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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Is the call needed ever more so for video replays??

During the Arsenal v Bolton game, Jose Antonio Reyes went down in the box after Tal Ben Haim came in with a tackle. A penalty appeal was denied, replays showed Reyes had dived or made more of the tackle than it actually was. Replays also showed Ben Haim hadn't touched Reyes. The official didn't book Reyes.

Abdoulaye Faye came in later on with an unbelievably reckless two-footed lunge on Reyes, catching the ball and then the Spaniard, presumably on the foot. Reyes is suspected of having a broken leg but nothing has yet been confirmed, I suspect it could be a stress fracture, a broken metatarsal or severe bruising needing maybe a fortnight's rest. After that, Mathieu Flamini lost control of the ball and then ran on to desperately make amends for it, lunging in with a two-footed tackle that was worse than Faye's, but not much. Faye was booked for his, Flamini, for some bewildering reason, escaped any caution.

Jens Lehmann came out of goal to deal with the ball and then noticed Kevin Davies closing him down, waited for the tackle to come in, jumped in the air and came down rolling over as if hurt by the tackle, only to took up at the referee, seeing that the decision had gone against Arsenal and then recovered instantly to run back towards his goal. This was picked up on replay.

In the Middlesbrough v Chelsea game, when Fabio Rochemback challenged Michael Essien from behind, Rochemback got a touch on the ball, Essien had gone down and rolled as if hit badly by Rochemback, looked up to see play continuing and then got up quickly, but by then Rochemback went on to score.

It's obviously not exclusive to these teams, certainly prevalent throughout the league. The issue of players potentially feigning the impact of a tackle or contact put on them by another has arisen again from the Arjen Robben - Pepe Reina incident last week. Condemnation of players feigning such contact has been made, calls said for the FA to add on it but I sense this issue will fizzle away without so much as a grunt from the FA in response. We all agree it should not be happening in the game, and can only account for our own league, so saying it is OK beyond the realms of the Premiership and the respective football associations haven't done anything about it is not relevant. When a player gains an advantage through feigning, that's unfair. The competitiveness of the game ensures that effort and guile makes more for a team than dishonour.

Rafael Benitez is stated in the Mail on Sunday "Every team decides how they want to win. I like to win playing well and within the rules. Some teams like to win at any cost. I have told my players to stay on their feet. I don't like to see them diving."

Then there is the current offside rule. It isn't an offence to be in an offside position, where an attacking player is between the last defending outfield player nearest the defending goal and the keeper in that goal. We know an attacking player needs to be level with that last defending outfield player, in that outfield player's half, when the ball is passed, to avoid violating the law. Even then, that attacking player has to be, at the time the ball is played, otherwise involved actively by either interfering with play, an opponent or gaining an advantage from an offside position. Yet the linesmen flag instantly when a ball is played and a player moves. Having not interfered with play nor an opponent, the attacking player is therefore gaining an advantage, which I disagree with since he has not attained the ball.

If the attacking player stays in an offside position, the ball is played to him and passes him, the defending players decide not to react as he cannot touch the ball, and the attacking player's team-mate run up unnoticed and collect the goal towards goal, then the first attacking player in that offside position has gained an advantage. Do we then need to establish whether that advantage has to be for the attacking player or for another? I would say no, its irrelevant, any advantage gained is for the team, and that makes for an offside decision.

Interfering with an opponent, obviously a defending one in the circumstance, is one situation that either belongs with interfering with play or gaining an advantage. Being in an offside position, the attacking player could then outmuscle a defending opponent (therefore potentially interfering with play) for his advantage or the advantage of another (gaining an advantage).

There had been a few offside decisions over the weekend in the Premiership that were found to be incorrect, upon reflection of the law. Linesmen flag before the ball is being touched, the ball going away from an offside player and instead being controlled by another who is onside. Today in the Sunderland v Spurs match in the 2nd half, Kevin Kyle was in an offside position and the pass went over him, the ball touched by no one other than Julio Arca, yet offside was given. In the West Ham v Sunderland game, Marlon Harewood was on the right and was onside when passed to, replays showed it clear enough to be picked up at pitchside, yet he was given offside. Despite the change in the law, officials are not getting their decisions as accurately as they should do.

