VIDEO’S ROLE IN KEEP­ING GAME CLEAN

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

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

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