Happy New Year: Soccer May Be About To Change In A Big Way
Least attractive jobs for the new year:
1. New York Giants restroom attendant.
2. Steve Harvey cuecard guy.
3. Pro soccer referee.
I've often thought about No. 3, first of all because soccer seems like such an impossible sport to officiate, second only to pro basketball. Many calls are so subjective that it's impossible to please everyone. And when shit does hit the fan, imagine a dozen angry athletes rushing you at the same time, screaming in different languages, and you with only a tiny red card for protection. Because soccer rules seem to allow players to bum-rush the ref.
One reason for that is that soccer has a higher per capita population of devout purists this side of the Tea Party. The last major rule revision was the addition of video replay on scoring plays for the World Cup ... and before that, it was the time they decided to make the ball round. Soccer's spirit animal is the sloth, or perhaps the tortoise, or a road-kill raccoon. Soccer would still count balls hit over the outfield fence as outs, if soccer was baseball.
But there's about to be a big change. The FA (British Football Association) sent a questionnaire recently to Premiere league teams, listing potential changes in game technology. If the teams approve it, the league will see major changes in how games are officiated. Daily Mail:
Red cards, penalty kicks, goals, violent conduct, offsides and incidents off the ball — all could be up for video scrutiny, if the clubs are supportive. The feedback will be used by the FA to formulate a strategy in time for the Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board in March.
In other words, the FA will be testing ground for dramatically expanded video replay. The NFL is going in this direction, but a lot quicker.
On the international level, the International Football Association Board is also considering video replay experiments in other jurisdictions, according to the Associated Press. Plus:
FIFA says IFAB will also discuss in January the merits of sin-bins, allowing temporary substitutions for injuries that require "momentary treatment," and a fourth substitute in extra time.
The discussions could lead to rule changes at the main annual IFAB meeting in March.
Here's the questionnaire:
1. With regard to key match decisions that could be reviewed, which of the following do you believe should be reviewed using technology?
a) Yellow cards
b) Red cards
c) Red card offences seen but not detected by the referee
d) Penalty area incidents that may result in a penalty
e) Offences that take place close to the penalty area
f) Goals scored with possible offside or foul play in the build-up to a goal
g) Unseen incidents such as violent conduct
h) Second yellow cards
i) Tackles that may have resulted in a second yellow card but where the referee took no further action
j) Offside offences that immediately result in a goal
k) Mistaken identity
POLL’S verdict: Review any red card offences (seen or missed by the active officials) as well as goals and penalties.
2. Are there any other key match decisions you think should be included?
POLL’S verdict: No others.
3. When should the review take place?
a) Only when play has been stopped by the referee and he wishes to review an incident?
b) Only when play has been stopped by the referee and the ‘remote referee’ (match officials with access to multiple angles on instant replay) advises the referee to review an incident?
c) Only when play has been stopped and the team manager wishes to ‘challenge’ a decision?
d) By the referee stopping play when he is uncertain of a decision to review it?
e) The ‘remote referee’ intervening if he believes the referee has made a mistake and asking him to stop play?
f) By the team manager requesting to stop play to challenge a decision?
POLL’S verdict: Reviews should take place when the pitch referee requests one.
4. What length of time is appropriate to stop the game to review a decision or for the remote referee to review a decision before advising the referee to stop the game?
a) 15 seconds
b) 30 seconds
c) 45 seconds
d) Less than 2 minutes
e) As long as it takes
POLL’S verdict: Reviews that cannot clarify a decision within 30 seconds should result in the referee’s original decision being upheld.
5. If a referee has to review a decision it is likely that until technology has advanced he will have to use a pitch-side monitor. This will impact on the length of stoppage. Where should this review take place?
a) In the technical area?
b) In a pitchside location which is public?
c) In a pitchside location which is private?
POLL’S verdict: The review should be done by the video official who is in a private booth. The video official needs to be a former referee who the pitch referee trusts and works with on a consistent basis.
6. Who should make the final decision after reviewing a replay of the incident?
a) Match referee
b) Another referee in remote location communicating directly with the referee c) Other
POLL’S verdict: The video official in a private booth.
7. Football decisions can be very subjective. In the event that the video review is inconclusive how should the final decision be made?
a) The referee’s initial decision stands
b) The referee decides having reviewed the footage
c) The remote referee’s decision stands
POLL’S verdict: If the video evidence is still inconclusive the original decision must stand. This ensures that the referee has to still take decisions and unless clearly mistaken is supported to remain credible.
8. Do you believe that video technology should be used to aid match officials’ decision-making in the following games?
a) Premier League
c) League One and Two
d) FA Cup
POLL’S verdict: Technology can assist all levels of football but can only practically be introduced where multi-camera coverage exists.
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