World Cup open thread 2

by Chris Bertram on June 28, 2010

Now England, France and the USA have been given their marching orders, perhaps we can get on with enjoying the football. On the first of those, I’d just like to say (i) that of course we need technology to check whether the ball has crossed the line, (ii) that Jamie Carragher would never have been caught out (as Terry and Upson were) for that first German goal and (iii) that the Germans, unlike the English (and the French), grasp that football is a team game – so well done to them. Personally, I’m backing Ghana until they go out (and having warm feelings about Japan too). Realistically though, Argentina.

{ 288 comments }

1

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 7:34 am

I’m sure England were convinced they were playing an inferior team made up almost entirely of Bundesliga players. They were almost entirely right – except for their superiority complex.

(taking the technology route in soccer is a decidedly anti-egalitarian choice; it is ‘americanizing’ the sport; I don’t know, I can at least – for once – understand the bobo’s in resisting this)

2

afinetheorem 06.28.10 at 7:47 am

As an American, of course I’m for as much technology as possible, but even if one does not want games stopped mid-stream for review, I don’t understand not reviewing calls after the game is over. If Kaka is sent off after an obvious dive, why can’t FIFA rescind the next-game ban after the match (and indeed, why can’t then impose the next-game ban on the actor responsible for such chicanery)? The actual play of the games would not change, players would be less willing to attempt the trick the refs, and just results would hold ex-post. I’m all for tradition, but stubbornness and injustice are not really what Burke was talking about…

(Of course, tradition is also fully maintained if we just add a 5th ref behind the goal (or a computer chip) to check whether the ball went in. I think FIFA feels like the IOC is beating them in the race to see whose elderly, dictatorial ruler can make the most decisions that utterly puzzle Americans every four years.)

3

Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 7:58 am

_it is ‘americanizing’ the sport_

I’m not sure what is “americanizing” in adopting the practices of rugby union in this respect.

4

sg 06.28.10 at 8:07 am

ha! If cameras were actually allowed in this sport, Italy would have been down to 8 men against Slovakia in the last 10 minutes. One down in the first half for kicking the goalkeeper out of play while the ref wasn’t looking (unpunished); and another two for attacking the same keeper inside the goal, kicking and punching him, for which they were rewarded when the keeper received a yellow card. The whole thing happened in full view of the goal-corner camera, but strangely the ref and the assistant ref didn’t see it. In rugby that would be a several-match-long ban, regardless of what the ref didn’t see at the time.

Good riddance to these crappy teams. NZ should have been through in place of Italy, and some other England team (not composed of has-beens) should have been through in place of England.

5

Alex 06.28.10 at 8:18 am

By the way, Germany for the win?

6

Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 8:21 am

_If cameras were actually allowed in this sport, Italy would have been down_

Not necessarily true. There’s no reason why the use of cameras would be unrestricted like this. You could use in-ball sensors to check whether the ball had crossed the line and permit a limited number of challenges (3 per coach per game) on offside, or whatever. The video ref in RU isn’t concerned with real-time brutality in the ruck.

7

sg 06.28.10 at 8:21 am

Argentina-Germany final?

8

sg 06.28.10 at 8:25 am

True Chris, but I would expect that cameras would be concerned with brutality in a non-contact sport, and I would also expect that they be used to adjudicate diving, particularly for PKs.

Better still would be for the assistant referees to be a little more active in bringing these matters to the referee’s attention. How the assistant missed the kick at the keeper when it happened straight after an offside decision, I cannot guess. The referee and the assistant managed to see the keeper punch an Italian player in the face from his position buried under 2 of them – I don’t see how the assistant managed to miss the initial attack.

It’s almost as if the big teams are given favourable treatment…

9

Ray 06.28.10 at 8:28 am

In-ball sensors for the goal-line, fine, because it gives an immediate, unambiguous answer. But video replays? Stop the game for five minutes so we can watch some ads and the referee can watch a video that doesn’t capture the incident at a good angle, or doesn’t make ‘intent’ any clearer, and can’t tell you if someone was actually interfering with play? No thanks.

And you were joking about Carragher, yes? He’s still on the bench, only just starting to wonder why the stadium has gone so quiet.

10

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 8:54 am

I did not know rugby union was already ‘americanized’ but be that as it may: it is anti-egalitarian to introduce elements to the sport that the poorer leagues for sure cannot muster (& hence can’t prepare for).

11

ejh 06.28.10 at 9:02 am

As a few people have pointed out in other places, it’s precisely not for cases like Lampard’s that goalline technology has been proposed – it was so far over the line that technology shouldn’t come into it. In fact, in about forty years of watching games on telly (and thirty of attending them in person) I can’t recall an occasion where the ball has hit the bar and come down so far over the line without being given. It’s the close ones you’re going to want the technology for, not the outliers.

