Ways in which video technology could work for football

Posted on January 26, 2012 by

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As James Richardson so eloquently put it in the latest episode of football weekly; “Football’s USP is that it is a fluid game, it is a game in which there is a spontaneity that is a direct result of the fact that is continually in motion”. He was talking in the context of penalties, and to the bemusement of his fellow podcasters, his dislike for them.

He’s right though, about football; that is why we love it. And it got me thinking about video technology, considering Richardson’s surmise of footballs appeal is a key component of the argument against such technology being used in football.

Despite the pulsating nature of the latest edition of ‘El Clasico’, there were those who couldn’t see past Busquets’ gamesmanship, and Pepe’s absurd play acting. And it’s strange, isn’t it, how players can indulge in that sort of behaviour, whilst being hugely aware that millions are watching them, knowing that their actions are on camera to be scrutinised and penalised long after the referee blows the final whistle.

Balotelli shows concern for Parker wellbeing after appearing to stamp on his face.

Balotelli’s stamp on ‘Scotty’ Parker’s head hasn’t reignited the call for Video Technology in football, but it should have. Many experts have admitted that the technology exists to eliminate the human error when making offside and goal decisions, but there is a wider use for video technology in football and that’s for violence, both physical and verbal. And recent high profile racism cases vindicate that.

But for all the logic in using video technology, there are those who argue against it. They argue it would spoil the pace of the game; they argue that contentious decisions are part of the game, part of the appeal. Are they legitimate arguments though? Especially when we’re talking about the hopes and dreams of a nation?

Here are ways in which video technology could be implemented in the game, including some answers to questions that have been posed about its functionality.

Reduce the on pitch referee’s responsibilities, giving a 4th referee direct authority for major decisions.

The speed in which two people can communicate with technology today is astounding. This means there’s no reason to have a referee on the pitch, making the huge decisions that decide football matches. For things like offsides, ‘over the line’ questions and off the ball incidents, a referee watching the game on multiple screens would be able to communicate with an on pitch official to penalise the offence and give or disallow a goal. This would be particularly useful for incidents like Balotelli’s stamp and diving, and would ensure fairness in decisions without slowing down the game.

The Europa League was used as a tester for extra officials, why can’t the Premier League be used as a tester for Video Technology?

One of the arguments against the use of video technology is that it would be difficult to implement on all levels. Well, that’s ultimately true. But it’s also true to say that the level of refereeing is supposed to be higher at top level football, isn’t it? World Cup final ref Howard Webb won’t be refereeing League Two matches any time soon. The level of risk and reward is also not consistent throughout the leagues, so there’s no reason why the top leagues can’t adopt a video system and let it dribble through the league system as and when it’s applicable and achievable.

The three contest rule

Suggested by many experts and journalists, the three contest rule would negate constant appeals from players and managers and maintain the fluidity that makes football aesthetically pleasing. This wouldn’t be able to run in conjunction with an off pitch official as previously suggested, but does alleviate the fears of the constant stoppages that video technology could bring.

It’s becoming clear to many that video technology is vital to the game given the sheer amount of money involved. It would also be valuable on a cultural level, as immediate punishment for a stamp or kick makes a much clearer message to the younger generation than a tribunal or hearing held days after the game and reported in papers that 13-year-olds don’t read.

It seems that the fiery tension that burns inside players like Balotelli is sometimes untameable by an inevitable punishment. He’s going to do what he wants, when he wants. And if players like Balotelli won’t adapt, then we have to.

I’d like your opinion on this, so please leave a comment below.

Jack de Aguilar.

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Posted in: Football