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Sex, Lies and Videotape

By Mike Williams :  15/01/2008 :  Comments (21) :
There nothing that gets my goat more than seeing cheats win football games, especially when The People?s Club is on the receiving end. To be specific: Milan Baros?s handball that gave Villa a goal over us at a time when our confidence was low and ultimately gave them the win; and recently Eduardo?s handball that resulted in a goal and us conceding the game to Arsenal.

I appreciate referees and assistant referees can?t see everything and errors do occur but I personally would welcome anything that would improve the quality of referee?s judgements and reduce the number or impact of their errors. So, and perhaps I?m wearing my rose tinted glasses here, I raise the subject of using video evidence to mitigate these errors or act as a deterrent to footballers of questionable integrity.

From the arguments I have heard against the use of real time video evidence the main one appears to centre around the concern that it would interrupt the flow of the game. I expect this would be true. However, isn?t the real question: ?would it interrupt play by an unacceptable degree??. For me, I?d have happily sat in my seat for an extra ten minutes whilst the evidence was examined if I knew either of those two goals against us would have been disallowed and the offending players sent off.

Mind you, would it have been ten minutes? How long does it take the Beeb or Sky get footage from all those different camera angles, repeated in slow motion and zoomed-in for us to look at the incident? Seconds. How long would it take for the referee to make a decision? Less than a minute in the majority of cases. Certainly less than the time it takes him to calm the protestations of the players and restore continuity to the game. In fact, does it even have to be the referee on the pitch who examines the video evidence? It could be done ?behind the scenes? by other off-pitch referees and they merely inform the on-pitch referee of the decision he should enforce.

I would image that key to the success of this technology would be it?s judicious application, perhaps limited in use to a small number of significant cases, for example, when there was uncertainty about if the ball had crossed the goal line; a contentious sending off incident; or if a goal had been unjustly earned. Don?t get me wrong, I?m not saying it would be easy to define which, or even when, significant cases merited the use of this kind of examination but surely it offers a way forward to enforce fairer play?

Regardless, I have drifted from the original idea behind this post - I didn?t really intend to attempt to justify the use of real time video evidence. I really wanted to suggest a more pragmatic use of it: as an off line deterrent: after the game a panel of ?officials? review the video evidence surrounding the incident, such as the Eduaro handball. If the footage does not conclusively indicate a foul occurred then nothing is done. If it does, then a severe penalty is enforced, for example, the result is overturned and the player is banned for half a season.

Sure, there would be absolute outrage from managers, club owners, etc., the first few times such penalties were enforced - but what a deterrent and how quickly they would learn. If the player knew that his offence would always be thoroughly scrutinised and the penalty actually hurt player and club (as opposed to pathetic cash fines that hurt nobody) would he ever commit the crime?

Apologies for the lack of sex and lies.

Reader Comments

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Paul Coldock
1   Posted 16/01/2008 at 01:35:13

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I think we are coming closer and closer to the day video technololgy is introduced. For me it’s not a case of if, but when.

It will be vital that the people at the top get it right. Otherwise it will end up being more of a hinderance.

It’s a real shame about the sex and lies though.....!
Martin Cutler
2   Posted 16/01/2008 at 04:58:20

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Well, living here in the States as I do every now and then I attempt to watch American Snooze Football....please tell me that soccer will never be like American Football in terms of the number of time-outs, multiple referee’s, stoppages, video evidence, throwing the flag (whatever that’s about) and so on.......
I agree 100% that certain things can be done to improve on the situation we have with referees and dubious decisions etc. But where does one stop? Do we only do it for "did it cross the line" incidents, do we do it for disputed offsides, dangerous tackles, handball, or even decisions close on the penalty area line...that can be contentious too.
I would say the one thing we definitely need to do is have camera’s in or around the goal area so if the ball crosses the line it should count....that seems like a no-brainer to me. If it crosses the line it should be a goal....if you miss an offside that’s one thing but a goal scored should be a goal, end of.
I think the game as we know it could be ruined if there were too many stoppages.....after all one reason why the Prem IS the best is because it’s non-stop, fast and furious.....we don’t want or need numerous coffee-breaks....so please lets not go down that route.
As bad as some refs can be....it IS part and parcel of the game.....and when they screw up, just like coaches and players do, the pressure is on them all the more because of the high stakes/money involved.....that is not their fault. And as we have humans (with the exception of Clatterberk) for referee’s.....mistakes will always happen even with cameras.