As far as the technology is concerned – I’m unconvinced. I’m very much against it in general, because football, unlike (say) tennis or cricket, is not a game of plays, it’s a flowing game which you can’t just interrupt for replays all the time. Specifically as regards ball-over-the-line incidents, I can see the point – and I imagine Chesterfield fans can too – but even here, I’m doubtful that sensors and cameras will, in fact, give a definitive answer. It doesn’t always either in cricket or in rugby league, two sports I’m familiar with which employ replays. I therefore tend to think that bas deciions and the controversies that results from them (see also, yesterday’s other game) are so much part of the fabric of the game that it’s not worth holding it up for several minutes to avoid them.

As far as England’s defending was concerned, it was shocking but I have some sympathy for the central defenders in so far as they had very little experience in playing alongside one another. I have less sympathy on the third German goal – if Oxford gave away a goal like that I’d be screaming “far too easy!” at them. Long clearance from the box and next thing you know it’s in the net? Very poor stuff. What was Gareth Barry doing?

12

stostosto 06.28.10 at 9:17 am

One sees such football being played and what can one say but – England?

Actually, I was quite surprised at the uncharacteristic tameness of this England team. Compare Mexico’s desperate efforts when down 3-1 against Argentina. By contrast, England seemed completely resigned. Certainly no Paul Gascoigne types there. And where was Rooney? Where?

13

ejh 06.28.10 at 9:24 am

In the centre circle, hunting for the ball.

I don’t know that England were so tame. They fought back quickly enough when they went 2-0 down. Also bear in mind that Germany were no sooner 3-1 up than it was 4-1, and that was pretty much that. (Or, for that matter, if we’re talking about “uncharacteristic”, England’s abjectness when 2-1 down against Brazil, in 2002, despite playing the last half-hour with a man extra, made the last twenty minutes of yesterday’s match look positively end-to-end.)

14

IM 06.28.10 at 9:38 am

Well I liked the german performance, although they were a bit shaky in the period of the two english goals and needed some time to come back. So they can get in trouble as soon as they face adversity. On the other hand they should have gained more self-confidene now; perhaps enough for Argentine.

15

Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 9:40 am

_And you were joking about Carragher, yes? _

Not at all. A great reader of the game, even if his legs are starting to go. He’d have anticipated and acted. (He’d also done his homework on every team and player – I really do look forward to him replacing Townshend, Shearer and the other ignoramuses in the studio.)

16

Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 9:41 am

… or is it that you think that he’s thick because he has a Scouse accent, Ray, and that’s the “point” of your remark?

17

Ray 06.28.10 at 9:50 am

What, I think Carragher can’t run, makes up for his complete lack of pace by hauling down players – and at international level, getting booked – and that means I’m racist?

18

foolishmortal 06.28.10 at 9:52 am

It’s true about Carragher; his judgment and positioning are exceptional. They’re what allow a man of roughly the size and speed of a fit Frankenstein to make a living in the Premier League.

19

stostosto 06.28.10 at 9:54 am

Oh, and I too was absolutely incredulous at the first German goal. A ball like that will never be allowed to bounce even on the level I am playing, which is really, really low – men in their forties puttering about, gasping for breath. And to think that England’s traditional trademark is the heading game.

20

ejh 06.28.10 at 10:02 am

Yes, looking at it again it’s as bad as the fourth (not the third, as I erroneously wrote above). I wonder if there was confusion about whose ball it was to head?

21

stostosto 06.28.10 at 10:04 am

“Also bear in mind that Germany were no sooner 3-1 up than it was 4-1, and that was pretty much that. “

Well, judging from the English players it certainly was. However a little more spirit and bloodymindedness would have made for a better game. Think Milan-LFC 2005.

I am quite happy that Germany went through, btw. I think they play a very watchable and entertaining type of football. I would just have liked to have seen England mount a greater challenge.

22

stostosto 06.28.10 at 10:13 am

Personally, I’m backing Ghana until they go out (and having warm feelings about Japan too). Realistically though, Argentina

Spain is very much in the running too, and Uruguay have done very well. Funny, btw, how no one – none of the pundits I have been watching anyway – mentions Brazil. It’s almost as if they’re an outsider this time around. I do think they will be very hard to beat, and while they haven’t achieved the charming flow and ease of touch that you want and expect from them, they seem very very focused.

23

Ollie 06.28.10 at 10:17 am

Every other sport now uses video technology. There is now no longer any kind of sound argument for not having video technology. None.

