Following what can only be called a dubious penalty decision at Chelsea last week, West Bromwich Albion have written to the Premier League to request the use of video reviews for penalty shouts.
So is this just sour grapes from a side who felt they spurned the opportunity of three points at Stamford Bridge – as well as ending Jose Mourinho’s 66 game unbeaten home record – or do they have a genuine case for change?
Although goal-line technology has now been introduced to top flight games, the midlands club want to go one further and allow officials to look back at decisions; not based on fact, but based on opinion.
We've seen in cricket, once considered the most gentlemanly of games, how video replays have now become part and parcel of today’s tests and one day internationals – often dictating the decisions players and captains make; as well as thrusting the umpires firmly into the spotlight on almost every occasion.
Here are some of the more obvious reasons why the same could never be allowed to happen in football.
1. Who decides?
Picture the scene. The assistant referee flags for what he or she thinks is a push in the box and believes a penalty should be given.
This is a regular occurrence in today’s game, but would a group of officials huddled round a TV monitor and subsequently debating their final decision result in a definitive decision?
Let’s face it, more often than not penalties are a judgement call rather than a matter of fact, so the debate could rage for some time.
2. The time factor
If the American model were to be followed then teams would have an allotted number of “challenges” each to use if they think they have been hard-done-by in the box.
But you only have to watch a highly charged Premier League game to see the amount of penalty claims that are made, so even if each team were to be awarded five per match - that could be almost an extra hour of play even for the most tepid of games.
3. The flow of the game
One of the biggest factors when it came to the introduction of goal-line technology was Frank Lampard’s “phantom goal” against Germany in the 2010 World Cup.
But anyone who remembers that incident will recall that as England were still remonstrating with the officials about the goal that never was; Germany went straight down the other end and nearly scored.
What would happen if a team was able to review a penalty call just as their opponents were sticking the ball in at the other end doesn't bear thinking about.
It’s taken years to research, design and produce the technology required just to show whether the ball has crossed the goal line.
Can you imagine what would have to be involved in order to give a referee enough evidence to change his mind on a penalty claim in front of thousands of angry fans and millions of TV viewers?
5. The referee’s integrity
One of the biggest opponents of any video referral system could well be the referees themselves. As in cricket, the ability to look over-and-over again at an official’s decision could lead to the men in the middle being publicly scrutinised for a call they made in good faith.
As we all know, football is a game of opinions and the longer that remains the same, the better for all of us.
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