in the middle. That way more angles are covered.

    On top of that I believe limited and I mean very limited video replay should be allowed. First it would be only for calls made (aka a challenge, a goal can be challenged as the referee must deem it a good goal), not for plays that the referee did not make a call on. Second each team would have a limited number of challenges (2 per game), they would lose a challenge if they challenge a call that is correct or there is no conclusive visual evidence that the call was wrong. Third you can only challenge calls in relation to scored goals. penanlty calls, and red cards, nothing else can be challenged.

  18. ovalball

    November 24, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Get the extra refs on the field now. Then work out a limited video review system. It isn’t rocket science.

    As for slowing up the game, give me a break. What is that song and dance we go through every time there is a free kick 20-30 yards from the net? Defenders argue with ref. Defender grabs ball, walks away. Defender finally gives up ball. Defenders stand at spot of foul not having any idea how far ten yards is. Ref shoos them away. They move three feet. Ref walks off ten yards. Defenders move nine. Ref positions defenders at ten yards. Ref returns to his position. Ref whistles and ball is finally kicked. And that’s the *quick* version of that little scenario.

    There are plenty of stoppages in any match. A few more for limited video review will not alter the overall flow of the game. Watch some rugby.

    • Grant

      November 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

      I agree with that. Extra refs can be in place by South Africa, then from there on, work on a video system that can only be used on really important plays, and is only able to be called for by the referee, not by anyone else.

      So if the ref knows he didn’t see a huge decision well, like the picture above shows on the Henry hanball, he can call up to a video ref, just like he would as his ARs to weigh in on a fight that broke our or something similar.

  19. Melissa

    November 24, 2009 at 8:19 am

    I think video replay would be a great thing for the game if it came along with certain rules. Such as, only in the case of game/momentum changing events can it be used (controversial goal, red card, etc.) If there isn’t some strict regulation, we all know Fergie and others will be up demanding for a replay everytime they lose posession of the ball. maybe it can be like the NFL system where they throw a challenge flag, and they get 2 per game.

  20. Tyson

    November 24, 2009 at 6:37 am

    The camera system is a good one because then there can simply be no mistake. The rules in football are very clear.

    If you handball a ball no matter what your intentions are it still hit your hand and therefore you had an unfair advantage.

    Whenever you do anything in football whether it is by accident or on purpose is not relevant, what is relevant is that you gained an advantage or gave somebody a disadvantage by using something you are not allowed to use.

    If a goalkeeper is going for the ball but mistakedly gets the player instead that is a penalty because even though the goalkeeper may have been innocent he still used something he isn’t allowed to.

    With the type of rules in modern football being very clear with a camera system there would be no doubt.

    The problem is it becomes very difficult to manipulate results that way.

    If a referees decision is unreversable he takes a little flack for screwing up and then moves onto other matches but it’s well worth the flack because the money involved in modern day football is huge.

    France qualifying for the World Cup from a monetary perpsective is a huge thing as it gets a whole nation of people watching not to mention people are more likely to watch France than Ireland.

    The difference in ratings could be hundreds of millions or even billions in revenue depending on how long France stay in the World Cup so there is every reason to fix that match.

    Whenever big money is involved corruption always follows behind and as long as cameras are not used referees can be manipulated before the course of a match to get favourable results for the team that has to win.

    • oliver

      November 24, 2009 at 11:18 am

      “The camera system is a good one because then there can simply be no mistake. The rules in football are very clear.

      If you handball a ball no matter what your intentions are it still hit your hand and therefore you had an unfair advantage.”

      except thats not the rule for handball. Law 12 says it must be deliberate. The ball hitting your hand is not necessarily handball. The grey area is that there is now a directive (not a rule) saying that if the arm is in an unnatural position then it is automatically handball.

      Therefore, nearly *every* decision the referee has to make is a judgment call where he’s deciding intent.

    • Grant

      November 24, 2009 at 4:24 pm

      Yeah, you’re simply not correct, mate.

      Handballs that are incidental contact that don’t give you an advantage (like the ball bounces directly to your opponent) are not even a free kick.

      Handballs that are incidental that give you an advantage (like the ball drops right down onto your foot) are a free kick, but not a card.

      Handballs that are intentional are a yellow card.

      Handballs that prevent a direct goal scoring opportunity are a red card.

      Handballs that directly prevent a goal (like a handball on the line), whether intentional or not, are a red card as well.

  21. Paul Bestall

    November 24, 2009 at 6:17 am

    The argument that the game would stop too much is a non-starter. Most matches, the ball is in play for about an hour. How many times to protests go on for a minute, two minutes?
    Rugby League and NFL both have the correct system, a video judge who gets the feed from the broadcasters, checks it and then gives the judgement.
    30 seconds tops.

  22. Guilherme Lessa

    November 24, 2009 at 5:41 am

    I’d rather have more refs.

    No replays, please. The game would have to stop too much.

    And, as we all know, there are certain circumstances in which not even the camera is enough to suppress doubt.

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