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.