24

foolishmortal 06.28.10 at 10:25 am

Well, NFL-style challenges followed by commercial breaks would certainly suck, but decisions that need not be given in real time (goals awarded, names taken) could certainly be helped by a fourth official with a monitor.

25

ejh 06.28.10 at 10:33 am

Every other sport now uses video technology. There is now no longer any kind of sound argument for not having video technology. None.

You can read more than one in this thread alone.

Funny, btw, how no one – none of the pundits I have been watching anyway – mentions Brazil.

I think that’s probably because “well, obviously Brazil”. We might note too that they’re in what appears to be the easier half of the draw.

Obviously I recall the Milan-Liverpool comeback, and for that matter this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kx9poEmLAc

but to be fair, three goals down with twenty minutes to go and you can’t get the ball is not the stuff of which comebacks are often made.

26

praisegod barebones 06.28.10 at 10:35 am

Ollie

Earnest O’nest gave an argument at 10. It strikes me as being quite a good one. What do you think is wrong with it?

27

Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 10:46 am

Praisegod, doesn’t it fall foul of the levelling-down objection? (Assuming that’s a good objection, of course.)

28

Meh 06.28.10 at 10:57 am

“(ii) that Jamie Carragher would never have been caught out (as Terry and Upson were) for that first German goal”

Absolutely right. He’s far too slow to have got that far from his own penalty area.

29

stostosto 06.28.10 at 10:58 am

to be fair, three goals down with twenty minutes to go and you can’t get the ball is not the stuff of which comebacks are often made.

I understand what you’re saying, but actually Mexico was also down by three goals with twenty minutes to go, and I’d estimate getting the ball from Argentina isn’t that much easier than getting it from Germany…

The fact is also that a lot can happen in very little time in football. (Arsenal – Man Utd. 1979; Man U. – Bayern Munich 1999 etc., etc.) But you have to pursue your luck.

30

ejh 06.28.10 at 11:10 am

#29: I don’t really disagree, but I just think it’s a bit of a fringe argument: it was all over barring a miracle, and the fact that they could have fought harder for that miracle doesn’t change that. I think the only thing that possibly bugs me about it is that it took the heat out of a game which had been fantastic to watch for more than a hour.

Pace. I think lack of pace may be death for a defender at international level more than it is for a midfielder or forward. (I think of Matt Elliott, for instance, who had everything a top-class central defender needs except for that.) You can get caught for pace up front, and there’s still most of your team between your goal and the ball: get caught for pace at the back against top-class opposition, and you’re dead.

31

novakant 06.28.10 at 11:15 am

Argentina-Germany final?

You’re in luck: Sat July 3rd at 15.00 :) – gonna be fun I’m sure!

32

novakant 06.28.10 at 11:16 am

33

ejh 06.28.10 at 11:24 am

Argentina-Germany final?

I don’t suppose whoever wrote that was under the impression there’s a fresh draw for pairings after each round?

34

Ollie 06.28.10 at 12:03 pm

praisegod barebones,

In much of Africa, the game is largely played at youth level without things such as boots, shin pads, corner flags, goal nets etc. If we were holding FIFA to their logic we’d be trying to get rid of shin pads and football boots since people in large parts of Africa, South Asia and Latin America can’t afford them.

I have been a referee. At most of the games I’ve officiated at lower levels, I often didn’t even have linesmen talkless of the fancy radio equipment with which the officials at the World Cup and higher levels of football communicate.

We all know that the game in poorer climes suffers a lack of resources compared to the richer leagues. That’s why a soccer-mad country like Nigeria with 150 million people struggles to make their mark at the World Cup.

You might say that given the gap that already exists, we should look to not further widen the gap. But we can’t ignore the fact that football in Guatemala is not televised whereas football in Holland is televised, and it would be a barely noticeable incremental step, to have the referee confer with a 5th official sitting in the TV broadcast room.

35

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 12:08 pm

I probably don’t have the right kind of dog in this race — I am more interested in drama and entertainment than fairness or justice or good decisions — but what about an off-pitch super-referee monitoring the relevant videos etc who has the power (i) to let the on-pitch ref know (via headphones) when something fantastically egregious has been missed; and (ii) to judge when/if PLAY ON is better for the game — re e.g. ejh’s flow — than stoppage? (Which would obviate the kinds of off-the-ball gamesmanship that public replays on player appeal will certainly lead to…)

Technology won’t of course make for better reffing, on-pitch or off: it will just punt the need for judgment off towards the harder-to-decide situations, leaving exactly as many people enraged.

