By far the most contentious issue in the game today relates to disallowed goals when the ball looks to have crossed the line. Bearing in mind that the whole of the ball has to be over the line there are instances particularly in a crowded goalmouth when judgement by the naked eye is virtually impossible. The current theory is that if an assistant referee looking along the line can see the whole of the ball then there is no doubt that a goal should be given.
However as the assistant’s vision can be obscured by a defender covering the post, is it not time to adopt some form of touchline technology? The on the line magic eye between the posts could be some time down the track, especially for the smaller clubs on account of cost, but the fourth official equipped with a TV monitor, as happens in Rugby, could provide the answer.
Opponents of the idea claim that the checking time would disrupt the flow of the game but there would be less time wasted in carrying out the check than some goalkeepers take in lining up a goal kick.
In rugby the third official has to award a try unless there is a good reason not to do so but it would need to be the other way round in football as the concept is to be absolutely sure that the ball has crossed the line. If that situation is not clear it is no goal. The fourth official who should be free to make his decision without any harassment or pressure by personnel from both clubs involved has the final say.
Accepting the referee’s decision seems to be a big problem for certain players and whilst some managers express their displeasure with officials from the touchline, others are known to encourage players to apply the pressure on the park. Here again rugby could provide the answer. If every time a player or players dispute a decision,say for a free kick, the referee were to walk ten yards further forward and point to a new spot for the kick to be taken, it would be interesting to see if the players got the message before the next ten yards ended up inside the box leading to a penalty.
But don’t hold your breath, such action would require real commitment to stamp out what is no more than spoilt brat behaviour but it is doubtful if such courage exists within the sport’s governing body at the present time.
Next we have the petty offences like kicking the ball away, time wasting or dissent all of which currently warrant yellow cards. Time wasting is easy to deal with without flashing a card. All the ref has to do is tell the culprit that he is adding on time and tap his watch in public view so that everyone else gets the message.
For the other offences the idea of the ice hockey cooler or sin bin which has been adopted by rugby has some appeal. Yellow cards should be reserved for more serious breaches of the rules and sending someone who spits out his dummy to the cooler for instant punishment would have more effect especially if the team suffered as a result of the player being off the park.
Over the years discipline particularly in the professional game has got out of hand but it could be easily sorted out by determined officials on the field backed by a strong league management off it. The present freedom to abuse referees is a clear sign that both parties are not working together.
Written by our guest author Allan Alexander