As well as approving the newly written Laws of the Game and all its changes, the International FA Board at its meeting in Cardiff earlier his month, also agreed to experiment with video replays for referees after flatly refusing to do so last year.
Even if it is finally approved, don’t expect it to be as successful as goal line technology. Whether the ball has crossed the line or not, is a matter of fact but so many offences are a matter of opinion. The Board has stated that it is not expected to achieve 100% accuracy for every single incident but to avoid ‘clearly incorrect decisions’ that are defined as ‘game changing’ decisions, goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.
Even so there will still be controversy. Let’s look at two recent penalty decisions that were ‘game changing’ both concerning Crystal Palace. Firstly, they lost their game against Liverpool after Christian Benteke went down following a challenge by Palace’s Damien Delaney. Even after viewing from various angles, two former Premier Leagues referees, Graham Poll and Mark Halsey, both with newspaper columns, came out with different answers. The two pundits on Match of the Day also couldn’t agree.
When you look at the replay of Palace’s defining goal in their FA Cup tie with Reading, you are faced with different possibilities. The replay shows that Royal’s centre-back Jake Cooper, did stretch out his arm in front of Yannick Bolasie. What wasn’t clear however, was whether Cooper either held him, or pushed him, one of which was needed to make it a foul or did Bolasie take advantage of his outstretched arm to fall over. Your guess is as good as mine.
The big question if they introduce video replays for ‘game changing incidents’ is going to be who will make those decisions, the referee on the pitch or the video referee in the stand? Based on the above incidents, the decision could still go either way.