Football Can Learn From Skynet….

With only three games into the season at the time, Aaron Ramsey’s comments regarding offside decisions highlighted what is the Proverbial herd of white elephants in FIFA’s meeting room at a very early stage in the footballing calendar.

Ramsey called for change after seeing a legitimate goal ruled out versus Liverpool; a game which ended in stalemate. It is ultimately futile to speculate how the rest of the game would have played out but what is safe to assume is that had the goal been correctly given in a match which ended on a precipice, it could have been enough to grab all three points.

Three points which will prove vital at the business end of the season.

Video assistance was referenced by Arsenal’s Welsh midfielder as means of aiding match officials reach the correct decision. After years of dodgy calls and mistakes from referees, we glean the same result as the cyborgs built by Skynet who eventually sparked Armageddon – Humans are fallible.

Mistakes will always be made if decisions fall on the eyes of a referee and his assistant. Thanks to the stubbornness of evolution, we are unable to swivel our heads 360 degrees a la owls, and we are yet to master the ability to see through solid matter. What can be improved upon by match officials is personal fitness so they can keep up with play, but errors will always have a part to play. What is important is that these errors don’t steal the show.

Prior to the season starting, the offside rule was changed somewhat. If a player makes an attempt to gain possession whilst in an offside position, then he is ruled offside. A perfect example of this would be Liverpool’s slender 1-0 win Vs newly promoted Bournemouth. Philippe Coutinho is offside.

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This ‘goal’ was given. A week later we have Aaron Ramsey denied a perfectly good goal and we now have a team benefitting to the tune of potentially four extra points they may not have had if the rules were adhered to.

So how can football change for the better and see the spoils go to the appropriate victor?

Surely tennis can be used as a prime example. This game has many line judges and officials whose sole job is to watch the feet of the server to deem whether a foot fault has occurred. The umpire in his high chair has many people to help him in his quest to officiate. Yet he often makes errors as again, humans are fallible.

So each player has three appeals per set if they think a decision should be overturned. A myriad of cameras, overlooking the all important tramlines and court boundaries, provide the required vantage to decide if a shot has wandered out of the realms of the legal. The replay time needed is miniscule and doesn’t disrupt the flow of the game. The crowd even interact with the incident, providing dramatic noises akin to when a goalkeeper has a goalkick. Not quite the ‘Ooooooospinaaa’ chant, but you get my drift.

Can this procedure be adapted to the Premiership? That is open to interpretation and perspective. Surely though, video replays for certain incidents can be implemented? Let us take a penalty appeal for instance.

An attacking player rampages into the opposition box, pulls his leg back to fire in an unopposed shot that will surely ripple the net. A defender slides in to block / take out and snuff out the threat. The attacker falls to the floor and both players from the ground wheel around to a match official ten to fifteen yards back, hands clasped in vain pleas. The referee’s view was impeded somewhat by a host of players rushing back to help the attack or indeed stem it. The fourth official also can’t provide a conclusive outcome. This has happened on countless occasions and yet decisions still have to be made and this would mean massive verdicts being reached on inconclusive evidence. If this was a court then the case would be thrown out.

Amidst the appeals from both sides and a swarm of players around a beleaguered referee, would a referral from the official really disrupt what is already a disrupted game? It normally takes at least a minute to continue the game after a penalty appeal, so would thirty seconds really hamper the match? Sky Sports coverage have done the exact same thing for a number of years.

In terms of offside calls, this may be more difficult to award the correct result. Using Aaron Ramsey’s attempt Vs Liverpool as an example, it would be impossible to award the goal as the flag is raised so promptly and players will switch off once the flag is shown. You therefore cannot give the goal, but maybe with video technology, a free kick can be awarded to Arsenal instead? Not quite the ample compensation but at least it means some justice is reaped.

With Benteke’s ‘goal’, this would be surely easier. After every goal there is a lull in proceedings which is the perfect window to go to a video judge who can assert if the goal breaches the new offside regulations. Simple really, but not if you are FIFA, who revel in idiocy and scandal.

Other improvements can be gleaned from other sports. The mic that is sported by Rugby officials could be worn by referee’s and this would provide a different facet to the game. Perhaps it would even offer an alternative view to ‘arrogant’ officials if fans could be privy to conversations between the men in black and players on the pitch. If not, it would definitely clear up any ‘Clattenburg/Chelsea‘ miasma’s that may yet rise again.

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The bottom line is that football in comparison to other high-profile sports is being left behind. With the Premiership being a global brand, it needs change to drag it to the modern age. With the ridiculous money being chucked around so flagrantly as well, how long will it be before a bad decision ends up costing a club hundreds of millions and a back-page hogging court case ensues?

Whilst terrible decisions always give fans viable excuses to give in riposte to banter from rival supporters, and a bad call will always be a great conversation starter, the time has come for video to be brought into the game in some fashion.

Skynet had a point. Humans are fallible, and all the time we rely solely on referees, then errors will be made. 

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