36

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 12:18 pm

@34- so let’s take the FA Cup. From which stage onwards to we have technology? What with the final if it is between a Premier League team and a team that has no experience with technology?

I can agree Sepp Blatter is a moron but soccer is not an American-style franchise where you will need multi-million capital to even have the possibility of even having a chance to compete – and the fact that out of the last 8 at least half would be from ‘poorer’ countries would suggest that we have in soccer something of a more equitable arrangement in the sport.

(by the way: you can also put an additional referee as done in the Europa League)

None of this changes the fact that Germany was better.

37

ejh 06.28.10 at 12:24 pm

Sean Ingle, who is very far from being a fool, wrote on the Guardian blog today:

double-checking contentious decisions would add seconds not minutes

This is an extraordinary thing to say. Anybody who has been at a rugby or cricket match, or seen one on TV, when replays have been used, knows that this is very often not the case. Checking can go on for a very long time indeed where it is close.

38

Ollie 06.28.10 at 12:37 pm

@36
Video refereeing would apply only to televised games. Games in England are televised all the way down to FA Vase and Blue Square level. Don’t quote me on this but I believe all FA Cup games are televised i.e. filmed.

Every other sport now uses video technology. It’s been an overwhelming success in Cricket and Rugby. Tennis has been enriched by it. Athletics was one of the first sports to benefit from it, several decades ago now.

If FIFA snuck in a video referee, sitting away from view in the TV broadcast room, I wager the public won’t even notice anything has changed about the game.

39

ajay 06.28.10 at 12:39 pm

What with the final if it is between a Premier League team and a team that has no experience with technology?

The technology here is just to make the referee better, right? It shouldn’t alter the way the game is played. I can’t think of one tactic that would work better or worse if they brought in video replay and goal line sensors (except the tactic of surreptitious fouling). Are there any?
What disadvantage is this going to bring to teams not used to the technology? Examples.

40

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 12:39 pm

(Re-iterating my wrong-dog caveat)

Micro-decision technology — which makes more sense in tennis or cricket — is a maybe bit of a red herring here. The problem isn’t very close calls that only close-up and multiple forensic replay can unravel, it’s massive blunders obvious to half the ground. Seems to me an off-pitch ref who’s watching via screens can
(i) provide instant decision-changing judging for the kinds of errors in Eng-Ger and Arg-Mex yesterday
(ii) instantly decide “too close to call w/o damaging delays”: technology will improve no one’s temper and is not an advance on a referee’s judgment in too-close-to-call*
(iii) “ok bad decision but play on” is better for the game* — the “play on” feature being one of the real strengths of football culture

*obviously “better for the game” is a huge wide open maw of a thing, but that’s also a strength

41

Ollie 06.28.10 at 12:39 pm

ejh,

Most times it will add only seconds to the game. In the Mexico v Argentina game, the referee stopped play for a couple of minutes conferring with the assistant. In that time, a video ref would have told the ref it was as clear an offisde as you’ll ever see.

42

Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 12:48 pm

@ejh To be fair, the reason it often takes a long time in rugby is because to score a try the scorer has to ground the ball and have it under control. That’s often hard to decide when loads of bodies are in a heap between the ball and the camera, and because they are often switching back and forth to see if any camera had sight of the ball at all. Bounces over the line and off-sides would (usually) be quicker to decide.

43

jake 06.28.10 at 12:50 pm

yeah, i think it should either be the job of the fourth official. he should have a booth or something with a constant video feed, and be able to instantly reply calls that are either a) contentious, b) plays that would normally affect the flow of the game, eg, a ball going dead as opposed to a tackle or shirt pull of something (which should, I think, be reviewed after the game and punished), or c) decisions that the ref cannot make and goes through a hierarchy of requests to the linesmen, and then the fourth official through the microphone if they are unsure themselves. Obviously the Mexicans saw the video replay on the big screen and so did the linesman, which would have made him question his decision. he probably was about to buckle, had it not been for rosatti telling all them mexicans to go away. but the good thing that came from this is that there were visible signs of reconsideration and deliberation after the goal was awarded, albeit from angry protests. I think the fourth official should be the response to this sort of thing – integrate the video technology with his job. He does nothing all game apart from hold a sign up – at most, 6 times a game, and tells the angry coaches to sit down – which is pointless. If the video technology is not integrated into his job, then their should be permanent linesmen on the goal line, like in tennis. I never saw how it turned out in the Champions league, or Europa games when they tested it, but I heard there was controversy.
At the end of the day, if it is to be implemented, there need to be checks and balances on its use, as I was hinting to before, such as only to be used on decisions such as goal line crossings, or at least if play is stopped as a consequence.
As for the WC, Germany have been the only consistent team who will look like they can go the whole way. Netherlands to me just don’t seem as dynamic and solid, the Argentinians look fantastic, but put em on the back foot, which Mexico did, and they suddenly find themselves with an open defence. One of our commentators in Australia said that it was liberating for the Germans not to have Ballack in the squad – now they are able to play a free flowing game, and back it up with strength, skill and most importantly – a team based world cup winning mentatlity