Pulling of shirts in the box during corners, freekicks, handball offences said to occur when the ball travels to hand, regardless of the lack of intention, when in fact the law should distinguish between deliberate handball and ball-to-hand, and maybe introduce a strict liability element where a defending player drops down doing a tackle, misses the ball and then the flailing arm comes across as if a natural response of the body going down. Given the above circumstances in the game, while I am not an avid fan of the idea, video replays instantly reviewed after an incident could help clear up any doubt as to fouls, handballs, shirt pulling, offsides or any other dubious decisions that the main official is in doubt about. It is not a favourable call for such incidents to continue and the FA should step in as administrative authority to put measures in place to reduce such incidents occurring without adjudication at the time.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear RedsMan,

Firstly thank you for raising a topic that holds as much relevance to the future of football as how to conduct the financial state of football and regain a (relatively) level playing field.

At this stage I will offer my utmost respect for Rafa Benitez on his simple, yet admirable philosophy of playing football within a set of rules and more importantly playing with integrity.

Clearly the Robben incident, combined with a number of previous incidents points heavily towards a conclusion that yes, Chelsea will do ANYTHING for a win. And unfortunately, even neutral football fans are turned off by this Result fetish. Someone has to take a stance and change the fashion that "the end justifies the means". No, it does not. Chelsea's victories, despite their rosunding efficiency, are not held anywhere near the same regard as the Liverpool of the eighties, The Man U of the nineties, and the Arsenal "invincibles". It's a shame and it is not just ruining the competitive fairness, but is making the league entirely "unwatchable". Simply despicable, and I for one would not mind just handing over the "title" to Chelsea and let them get off our backs with their "style" because, I for one, as I am sure most fans, do not care about your so called wins, we care about football. And, what Chelsea as an organisation are pursuing is efficiency and results - not football.

With regards to the unbeliavably unseeming tendencies of faking, time wasting and other easily avoidable trends, these should be eradicated with severe ruthlessness. Faking injuries should be a bookable offence. Time wasting - bookable. That is not football. Take the tempo off a game on the pitch, not off it.

Wenger was right, that is not what people pay to see. And, I am utterly dissapointed that referees continue to allow these regreatble instances to go on unpunished.

With regards to video replay, we cannot get it fast enough. There are no more excuses. It has worked elsewhere. And it has removed exactly those unfair circumstances, thar ARE easily avoidable. But the FA in all their conservative "glory" are not really into solving problems as much as they are about justifying their own position. Bureacracy at its absolute worst.

As a football supporter, I am in despair. What used to make the Premier League and British football so special, was the integrity and respect for the game. A respect that is non existant in southern leagues, and in particular Italy. Where watching football is suicidal for people who believe in right and wrong. The levels of hypocricy, faking, cheating and generally being obnoxious, are astounding.

I demand something is done, so that we do not find ourselves watching Serie A "style" games in the UK.

Please FA, act!...for once.

With admiration and concern, for the sake of football.

Gus J.

2/13/2006 10:23 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thank you, Gus J, I share your concern. This article may be of interest for all on the issue here:,,27-2029982,00.html

I think you have a point in saying Chelsea are chasing efficiency and results, for those qualities mean progress in the league and potentially the title. It's success that concern Mourinho more so than stylish football, and it could be argued that Chelsea do not necessarily play stylish football, why possibly they are not getting the respect they deserve, but instead hold possession much faster and more skillful than the opposition do, and from then create their chances.

