Monday, November 24, 2008

UEFA Has Solved Your Referee Problems

Pictured above: Bennett, Webb, and Dowd. Not pictured: Styles

Complaining about the referees is, as Brave John Terry would tell you, the God-given right of every footballer. Most of the complaints revolve around four things: (1) that forward is a diving poofter who dove (i.e. the Cristiano Ronaldo factor); (2) that defender is a dirty hack who hacked me (i.e. the Marco Materazzi factor); (3) I have suffered an egregious violation/affront within the 6-yard box and must immediately be awarded a penalty; and (4) the ball did/did not cross over the goal-line. Well, fret no more, as UEFA has solved all of these problems!

Surely you have all been watching the UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round mini-tournament in Cyprus. No? How strange, I assumed that everyone here spent 19 hours a day watching footy. Perhaps because these matches are "under-the-radar", UEFA (that's the Union of European Football Associations) has taken the opportunity to experiment with a system of 5 referees per match. There are the typical center referee and 2 assistant referees along the touchline, but these are bolstered by an additional assistant referee behind each goal-line. In theory the 2 additional ARs will help the referee with the most important decisions, such as penalties/fouls in the area.

So far UEFA has implemented the system in 3 separate mini-tournaments for the qualifying rounds in the Under-19 Championship. Overall, the 5 referees on the pitch are being assessed by a team of former top-level international referees, including 2 members of the UEFA Referees Committee (Hugh Dallas of Scotland, and Marc Batta of France). Although there is no word on the effectiveness at the Cyprus tournament, results from mini-tournament in Slovenia seem encouraging. It was there that UEFA President Michel Platini and General Secretary David Taylor were linked in to the referees' communication during the match. Both men felt that the additional referees provided an increased efficiency and accuracy to the match, with Taylor noting one play in particular:

"For example, in the first half, we saw a goalkeeper diving at the feet on the oncoming centre-forward. Was it a penalty or not? It was clear from behind the goal that it was not. These important decisions require the best sight of the situation, and this is what I witnessed myself."

So, how long until we see this experiment take place in other venues? Will we see a move to the Champions League or domestic leagues first? Regardless, what happens the first time a "behind-the-goal" AR blows an important call? Fear not, good people, for UEFA has all the answers...

...Answers to be forthcoming by 2027.


Mike Georger said...

it helped the nhl.

why was goalline sniffing technology killed?

Bigus Dickus said...

If it stops 23 year old refs flashing red cards 2 seconds after an incident then I am all for it.

Nathaniel said...

Light the Lamp!

oh, wait...Georger already made that joke.