44

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 12:50 pm

I would explicitly require this off-pitch judge to be allowed to rule (reliably quickly) “will take damagingly long to investigate HENCE too close to call HENCE on-pitch call stands”

45

ejh 06.28.10 at 12:53 pm

How many seconds? The game has to be stopped, the review signalled, the replays looked at, the decision communicated to the referee, the players and crowd informed (and the subsequent scrum broken up). How long’s that going to take? Wingbeat of a hummingbird? How long does it take now, in sports where it’s used?

46

ejh 06.28.10 at 12:56 pm

off-sides would (usually) be quicker to decide

I doubt if you could decide any close offside without several runs through slo-mo.

47

Ollie 06.28.10 at 1:04 pm

ejh,

A review won’t have to be signalled. It’d be as simple as the video ref positively saying; “Thierry Henry handled the ball”. As Belle Le Triste suggests, it won’t be used for deciding whether the ball had gone into touch for a throw-in. It’d be used to see glaring errors that the ref might have missed that are easily visible in slow-mo. Wrongly adjudicated but close offside decisions are not the target. Those are hardly ever controversial. The problem is judging the clear issues which the officials miss.

Of course there would be times when the referee would stop play for “more than a few seconds” to make a decision. But such times occur frequently enough in football already.

The goal is not to supplant the referee’s decision making but to give him more information to base decisions on.

48

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 1:32 pm

@38: Cricket and Rugby, real world sports that are. What happens when somebody is overruled or a challenge called? Do you really think that interrupts will not impact concentration? I don’t. And I don’t think a ‘secret’ judge that has access to a shitty television feed would make things so much better.

And as far as tennis being enriched by it? It’s becoming an element of the sport to say ‘challenge’ at times it will most interrupt the adversary’s concentration.

(but I admit: I’m just being the contrarian here)

49

novakant 06.28.10 at 1:35 pm

All of this is beside the point: the lineman simply wanted to undo the terrible injustice committed at Wembley 1966 …

50

ejh 06.28.10 at 1:40 pm

Of course there would be times when the referee would stop play for “more than a few seconds” to make a decision. But such times occur frequently enough in football already.

Not when the ball remains in play, they don’t.

A review won’t have to be signalled.

Uh-huh. So the ball bounces down off the bar, the keeper collects, he throws he ball downfield, the winger picks it up and gets a cross in, the forward gets his head to it and goal! But hang on, he was suspiciously clear there, was he offside?

It’s going to be chaos, isn’t it?

Wrongly adjudicated but close offside decisions are not the target. Those are hardly ever controversial

What? What are you talking about?

Wrongly adjudicated but close offside decisions are not the target. Those are hardly ever controversial. The problem is judging the clear issues which the officials miss.

And tell me, how are you going to distinguish between close decision on which no ruling is required, and clear errors which need to be corrected?

51

GP 06.28.10 at 1:48 pm

The coveted Ace Ventura and Señor Chang accolades are already being awarded over at my blog. Both focus on World Cup excellency. As for technology I think it should be used for all plays and calls changed on the spot if they prove the ref to be wrong. Plus they should encompass everything, from foul play to off sides. Isn´t fairness and merit more important than any silly romantic notion Fifa holds concerning the game and human error.
I don´t know who will win but I bet Spain chokes, once again.

52

ejh 06.28.10 at 1:49 pm

You mean like they did in their previous major tournament?

53

Ollie 06.28.10 at 1:54 pm

@47

My mention of Rugby and Cricket was within an English context. As you mentioned the FA Cup, I assumed you were English and knew the about the debates that had gone on before video technology was adopted by those sports.

Take your choice of world sports. I’d argue that, apart from football, the one truly global sport is athletics (or track and field). That’s the one sport played in virtually every country on earth apart from football. Video technology has been used to very good effect for the good of the game, despite the fact that the 100 M final at the Vanuatu regional athletics championship won’t be decided by photo finish.

I agree that being able to choose when to challenge has added another edge to Tennis, but I don’t think anyone would argue that it’s had any kind of significant adverse effect on the playing experience or the viewing experience, or even on the officiating experience.

