Would video assisted refereeing stop us savouring the drama of football?

Opinion

Sometimes in football referees get it wrong. That is part of the game. And for the most part football fans accept this.

England fans have had a wealth of poor decisions given against them over the years. When Ronald Koeman professionally fouled David Platt in the penalty area in 1993 and the referee awarded a free kick outside the box. A decision that should have seen the Dutchman sent off. Later in the game, Koeman saw a free kick from 18 yards out repelled by the England wall only for the referee to order a retake after it was correctly deemed Paul Ince charged early. Koeman deftly clipped the retake over the wall into the top left hand corner. England went on to lose 2-0 and the result all but confirmed their absence from the USA 94 World Cup.

Sol Campbell has twice had seemingly fair goals disallowed. Firstly against Argentina in France 98 and secondly against Portugal at Euro 2002. In both games England went on to be eliminated.

At the South Africa World Cup in 2010 England were 2-1 down against Germany. Frank Lampard saw a long range effort rebound down off the crossbar and bounce over the line. It should have been 2-2 and made for an exhilarating finish. But the referee disallowed the goal and England were eventually beaten 4-1 and eliminated. This decision almost certainly led to the implementation of goal line technology at the 2014 World Cup.

Other sports make use of regular video assistance through technology and in nearly every case been positively received. The difference between football and other sports is referees are not given the same respect in football.

In cricket and rugby, the umpire and referee are sacred. Their decision is final and contesting their ruling is non-existent. This etiquette is profoundly missing in football. A move to video assisted decisions could potentially damage this relationship with referees because no longer would the on field referee have overall control.

Video assisted refereeing would have seen the correct decisions made in all the games mentioned. Koeman would have been sent off and England would have battled against a 10 man Dutch side for a place at the World Cup finals.

In 1998 Sol Campbell would have given the 10 man England (David Beckham had been sent off for kicking Diego Simeone) an 81st minute 3-2 lead against Argentina. In 2002, Campbell would have put England 2-1 ahead in the 89th minute, and all but sealed qualification. And in 2010 Lampard would have equalised and put England back in the game. Albeit the Germans would have still moved into a different class.

In each case the referee would have been able to quickly consult his video assistant and make a correct decision. These incidents would not have required a long deliberation and the game would only have stopped for one minute at the most.

At this point we don’t know how much it will change the game before we can say that it is good or bad move for football. In reality we should love watching the way the game is played rather than dwell on decisions the man with the whistle makes.

But if we lost the controversy of ‘nearly’ moments, would we lose something from the game that none of us even realise we savour?