To my mind...the biggest problem is consistency, or the lack of it.
I don’t see how video evidence would have helped us against The RS....for example the tackle on Neville...was a flying two-footed challenge, doesn’t matter if he connected or not, the intent was clearly there. Everybody saw what happened so why wasn’t it a straight red? You don’t need a camera for that!
Equally the foul on Lescott....the ref was right there, clear view....why didn’t he give a PK?
My point being that if the ref did his job you wouldn’t need a camera (and the stoppages to go with it).
Rob Jones
3   Posted 16/01/2008 at 08:26:30

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Half a season? Imagine the look on Gerrards face after a red card for six months, overall though good idea, but I think the ?top 4? would be a bit pissed off at not getting special treatment, so obviously it?s not gonna happen.
Dan Mckie
4   Posted 16/01/2008 at 09:12:46

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I dont see how it would work other than for things like crossing the goal-line, you mention Eduardo’s goal where it was handball, but the ref or linesman didnt see it so why would they watch a replay? Maybe because the crowd shout ’handball’? Football is great for its contentious moments and I dont want to get to the stage like american football where a match takes about 5 hours!
Amanda Huddleston
5   Posted 16/01/2008 at 10:17:03

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Be careful what you wish for.

With video replays Carsley would have got sent off last week not just a yellow - and I am sure there are other occasions where we have been ?lucky? not just unlucky!
Kev Clark
6   Posted 16/01/2008 at 10:24:02

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Amanda, Bolton, a few seasons ago, springs to mind.....
Jack Calvert
7   Posted 16/01/2008 at 10:25:30

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In cricket, a sport that always tries to give technology importance, there was recently an agreement in the test series between Aus and India to move away from this and trust the integrity of a fielder when it came to a controversial catch. The result? India abided by this in the spirit of the game and Australia simply cheated. This helped cause the rest of the fall out and the umpires and captains have gone back to using the technology.

The point?

All sportsmen are cheats, trying to bend and manipulate the rules. Technology exposes them and allows the game, if at worst a little slower, but most importantly, to be palyed fairer and there would never be cause for complaint and bitterness leading to further unsavoury comments.
Ray Roche
8   Posted 16/01/2008 at 12:15:31

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Kev Clarke

Bolton? Video evidence would show the blatant foul on Southall.
Brian Egan
9   Posted 16/01/2008 at 12:11:26

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There is a myth surrounding technology in other sports. When this debate opens up we hear how technology is used in rugby and cricket. Technology is not used in all rugby and cricket matches, its used in televised matches. This creates different rules for sport shown on television and games which are not televised. Do we really want a situation where sky sports has even more control over football. I certainly dont. Keep it how it is, if a referee or linesman dont see a ball cross the line its tough on the team involved but these decisions generally even themselves out over the course of the season.
Tony Williams
10   Posted 16/01/2008 at 12:40:59

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Hear, Hear Brian.

I have had this discussion on another forum and that was the general feeling also. We simply cannot let Sky get its sticky little paws further on the "beautiful" game.

Open for the "Sky 4" corruption, It wouldn’t happen but it could. The point being I and it seems many others would not want Sky’s influence in the game to grow even further than it already has.
Graham Nolan
11   Posted 16/01/2008 at 12:41:19

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I for one would not like to see video evidence introduced for any instance.
I like the fact that there can be wrong decisions during a game. It gives us more to talk about afterwards.
If we go down the route that video evidence will take us it will take some of the human element (human error) and controversy out of the game. I don’t want every game to have perfect decisions all of the time; I enjoy footballs imperfections.
Just think, we will have one less person (the ref) to shout abuse at during a match.
a lot of people say that these things even themselves out over a season, that may or may not be true but what is true is that some decisions will go our way and others won’t. Remember our 1st match of last season against Watford, we were awarded a peno that never was, only for that we could have drawn against a very poor Watford side.
Embrace footballs imperfections, and as for referees, the saying, you can’t polish a turd springs to mind.
John Maxwell
12   Posted 16/01/2008 at 12:55:21

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It all evens out.

Lescotts goal last weekend was offside.. We dont moan about that do we...
Lee Spargo
13   Posted 16/01/2008 at 13:02:09

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Video evidence is used in most other top sports in the world. It follows therefore, that it should be used in the world’s most popular sport - football (or soccer for the Yanks). However, there has to be a limit to it’s use, as in all the other sports where it is used, and certain decisions should be left to the discretion of the referee, otherwise the game will be ruined. I thik it shold only be used in the followinf circumstances;

1 - Goal Line - has the ball crossed the line and is it therefore a goal?

2 - Penalty decisions. Is it a penalty? Did the player dive? If it is a dive he should be booked/sent off and hopefully that would discourage cheats.

