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Should Video Replay Reviews Continue In Soccer?

Video replay made its first appearance in the world of football at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. We all appreciate FIFA for at least willing to experiment the replay system and see how it would work, but it’s fair to say that escalated quickly.

Video replay took into review penalties, offside goals, yellow and red cards, and mistaken identity. We all thought this system would help eliminate those crucial referee mistakes, but all it did was make everything more confusing and controversial. It was great to finally see this technology put into effect, but it’s clear that this system can’t be used in football.

Technology is finally making its way into the beautiful game, but it should only be implemented for plays that are 100 percent objective. Yes, we all want referees to make the right decisions. However, after watching this system, it may end up causing even more problems than before.    

What’s the problem with it?

  1. Even with video replay, there will still be a lot of plays that are subjective and come down to the referee's interpretation. Plays such as penalties, fouls outside the box, handballs (except for goals), and yellow/red cards are all subjective and depend on what referee is officiating the match. We still see these problems even without technology, such as with the handball rule.

  2. Who is in charge of determining whether a certain play should be reviewed? Is it the first referee, linesmen, fourth official, the assistant referees in front of the screens, the TV producer in the studio, or FIFA? What if a particular play is reviewed and another questionable one isn’t? If a foul not called is committed with the ball still in play, how much time needs to pass for the play to be reviewed? What if a goal is scored during that time? This will cause a big uproar especially with the top European clubs.

  3. What’s stopping the TV producer or even the assistant referees in the studio from refusing to display a certain image? A play may have five TV shots and one of them may decide to send the first official only four of those images.   

What should technology be used for?     

As previously mentioned, technology in football should only be used for plays that are 100% objective. What should this technology take into consideration:

  • Goal-line technology

  • Goals scored in offside, with the hand, or the ball was out of play

  • Mistaken identity: yellow or red cards

  • Fouls called on the edge of the box

Why these plays? Because they can be determined in an instant and require no interpretation from the referee. They require yes or no answers and would eliminate the “maybe” possibility, which was the real issue with this video replay in Japan.

The video replay system, like we saw at the FIFA Club World Cup, could eventually make its way into the beautiful game, but it would need to be fixed and improved greatly. All video replay will do is slow down the game, create more controversy, and put even more pressure on the referees.     

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