The question is would I prefer Liverpool to gain wins, in any way whatsoever, illegal and/or unfairly, and progress up the table and win the title, or would I prefer Liverpool to play excellent football, close chances, near misses, great tackling, defending, great saves, and eventually scoring goals and winning games, in that way? The answer is the latter. The next question is would I be happy for Liverpool to lose games playing like that, and my answer would be yes. I'm concerned, as Gus J and Benitez are, that teams play within the rules, play fairly. I'm not expecting for a player to own up and say 'I handled in the area' to the referee. But I expect that when faced with a situation like when Arsenal's Reyes touched Blackburn's Savage on the cheek with his hand, not to see Savage drop to the ground with hands on his face, looking sneakily at the referee to see if Reyes is in trouble. That's deplorable. As long as my team give geniune effort, I hope for the win and may have to acceptable a draw or loss.

You mentioned Serie A, I've seen some horrendous actions of players in La Liga where they have been caught in the run of play and collapse as if shot. So embarassing, and even worse when the referee gives the decision of freekick. Having happened the once and is seen to fool the official it became a pandemic, and I wonder if the referee actually notices anything and carries on or sees nothing other than a good tackle.

Phil Dowd was excellent when he noticed Muzzy Izzet drop in the box and sent him off with a second caution in the Spurs v Birmingham match this season. In contrast, Mike Riley failed to penalise when Wayne Rooney dived from Sol Campbell's challenge at Old Trafford 2004-2005. We shouldn't have to rely on a particular official officiating to give out confidence that feigning will be spotted and acted on. I also despair on how the game is developing with these occurrences. I fear that feigning is becoming second nature to some players that they may not be able to play the same or better without it.

People must compare. Consider when you are hit by an opponent with a tackle that brings you down, it has to be of such a kind to bring you down. You have to get over it quickly, someone comes on with a bucket and sponge like it was holy water, douses the area, a few encouraging words and you are on your feet, or otherwise substituted. In the Premiership, one is tackled (or in a number of cases NOT), and a player goes down, clutching the shin, rolling to depict agony from the contact. At the least it's a freekick, at worst the tackling player is spoken to and possibly noted for any further fouls or is cautioned and possibly sent off. That, stemming from a tackle that made no contact, or made contact which a Sunday league player would call a scratch, that a Premiership player calls a career-threatening hack.

As officials meet so often to discuss the laws of the game and other points of views on officiation, they should focus on how they can interpret feigning from geniune, in the same way our legal judges are left to interpret the statutes from Parliament. Feigning is unsporting behaviour. I too implore for the FA to act, actually put something into practice as quickly as they aim to appease the English fans over Eriksson and his successor.

And yet, in saying that, there is a similarity between our Parliament and the FA. Both institutions cannot make laws to cover serious concerning matters, that obviously matter to the public, yet when they have an issue of concern to themselves, they can pass laws quicker than the speed of light.


2/13/2006 12:53 pm

Blogger BlindJak said...

The main problem affecting referees and the decisions they make is that the rules have changed in terms of what is deemed as an acceptable tackle and what is not. Football today is barely a contact sport at all with just about any contact being considered a foul.

I do not wish for a return to some of the ‘agricultural’ tackles we saw in the 70’s from the likes of ‘Chopper’ Harris and Norman Hunter but we have gone too far the other way.

Tackles need to be perfectly timed and the ball won or it’s a foul. Considering the pace of the game has become faster than ever it’s strange that the margin for error in making a tackle has diminished. Of all many yellow card you see a season how many are from genuinely dirty, cynical or dangerous tackles?

Just look at the protection keepers get these days. All they have to do in a crowded penalty area is jump into one of the opposing players (accidentally or otherwise) and 9 times out of 10 they will get a free kick.

So with so much leeway being given to the player with the ball is it any surprise the more cynical play the system for all they can? If tackles were allowed there would be less opportunity to act and I don’t believe it would happen so often.

However we also have to recognise that not all the rules are set by the FA with FIFA having jurisdiction over many of the rules our refs implement. For example their edict that players celebrating by leaving the pitch should be booked which saw Robben sent off last month. So even if refs wished to book a player, or let a tackle go, they have their hands tied.