Football is a sport in which the overwhelming percentage of referee decisions (I’d guess at least 98%) are judged correctly. What causes angst is the tiny number of cases, which occur maybe every 3 games, in which a glaringly wrong decision is made which affects the outcome of the game.

The vast majority of decisions referees would be confronted with would not require any video input to decision making.

54

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 1:57 pm

… and most of the Champion Leagues of the past decade(s). I guess what England misses most of all is a lot of Spanish ‘whimpy’ soccer players.

55

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 2:00 pm

53 was supposed to follow 51.

@52: and that’s it, you assume all of us our English and most of us aren’t and a majority of those who aren’t know that soccer is unrivaled as THE world team sport. Athletics is not a team sport, and situations as ejh pointed out are …. well …. unlikely to occur. I mean in the 20km speedwalk it is not like you don’t have time to make the decision.

56

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 2:00 pm

how are you going to distinguish between close decision on which no ruling is required, and clear errors which need to be corrected?

By judging in advance how long it will take to make a techology-assisted “correct” ruling. If more than [x] seconds, where [x] marks the balance point between routine (non-interruptive) stoppage and flow-damaging stoppage. (Tennis and cricket both have “secret” judges, don’t they? That is, off-pitch arbiters who can be called on in certain circumstances.)

There isn’t a method by which judgment or rulings are going to be removed.

Showing replays on giant screens when there ISN’T going to technology-assisted reffing is by some distance the worst of both worlds: I don’t feel Mexico’s (justified) mass protests yesterday actually did their concentration much good…

57

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 2:27 pm

That last para — about Mexico’s protests — is a response to ajay: a team relatively unused to public broadcasts of recent play is likely to be a lot more distracted by it

58

Alex 06.28.10 at 2:37 pm

Rugby League replay decisions are often quite subjective; what is “downward pressure and control” other than “I know it when I see it”? How do you decide between “he deliberately got in the non-ball carrier’s way – obstruction, and possibly a penalty try” and “he didn’t get out of the non-ball carrier’s way, but then again he doesn’t have to according to the book, so play on”?

“Did the ball cross the line?” is a lot easier to implement in software.

59

Kieran Healy 06.28.10 at 2:38 pm

A system where coaches get three decision challenges per game, and where they lose a substitution if a challenge is decided against them, seems reasonable to me.

60

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 2:44 pm

A system where the England coach gets to release three lions per game would increase the current entertainment value of England games, if not their match-win chances. (As players from other lands would be taught, you don’t need to faster than the lion, you only need to be faster than Terry, Hesketh, etc…)

61

belle le triste 06.28.10 at 2:47 pm

(Hesketh? Heskey)

62

sg 06.28.10 at 2:54 pm

a system of post-match bookings based on protests made on video footage, limited to fouls behind play, diving, and assaults, would serve to significantly reduce the single biggest blights on the game.

The issue of goals being misread (and of some fouls behind play) could be solved by chucking an extra assistant ref at each end whose soul job is to adjudicate goals and corners. Given that refs cost 1/50th of a decent player, they can afford a few more.

63

Ray 06.28.10 at 2:59 pm

A system where coaches get three decision challenges per game, and where they lose a substitution if a challenge is decided against them, seems reasonable to me.

I don’t like the idea of the coach (coach? _manager_) getting to interfere in the running of the game.
And besides, if a team uses up their three appeals (even on three decisions changed to be in their favour!) and then get another bad decision against them… what do we change it to? unlimited appeals? get another appeal if you win one? or are we back to ‘tough luck’?

64

Ollie 06.28.10 at 3:05 pm

ejh,

You asked how we’d know if a decision was glaring? Well I’m hoping they’d be em, glaring?

Think of the video ref as the ref’s invisible friend who tells him secrets. His job would be to say; “so-and-so player just kicked the opposition keeper in the nuts”.

It’s all about giving referees more information. No more, no less.

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Chris Bertram 06.28.10 at 3:43 pm

Great New York Post headline:

http://twitpic.com/20obok

66

Earnest O'Nest 06.28.10 at 3:58 pm

Great comments, more like.

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Sebastian 06.28.10 at 4:00 pm

“What with the final if it is between a Premier League team and a team that has no experience with technology?”

What kind of experience do you think would be necessary? Everyone knows you aren’t supposed to hand of God the ball. Are you concerned they won’t know how to dive properly with cameras?

Is there some specific kind of rule that players without access to technological refereeing will be disadvantaged under?

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Kieran Healy 06.28.10 at 4:09 pm

On mature reflection I think a fifth “Voice of the People” official should be in place to overrule calls as needed. I’m thinking someone like Gazza.

