The Time Has Come for Video Refereeing

Marc Vitenzon

On the 24th of April, 2017 there were three Champions League matches and three wrong penalty calls.  In Dortmund, Germany high-flying teenager Mbappé cheaply went down in the 16th minute. Fortunately, Fabinho would not be able to take advantage of the refereeing mistake, as he failed to convert the penalty. Monaco would still triumph on the night and in the tie.

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Fabinho’s penalty goes wide.

At the Vicente Calderon in Madrid, Spain, Griezmann was fouled by Marc Albrighton in the 28th minute outside of the box. However, a penalty would be given. The penalty would be the only goal scored in an intense match which seemed bound to have ended in stalemate otherwise. The goal would seal Leicester’s fate, as they would crash out of the Champions after drawing Atletico 1-1 in the reverse fixture. Finally, in Munich, Bayern failed to convert a penalty which would have been pivotal in setting the tone for the remainder of the tie. A refereeing fiasco of an even greater magnitude ensued in the second leg of the tie, which featured three goals that involved play from an offside position.

Are the referees truly at fault? It is difficult to say. Premier League referees go through rigorous training and face stiff competition from other ambitious refs. Being able to referee a match at the top level is no fluke. It takes years of officiating matches in the lower leagues and spending hours studying the laws of the game in order to even be considered as a referee for the English Championship. It is, therefore, nothing short of remarkable to see Mark Clattenburg, voted the best referee in the world in 2016, criticized and ridiculed at the slightest mistake. Surely, his realization that one can never be a hero as a referee played a role in his decision to pack his bags and go to Saudi Arabia. Spectators see challenges slowed down and from multiple angles before they make their judgment, and for some reason, referees do not have that luxury.

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Mark Clattenburg named the best referee of 2016

In the Spain vs. France friendly match a few weeks ago, Griezmann scored a goal from an offside position. However, his celebration was interrupted in mere seconds albeit the linesman was not raising his flag. The truth is that if implemented correctly, the transition to video refereeing should be flawless. It can be seen as having the same effect as goalline technology who knows what would have happened in THAT England vs. Germany World Cup game had the goal that barely crossed the line counted? What if the referee did not see that the ball did not cross the line by mere millimeters in the Bournemouth vs. Liverpool game? There are a lot of “what ifs” in this game, and if we let all of them be decided fairly through skill and hard work the sport will change for the better.

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The goal that never counted – England vs. Germany 2010.

As leagues all across the world begin considering adopting refereeing technology, some players still believe video refereeing will take away the passion and drama from matches (looking at you Christian Fuchs and Luka Modric). However, if the passion that they prefer is that of Chelsea vs. Barcelona game in 2009, or the game which brought forth the cry of “NO ERA PENAL” to be sent out en masse via Twitter, then I am all for it.

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