I also read a article a while back where a ref explained that by booking a player for diving you are publicly accusing them of cheating so you need to be 100% sure that there was intent to deceive. So with the game going at 100 mph it’s easy to see where they err of the side of caution.

Saying that I’m not in favour of video replays during matches as it would slow it down immensely and would be another tool which can be manipulated by teams to slow the pace of a match or disrupt the rhythm of the opposition.

As I’ve advocated before I would rather see a video panel that sat in judgement after matches and reviewed all the games and handed out bookings accordingly.

2/13/2006 2:38 pm

Blogger EL said...

Surely the days must be numbered for a system in which during football matches millions of people all around the country/europe/world can see a replay of a situation within seconds and be sure (a majority of the time) what actually took place, yet the only person who isn't allowed to see the evidence is the one person in the world who's job it is to make a judgement on it. Am I the only person around who thinks this continuing and worsening nonsense has got to stop? I appreciate all the arguments for keeping the game 'pure' but surely it's too late for a puritan view on all this since the purity of the visual experience went out the window as soon as cameras and tv got involved. Long gone are the days when if a ref cocked up nobody knew any different bar a few players and even if they did there was no record of the incident so it didn't much matter after the event. I'm fed up seeing games decided or guided by misjudged decisions and the sooner technology is cautiously and cleverly brought into the game the better.

2/13/2006 6:28 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I side with el's conclusion, while I dislike having the game stalled for adminstrative arbitary reasons, I urge for a cleaner and more fairer system that distinguishes clearly, and on the spot, between geniune conduct and fabrication.


2/14/2006 1:28 pm

Blogger BlindJak said...

I agree something needs to be done but there are as many pitfalls it will create as solve. Answering the question of the ball crossing the line for instance. Where does the game stop? For example, what if when Gallas cleared the ball in the CL semi last year, what would have happened if that clearance had fallen to a blue shirt and an attack had started? Should the team in possession be denied a goal scoring opportunity if the ball didn’t cross the line? What about if it fell it Liverpool? You can’t stop them from trying to make sure it crosses the line on a second occasion.

So play advantage and wait for a break in play? What of Chelsea got possession, go strait up the other end and scores? If the Liverpool incident is then adjudged to have crossed the line should the goal stand? It probably wouldn’t have been scored if the game had to restart and the defence had a chance to set itself.

And that’s just for goal line incidents. Add in looking at fouls, penalties etc, etc and there are so many problems it becomes untenable. Which is why I would advocate retrospective action and games to be reviewed?

2/14/2006 2:09 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

With reference to the Garcia goal in the CL semi-final with Chelsea, it's arguable that were it not for the goal given, a penalty may have been instead for when Cech made contact with Baros. Otherwise, if the ref saw nothing in either incident, then play continues. I may have mentioned it before that where the main official is in doubt, even after consulting the linesmen, then advice could be taken from replay sources, perhaps via their earpiece.

If there is credence in any incident, the moment ball goes out of play, then the referee can take action and, again with reference to the Liverpool-Chelsea semi final for example, either the goal is given and the game restarts from the centre spot or a penalty is given. Even typing that out makes me slightly uncomfortable with the idea but I feel it is what we will have to do to reduce the incidents complained about that could unfairly swing games.


2/15/2006 5:12 am

Blogger T said...

Quality discussion guys.

Gus J, EL, and Redsman have put forward the case for video replays in a really persuasive way.

But I also share Blindjak's concern that the fluency of the game will suffer as a result.

A compromise that appeals to me is that video replays should be available DURING games for matters of fact; i.e. has the ball crossed the line; was the player offside.

And alognside this - as Blindjak has called for - I would use video replays AFTER games with a view to handing out retropective punishments for matters of opinion like feigning injury, diving, and general cheating. For this to work fairly, there must be a named and skilled video referee attending every match who will log every incident that he feels is worthy of review.

