Diego Costa incident highlights the need for video technology in football

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Football has made great strides in terms of technology over the last few years, with goal-line technology introduced into the Premier League in the 2013/14 season, before being successfully utilised in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The German Bundesliga has also adopted the technology for the 2015/16 campaign, putting to an end disputes over whether the ball did, or didn’t, cross the line.

However, technologically speaking, football is still far behind many sports and while some will claim that’s a good thing, incidents like Chelsea striker Diego Costa's on Saturday shows that the introduction of further technology might not be a bad step to take.


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In a game of the utmost importance for Jose Mourinho's Blues and Arsenal, referee Mike Dean had an afternoon to forget when he missed Costa’s tangle with Laurent Koscielny.

The Spaniard shoved his hands into the defender's face before swinging a trailing arm at his head which, by the letter of the law, was deserving of a straight red card.

Koscielny, understandably, was aggrieved by the 26-year-old's actions but not more so than Brazilian Gabriel Paulista, who confronted the striker and was soon sent off for what were inexcusable actions.

Since the confrontation, the FA have reviewed the scrap and since charged Costa with violent conduct, but this way of doing things will be no consolation to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

Costa should have received his punishment on the pitch at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, which would have presented Arsenal with a distinct advantage. Instead, The Blues were allowed to continue with 11 men while their opponents were eventually reduced to nine.

Retrospective bans are no good for the teams that have lost out as the result of the refereeing decision in question.

Rugby Union has been using video referees since 2001, which has relieved the pressure on match officials who can consult someone watching the game on a television screen when they are unsure over a decision.

Naturally, this has led to disruptions during games, but it’s also led to a higher standard of refereeing than we've seen in the Premier League.

Football has been reluctant to accept the use of video technology. Indeed, it’s something that’s been on the agenda for some time, but its introduction has never come to pass. As a direct result of this, referees continue to get big calls wrong and while fans are quick to criticise them, the fact is that they are not getting enough help.

More pairs of eyes are desperately needed and the answer is not additional officials behind the goal as the Champions League has proven. The Premier League and the wider world of football need to bring in video technology.

There is no computer that’s going to tell you whether Costa slapped his marker in the face, you need a human set of eyes looking at the pictures as the television viewer would.

Had another official been watching the images from the Chelsea-Arsenal encounter then they would have seen Costa's blatant discrepancies. Upon seeing what happened, either first time or on replay, the video referee could have easily informed referee Dean, and Costa would have been given his marching orders.

The Hawk-Eye system used in England’s Rugby World Cup clash with Fiji on Friday evening meant for a stop-start affair - a frustrating watch for some - with this is one of the main arguments against introducing something similar in football. The worry is that introducing a video referee will ruin the pace of the game.

Concerns have been raised that utilising video technology will ruin the spectacle of football matches, but doesn't referees getting key decisions wrong also do that? After all, the result at Stamford Bridge may have been wholly different if Costa got what he deserved.

It’s understandable that there’s a reluctance to embrace technology, and while such big changes are never easy to accept they can often work out for the best, as shown by the introduction of goal-line technology.

Many will feel that football works perfectly as it is - yes we see countless refereeing mistakes, but the sport is as popular in this country, and worldwide, as it’s ever been, and its controversy is what makes it the spectacle that it is.

However, there are still far too many injustices in a game that’s supposedly striving to be fair to everyone, so if the technology is there it needs to be used. After all, football is not rugby - often the decisions will be far clearer-cut and won’t need the same degree of analysis.

So football may be slowed down a bit, but if slowing the game down leads to a fairer game then that’s all the reason needed to do it.

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