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mollymooly 06.28.10 at 4:13 pm

@39:

I can’t think of one tactic that would work better or worse if they brought in video replay and goal line sensors (except the tactic of surreptitious fouling). Are there any?
What disadvantage is this going to bring to teams not used to the technology? Examples.

I can imagine that if you had dozens of cameras picking up every push and tug in the box during a free kick, a team unused to that degree of scrutiny would give up a foul every time. But I don’t think anyone is advocating that level of TV interference.

@62:

I don’t like the idea of the coach (coach? manager) getting to interfere in the running of the game.

OK, how about the captain? (Sorry, I meant “skipper”.)

And besides, if a team uses up their three appeals (even on three decisions changed to be in their favour!) and then get another bad decision against them… what do we change it to? unlimited appeals? get another appeal if you win one? or are we back to ‘tough luck’?

Aren’t there already sports where you get another appeal, or rather keep your previous right of appeal, if you win one? The downside is teams with all their appeals left will use them late on just cos they can. But then again the ref might be able to book the captain for unsporting conduct if it’s an obvious timewasting tactic. Depending on the rarity of the type of event for which appeals would apply, one or two appeals per match might be a reasonable quota.

A separate question is when would the appeal be made or actioned; is it at the next dead ball? If not, how will the game be restarted (after an unsuccessful appeal)?

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Brian 06.28.10 at 4:26 pm

I say let’s not worry about the cameras until they can all be wirelessly networked straight into the neural network of the A.I. robotic official. Then the ref really will see everything, and from multiple angles at once.

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chris 06.28.10 at 4:26 pm

I can imagine that if you had dozens of cameras picking up every push and tug in the box during a free kick, a team unused to that degree of scrutiny would give up a foul every time.

Doesn’t this amount to saying that it’s terribly unfair to enforce the rules against that team, because they are so used to getting away with breaking them?

If most pushes and tugs are not fouls, then they wouldn’t be called as such, cameras or no cameras. If they *are* fouls, then what importance should be attached to some teams’ expectation of profiting by the referees’ incompetence and/or limited field of vision?

Establishing a consistent standard of strictness of officiating is important, certainly, but ISTM that it interacts only incidentally with technology questions. “Anything goes as long as the official’s back is turned” is not actually a rule.

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Aldous 06.28.10 at 4:27 pm

One argument about video replay that I haven’t seen made very often, but I think is a decent point, is that it would be biased in one direction. (This argument doesn’t include goal-line technology, for which I can’t see decent arguments against implementation at the highest level, nor to post-game review of cautions and suspensions).

For decisions that benefit the defense (offside calls, offensive fouls and handballs, etc.) it is impossible to use video review to reverse a decision that is made, because play has already been stopped. You can’t very well say “oh, well, it turns out Heskey wasn’t twenty yards offside; give him the ball back in front of the goal mouth”. Play has already been blown dead.

On the other hand, such calls can readily be inserted by video review – goals can be called back upon review. But they can’t be awarded retroactively.

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Kieran Healy 06.28.10 at 4:33 pm

Counterfactual football!

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ejh 06.28.10 at 4:38 pm

Football is a sport in which the overwhelming percentage of referee decisions (I’d guess at least 98%) are judged correctly.

….a referee writes.

I’m a fan, which is why I know that close offside decisions are not remotely non-controversial, and also why I reckon that the comment above is manifest nonsense.

Football is full of incorrect decisions. It’s also a game of flow. It’s also, partly because of the latter and despite – or because of – the former quality, the most popular (and quite likely the best) game in the world. It has no challenger whatsoever in this respect. It has not only survived but prospered for 138 years since the first international was played. It is not in some sort of crisis requiring video replays, or post-match sanctions against divers and cheats, or systems of challenges, or points for goals, or any of the rest of it.

Henry scored with his hand. So what. Lampard’s goal was ruled out. So what. Tevez was offside. So what. That’s the game, and to my mind this sort of thing adds to that game as much as it detracts from it. So are we really to make changes that would genuinely damage the flow and fabric of the game because of it? No thanks. I’d rather the game kept going, and we can all shout at the referee.

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y81 06.28.10 at 5:07 pm

Certainly it will be Argentina if there is a God (or, at least, if God is an aesthete). I have loved them since that 27? pass goal in 2006. They are to soccer what Sappho is to Greek.

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Bloix 06.28.10 at 5:19 pm

“Henry scored with his hand. So what. “
So he cheated. He’s a fraud. France’s place in the tournament was a fraud. Watching cheaters cheat each other – that’s the “sort of thing that adds to the game”? You think it’s a good thing that the game rewards cheating?

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nick s 06.28.10 at 5:21 pm

Video refereeing would apply only to televised games.