Hopefully the deterrent effect of this system would help restore the integrity and respect that commentators like Gus S feels is deserting the game.

Redsman, the cynical gameplay of la liga players is something that is deplorable and indeed something I expect when watching their football. Benitez made a nice soundbite, but I remember when Arsenal played his Valencia team that their players constantly disrupted the game horribly with the 'la liga' trademark of writhing around on the ground for a minute after receiving an innocuous challenge. It was very frustrating to watch!

2/15/2006 11:58 am

Blogger Abdul said...

T you say that video replays should be available during games for matters of fact; i.e. has the ball crossed the line; was the player offside. But are these matters of fact?

No matter how many times you look at replays sometimes you are still none the wiser - eg was the russian linesman right or wrong in 1966? Offside decisons can and do frequently also lead to divided opinion.

Controversy is part of the magic of football. Yes wrong decisons can lead to miscarriages of (football) justice - but that is why football is such a great sport to discuss/argue over and follow. It is why forums such as elitefootballtalk exist.

Call me an old man (I'm not by the way), but I want only retrospective video trial for things like diving and bad tackles (even those seen by the ref but not, in the eyes of the FA, dealt with properly).

2/15/2006 1:44 pm

Blogger EL said...

My understanding of the technology being tested for 'over the line' incidents is that they want the ball tagged and infra-red or somesuch system across the goal line so the ref hears a beep immediately the ball crosses the beams.

Sounds pretty surefire to me.

2/15/2006 5:31 pm

Blogger T said...

Yep, I can confirm that Abdul is not an old man despite giving the impression that he is unaware of technology moving on since 1966! :)

EL has beaten me to make the point that 21st century technology should make over-the-line incidents a matter of fact. It is on this basis that I feel the time is right to consider the introduction of video replays during play.

2/15/2006 6:57 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

The infra-red system potential sounds a good step in the right direction. I feel for the flow of the game and here I wish to leave matters to the referee's discretion, rightly or wrongly. But yet the sense of one side achieving through a decision that shouldn't have, or an indecision that should have been, bothers me why I call for something of a replaying standard at the time to be introduced. Penalising for bad tackles, innocuous contacts, contacts not captured or seen, retrospectively is suitable. The decision over vital issues, like the goal in the CL semi-final, is one I would prefer cleared up on the spot.

I wish to add that in such a circumstance like the CL semi-final goal, or even against Liverpool where Darren Bent was said to have dived recently, these incidents occurred early in the game where there is enough time for the 'aggrieved' side (for want of a better word) to attack and score back. Would that make a difference? Would a referee only have powers to inquire on a replay analysis where such incidents happen within the final 15mins of a game, or is it irrespective when these incidents occur?


2/15/2006 9:05 pm

Blogger EL said...

Although the 'how's & when' questions are difficult to answer at this stage and would take a great deal of testing to sort out, I've always assumed that there would have to be a 4th (or 5th?) referee on monitor watch throughout matches who would relay information to the on field ref as a means of keeping the game as fluent as possible. The awkward bit being; does the ref blow when he thinks there's been an unlawful incident and then ask the monitor ref for verification or allow play to continue but ask the monitor ref to check it, then pull play back?
Getting the right balance between improvement & interferance is the tough one but I can't help feeling that ultimately it would be an improvement.

2/17/2006 12:10 am

Blogger BlindJak said...

Although it’s unlikely to happen at least it’s being discussed.

2/17/2006 1:42 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Yeah, thanks BJ, I read that too. I hope Sepp Blatter isn't bearing a grudge against technology where it is better in the improvement of decisions and the sport in general. But the good thing is certain authorities have at least entertained the credibility of considering discussing it. It is worth at least that.


2/17/2006 11:55 pm

Blogger T said...

Yep, thanks BJ for the link, and I ditto both you and Redsman with your views on this information. The fact that some authorities are calling for discussion of video technology is a step forward in the right direction. One to keep an eye on...

2/18/2006 11:02 am


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