3 - Acts of violent conduct - after the game, if it’s shown that a player has purposefully elbowed/punched/stamped on another player then he shoul;d be banned for x amount of games.
Ray Roche
14   Posted 16/01/2008 at 12:59:11

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The thing that irritates me most about video evidence is the way the FA are so selective about when they use it.If a referee calls a foul as a yellow, like the Kuyt assault on Neville, because he has seen it that way, the FA doesn?t interfere,despite the fact that everyone knows he?s made a mistake and the FA doesn?t want to show the referee up. A player can "get away" with an elbow in someones face during the match if the referee doesn?t see it or decides that it was not intentional, however, if Sky Sports pundits show it from all angles and it IS a bad foul, the FA will use it to ban the player. So the referee has made a mistake, Sky Sports pick up on it, and the player is banned. Why not ban the likes of Kuyt for a dangerous tackle which deserved a red card but because the idiot in charge, for whatever reason, called it yellow Kuyt is unpunished? And does anyone remember Shearer stamping on a player as he lay on the ground? All the world and his dog knew it was intentional but the FA cleared the England captain of any blame. Consistency on and off the pitch are what people want and should get.
Martin Cutler
15   Posted 16/01/2008 at 14:34:08

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John Maxwell....Lescott’s goal was not offside.
It was close......but the linesman was right in line with him and I think the Man City player positioned towards the corner flag kept him onside, plus Lescott ran in to take the touch on the ball as opposed to being just stood there waiting for it.
The TV commentators said he was played onside (presumably as I described above).
Jay Harris
16   Posted 16/01/2008 at 15:13:11

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I personally like the American football rule which allows each coach to challenge up to 2 decisions.
We would end up with a shedload of penalties and Gerrard would get red cards every week!!!
Seamus Murphy
17   Posted 16/01/2008 at 15:33:06

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Lescott?s goal wasn't offside ? the left back played him on, it was just that there wasn't a decent camera angle to show it but he was definitely onside. Have a look at it again on evertontv.
Chad Schofield
18   Posted 16/01/2008 at 18:29:22

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Best article anywhere I’ve read on the subject.
http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,2005741,00.html
Ben Dyson
19   Posted 16/01/2008 at 22:11:48

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A couple of weeks ago, Reading scored a controversial winner against Sunderland. A case of did the ball cross the line or not. On Match of the day Alan ?Elbows? Shearer proudly presented a nice little computer graphic produced by this wonderful modern technology showing that the ball clearly had NOT crossed the line. The next day on Goals on Sunday they proudly presented a nice little computer graphic produced by this wonderful modern technology showing that the ball clearly had crossed the line. Make of that what you will?.
Tony Lamb
20   Posted 16/01/2008 at 22:42:20

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Thanks to Mike for raising these issues for discussion. With regard to the issue of interrupting the flow of the game etc it is interesting to note just how much the so called "flow of the game" is actually interrupted at present. On average somewhere in the region of at least 20 minutes per game are already lost by the ball being out of play. The point about determining whether or not the ball actually crosses the line would appear to be a "fairly important" element of a football match seeing as the whole point of the game is to make it happen or to prevent it from happening and as such makes it the most important decision a referee is called upon to make! Therefore with the sophisticated technology available this should surely be used to determine this at all costs and if rugby can determine a try in seconds when five or six huge guys are on top of the ball surely it is possible for a fourth official to judge this in soccer.It seems odd does it not that every Tom, Dick and Harry has access to the technology in order to "voice their opinion" but the man with THE decision to make is DENIED it! I think so many of the other points raised here have to be left to the discretion of referees but they and their "so called-assistants" should certainly be required to come before the public and justify their most contentious decisions just to reinforce the fact that they ARE accountable to more than just the FA. A further point however, that I feel needs urgent attention is the ludicrous penalty box pulling and shoving at free-kicks and corners. Surely there is now need for "penalty box" referees/assistants whose sole purpose is to assess this, for at present if anything brings the game, players, officials, authorities, the rules, ethics etc into total disrepute it is the lamentable state of affairs in this area at present? A further point I would like to raise is the possibility of referees being wired up to facilitate some form of communication with the paying spectators as to decisions that are made. It may also help curb some of the obscene verbals directed at them by players which is doing nothing to maintain the referee’s authority and status in the game.We must keep in mind however, that in most cases every time the officials go onto the field they know that 22 players and their managers (with the slight encouragement of some 50000 "very objective people"!) are invariably trying to cheat and con their way to any advantage or that the competencies of their masters, the so-called "powers that be" at FIFA and our own beloved FA are utterly beyond words - if not contempt?
Gerry Morrison
21   Posted 17/01/2008 at 00:37:15

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One way to limit the amount of disruption, and discourage overuse of the video evidence, would be to limit the amount of times per game that a team, through their manager communicating with the fourth official, could disput a decision. Once you have used up your quota, (one? two? per game), then that’s it.

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