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The Refusal Of FIFA And UEFA To Use Video Technology

Thu, 7 May 2009

I have been keeping an eye on critical refereeing mistakes for a while now.  The awarding of penalties and sendings off are considered “critical”.

Although the sample size to date is limited, it appears that critical refereeing mistakes tend on average to favour the higher profile club.

Most of these critical errors could easily have been resolved by video technology.  Yet FIFA and UEFA continue to give the same old excuses for not introducing video technology, even for critical decisions.

As an alternative to goal-line technology and “potentially disruptive” instant TV replays, Uefa – initiated by Platini – has been looking at a new refereeing system whereby the referee is helped by four rather than two assistants.

My response remains the same:

Is the time the referee spends consulting with two extra assistants any less “disruptive” than use of video technology? More significantly, decisions will not be any less contentious.

FIFA and UEFA have their own agenda. They want higher profile teams to get through the later stages or finals of major competitions. There is a lot of money at stake. It inevitably influences referees.

I doubt FIFA and UEFA would put pressure on a referee for any particular match. However, the introduction of video technology would not be in the financial interests of FIFA and UEFA, as it would limit their scope for any kind of extraneous influence over the outcome of critical matches.

Blatant cases of corruption by referees may be rare in Europe but who is to say high profile examples, such as that by Anderlecht of the referee in their UEFA Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest in 1984, are not the tip of the iceberg? In September 1997, 13 years after the event, it was reported:

Anderlecht have finally paid the price for bribing the referee in their Uefa Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest 13 years ago and will be banned from the next European competition they qualify for.

European football’s governing body, which had previously said it could do nothing because the offence had been committed more than 10 years ago, imposed the ban yesterday.

Uefa has taken the action after admissions by Roger Vanden Stock, the chairman of the Belgian side, that the club, under his father’s chairmanship, paid pounds 20,000 to the Spanish referee after their 1984 semi-final.

Vanden Stock said his father had given Guruceta Muro, killed in a car crash in 1987, “a loan” the day after the second leg of the tie, which Anderlecht won 3-0 to wipe out Forest’s 2-0 first-leg lead. The English club had scored a disallowed goal in the second leg, which television replays showed was legitimate.

FIFA and UEFA have repeatedly shown themselves unwilling to investigate referees, even when they make numerous poor or suspicious decisions in a high profile match.

A refereeing display that calls out for investigation is that by Michel Kitabdjian in the 1975 European Cup Final between Bayern Munich and Leeds United.

If nothing else, the use of video technology would greatly limit the scope for corrupt referees to hide their wrongdoing behind the excuse of human error.

Its about time football had its own truth and reconciliation commission. It would be appropriate if it could take place before the next World Cup in 2010, in South Africa, where the term was used to overcome the injustices of the apartheid system.

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11 comments

  1. I’ve added a comment on Phil McNulty’s blog on BBC Sport.


  2. [...] Insights A collation of my football-related articles and posts « The Refusal Of FIFA And UEFA To Use Video Technology Norwich City & Southampton » Who’d Be A Referee? Sun, 10 May 2009 [...]


  3. The outcry over Thierry Henry’s “handball” goal for France against Ireland has died down. The fact remains that France are through to the World Cup and Ireland are not.


  4. The response of the FA to Michael Turner’s appeal against his red card is to increase his suspension to 4 games and to charge Steve Bruce with improper conduct.

    As Carlton Palmer and Trevor Sinclair pointed out on the Football Channel, Michael Turner’s challenge on Gareth Barry looks far more innocuous than Fernando Torres’s challenge on Younes Kaboul in a match earlier the same day (at 53 mins 18 secs).

    Michael Turner’s raised arm looked like a genuine attempt to gain leverage as he leapt for the ball. There was no glance in the direction of Gareth Barry at all, so he would not have been aware of the risk of catching him with his elbow.

    On the other other hand, as spotted by the two match analysts on the Football Channel, Fernando Torres has a sideways glance at Younes Kaboul before swinging his arm, which caught Kaboul in the face. Not even a yellow card for that.

    It would appear that Michael Turner had an arguable case. It is therefore very surprising that the FA increased his suspension on the grounds that his appeal had no prospect of success.

    Similarly, the FA increased the suspension of Jon Stead from 3 games to 4 on the grounds that his appeal against his red card had no prospect of success, even though the opposing manager, Neil Warnock, was of the view that it only merited a yellow card.

    You would think that if the opposing manager felt that the red card was harsh, it would be reasonable to appeal, but the FA obviously thought otherwise.

    Apart from a refusal to use video technology, not only is there a reluctance to review the performance and decisions of referees, there also appears to be a move to increase the punishment for players who appeal on the spurious ground that the appeal had no prospect of success.

    There is also an element of referees (and by proxy, the FA) favouring or being overly-protective of bigger-name players.


  5. [...] more meaningful re-examination of football history should include the role of the authorities.  As I said before: Its about time football had its own truth and reconciliation commission. It would be appropriate [...]


  6. Blatter apologises, for his stupidity?


  7. [...] should be as simple as possible, applied simply, and keep up to date with changes in society.  You’re never going to get that with football while it is run by a bunch of clowns. Chief [...]


  8. [...] of ill-conceived changes to the laws or FIFA/UEFA/FA directives and decisions are at odds with common sense. Referees are caught in between, and you end up with are ever more inconsistent and controversial [...]


  9. [...] The Refusal Of FIFA And UEFA To Use Video Technology, posted 7 May 2009 [...]


  10. [...] from the “corrupt” final of 1975, Bayern have always lost to English clubs in the final.  In finals between clubs from the same [...]



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