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Luis Suarez Penalty Incident Shows that Video Replay Technology May Not Help After All

One of the more interesting aspects of the Liverpool-Aston Villa penalty incident was that the TV video replay footage was inconclusive whether it should have been a penalty or not. Even after watching the replays multiple times, some pundits said it was a penalty while others said it was not.

The bottom line is that if video technology is ever implemented to help referees with tough decisions like this one, there’s no guarantee that the video replays are going to help the fourth official or ‘video review referee’ make a correct decision 100% of the time. Sometimes the calls are going to be too close to call, and even with the best video technology available, the cameras are not going to be able to show everything. They won’t show intent, and they’ll have a very difficult time determining whether slight contact was made or not.

In addition to that, as we saw Saturday, it’s quite possible that the review process could take a few minutes to reach a final decision.

Video technology would help referees make better informed decisions, but there’s no guarantee that the decision would be correct. Plus, it could cause a significant delay in the game if and when similar too-close-to-call incidents happen again like the collision between Luis Suarez-Brad Guzan.

Soccer fans and pundits demanding that video technology be added to the game to help referees with offside and penalty decisions, as well as other key incidents that they may miss, should take a long hard look at the Suarez-Guzan incident. Video technology may not be the perfect, easy solution we envisioned after all.

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  1. Stephen

    January 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Now come on. Who is this “we” that envisioned video technology would be a perfect, easy solution?

    You’ve been drinking in the wrong pubs.

  2. LisaRheese

    January 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

    The obvious answer to the prospects of having replays delay a game is to institute a challenge system as exist in Tennis and in the NFL. This means that there would be a limited number of situations (the most problematic) where a coach would ask for a replay. By limiting challenges to 2 or 3 per team per match, the problem is addressed. This is just common sense.

    I agree you are putting up straw man arguments just to knock them down. Football behaves like a neanderthal in not embracing obvious, needed changes like video replay and having people like the author always nay saying and resisting progress.

  3. Abir

    January 20, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Agree with Che Mark. Video technology is meant to eradicate obvious errors. Apart from NFL we can learn from how they use it in rugby and cricket for 50-50 decisions it is the referees call. Fans may moan about these decisions but they know it is part of the game. It is the clear mistakes that make us feel wronged

  4. Che Mark

    January 20, 2014 at 12:42 am

    I think everyone already understands that video replay would not be 100% perfect. Nothing ever will be. But look at the NFL. They do it very well. If it is clear the ref made the wrong call, the call is reversed. If it is not “irrefutable” (I think that’s the term they use), the call stands.

    I’m not saying I think video replay is the way to go for soccer, but let’s not present straw-man arguments here. There is no need to “take a long hard look” at a single incident. Don’t pretend anyone advocating replay is claiming this would be “perfect”. Everyone knows it wouldn’t be 100%, but it would be a higher percent than we currently have.

    I can make a straw-man argument, too, watch: Since video replay is not perfect, we should not use it. Likewise, since human referees are not perfect, we should not use them. I guess it’s the honor system now…

    • Che Mark

      January 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

      As for replay technology causing delays in the game, that is a valid concern.

      Some would contend that more time could be spent reviewing calls, and less time could be spent setting up a free kick, throwing a ball in, taking a goal kick, getting and keeping a wall 10 yards away, etc. In other words, there are plenty of delays in the game already that could easily be addressed if anyone wanted to.

      There are lots of little tweaks that could help the game be so so so much more enjoyable. (And, yes, I understand that million around the world are fine with it the way it is.)

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