VIDEO’S ROLE IN KEEPING GAME CLEAN
FIFA say video referees will be used at the 2018 World Cup. England may deploy them as soon as August. Both announcements are long overdue.
Opponents argue that controversy is football’s lifeblood, that a clinical approach to decisionmaking dilutes the drama. They have a point.
But set against other factors – the ever-increasing speed of the game, the disgraceful intimidation of referees, the vast financial sums at stake – those protestations appear petty.
Far more important, however, is their inherent ability to safeguard against corruption.
So much power does the man in the middle wield that one bent ref is all any gambling syndicate or club president needs to skew a result.
The 2006 Calciopoli scandal and the reprehensible performance of Byron Moreno at the 2002 World Cup are both relatively recent examples of this timeless scourge.
Disallowed goals, offsides, penalties and red cards are the stock-intrade of any official on the take. Yet these are the exact ‘match-changing’ decisions that will come under the remit of Video Assistant Referees.
Of course, a video ref can be bribed, too. But, unlike a referee, the rest of the world will see things from his or her vantage point. No ‘blocked view’. No ‘heat of the moment’.
Without plausible excuses to hide behind, bribery of officials becomes, if not impossible, then significantly more difficult. We may lose controversy but, if we gain a clean sport, that is a price worth paying.
PICTURE: On the monitor