More Referee Support?

Recently, I watched Japan host the United Arab Emirates in a World Cup Qualifier. The statistics showed that UAE won the game 2-1. However, in reality, the game should have ended 2-2, because Japan scored a perfectly good equaliser that wasn’t given by the officials because they didn’t see the ball cross the line. Well, I saw the ball cross the line. Thousands of fans saw the ball cross the line. It wasn’t even close to not crossing the line, to be honest – it was easily a yard over the line before the goalkeeper pushed it away – so the officials getting that one wrong was quite embarrassing.

FIFA boss Infantino has since announced that they trialled some kind of video assistance for the referee for a friendly between France and Italy. In that game, there was a difficult decision to make with an alleged handball against Daniele De Rossi in the box. The decision was referred to the video assistants, who ruled that it was not handball, and thus the game resumed two to three seconds later. I like the idea of the referees having more support. After all, they’re not infallible, as the Japanese game mentioned above clearly indicated, so the more help, the better, as far as I am concerned.

I can’t really understand the ex-pros that state that the game needs a certain amount of imperfection and that slowing it down to make decisions would ruin the game. Rubbish! The game is slowed down every time there’s a free-kick awarded by players protesting, even if they don’t know what they’re protesting against, as they’re often doing it to prevent the free-kick from being taken quickly, so why would a couple of seconds make any difference? There’d be a minor period of adjustment involved, and then everybody would be fine with it, and life would go on.

I don’t think there’ll ever be a “perfectly refereed” game, to be frank. There’s only so much that can be done, after all, and I’m ok with that. However, there’s so much more that can be done to aid officials, and that really needs to happen sooner rather than later to prevent more mistakes like the above happening. Just imagine if that goal being ruled out costs Japan a place in the World Cup finals! It’s simply not acceptable, really, so I am glad to see that FIFA are trying to do something useful, for a change.

Now, my question to you all is what rules would you like to see brought in, assuming referees had more assistance? Or what rules would you like to see followed more stringently?

I think what bugs me the most are cynical fouls, shirt-pulling, and simulation. To me, all three of those offences are worthy of red cards. It’s not so easy to nail someone for simulation, even with refereeing assistance, so I can understand that one being hard to bring into force. However, some simulation is very obvious, and I’m not just talking about the ones that are playing for free-kicks or penalties, as I see plenty of exaggerated injuries etc. to waste time too, both of which should be punishable.

As far as shirt-pulling and cynical fouls go, though, they are very easy to spot, and should be even easier to punish; red card! We’ve all become accustomed to shirt-pulling because it’s always been part of the game, but what about that is an attempt to play the ball? Nothing. It’s cheating; blatantly unacceptable cheating. Again, I appreciate that some cases are harder to spot than others (e.g. from corners) but when a player is breaking away on a counter-attack and is pulled back by an opponent to simply prevent the attack, then that should be a red card, in my view. The player has made no attempt to play the ball, and thus is cheating. The player knows he will only get a yellow card, so it’s worth doing to them. The same can be said for little trips or kicks to prevent breaks. Given that they’re not trying to play the ball, the latter is actually a lesser form of assault, and yet the FA seem to think that a yellow card is sufficient for blatant cheating. If anyone can explain to me why players that do the above shouldn’t get sent off, then I’d love to hear why, because it doesn’t make any sense to me.

Let me know what your gripes with refereeing are below!

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