Televised to what degree? The single mounted camera of a lower-league team, the multi-camera setup of a typical Sky live match, or the panopticon of a World Cup broadcast?

One of Blatter’s more tolerable arguments is that World Cup qualification extends to matches in South Pacific micronations with attendances to rival the Scottish Third Division, and while you can make distinctions between the finals and the qualifiers, you’re still left talking about the Henry handball in the playoff.

Showing replays on giant screens when there ISN’T going to technology-assisted reffing is by some distance the worst of both worlds

FIFA has decided to stop showing replays in the stadium, which is the kind of arse-coverage we’ve come to expect from them.

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ejh 06.28.10 at 5:26 pm

Watching cheaters cheat each other – that’s the “sort of thing that adds to the game”?

It depends whether you’re expecting a drama, or a lesson in ethics.

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ejh 06.28.10 at 6:04 pm

Anyway, I’m off to settle in for Brazil v Chile. Chile have an interesting manager, from a leftist political family, though his preference for Newell’s Old Boys, the posher (I believe) of Rosario’s two major sides.

Interesting name he has. Bielsa is a small town in Huesca province in Spain, where I live, and many people here are named after their pueblo of origin. I wonder if his antecedents are here – and if so, when his family left? Many people left the region to setttle in Argentina before the Guerra Civil – and some of them during it, when Bielsa was the escape route, the Bag of Bielsa, for people fleeing the Fascist advance across Aragon in 1938.

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ECW 06.28.10 at 6:36 pm

Goal review needn’t interrupt the course of play. In the National Hockey League disallowed goals are reviewed while play continues. If it turns out the goal should have been allowed, then at the next break in play the decision is communicated to the referee, the goal added to the score, and play begins again from the time of the original goal. That way if the call was correct play continues uninterrupted and if the goal should have been signaled play returns, as it should have. to that moment. No reason football couldn’t adopt similar rules for televised games.

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Zamfir 06.28.10 at 6:49 pm

ECW, what happens if there is another goal?

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ECW 06.28.10 at 6:57 pm

If there’s another goal scored it doesn’t count. The rule is that if the original goal was good, play should have stopped at that point, so nothing that follows counts and the clock is reset.

But if the original call of no goal was correct, then the following goal in the run of play isn’t prevented, as it would be if play were stopped artificially for a review.

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BenSix 06.28.10 at 7:06 pm

It depends whether you’re expecting a drama, or a lesson in ethics.

I have to admit that the sense of justice that seared through me as Lampard was disallowed is mysteriously absent when I remember that Kasprowicz was, in fact, not out at Edgebaston.

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ejh 06.28.10 at 7:29 pm

No reason football couldn’t adopt similar rules for televised games.

Well, there’s lots of reasons of course, because ice hockey isn’t association football. The number of goals habitually scored is rather different and the number of disallowed goals, similarly. I very much doubt whether there’s any interest, among people who actually watch and play the game regularly, in having goals suddenly added to the score because somebody in a TV studio has decide they should have been given, or goals that have been legitimately scored suddenly chalked off because some earlier goal wasn’t given and should have been.

I really wish that before people say “well, it works in such-and-such a sport” they would reflect a bit more on whether and how much such-and-such a sport might be different, not just in the way it works but in its culture and traditions.

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ECW 06.28.10 at 7:43 pm

I played, and still play, association football. I think the NHL system is a good compromise for football as well. How often would another goal be scored before there is a stoppage for a free-kick or throw-in or corner? Rarely or never given how rare goals are already. Look at the England game: there was a stoppage fairly quickly after Lompard’s goal. At that stoppage the official would have been informed that the goal counted and the game would restart at that point. No need to reset the clock as is done in hockey, since the referee could just add the time to be replayed to injury time.

Is that really worse than missing a clear goal that completely changes the run of play? I know I play a lot differently down a goal in an elimination game than I do tied.

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ECW 06.28.10 at 7:49 pm

And it’s a serious question, appropriate for CT commenters, whether “goals that have been legitimately scored suddenly chalked off because some earlier goal wasn’t given and should have been” are, in fact, LEGITIMATE goals. To at least some degree any goal is a product of the dynamic of the match at the point it is scored, as anyone who plays the game knows. A goal scored after a legitimate goal is disallowed is to some degree implicated in the illegitimate ruling on the initial goal. I’d rather risk the vanishingly rare possibility that a goal will follow prior to a stoppage and be disallowed, a possibility that I’m not convinced is even a problem if it does tale place given the illegitimacy of the course of play following such a mistake, in order to get the legitimate goal posted.

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chris 06.28.10 at 7:57 pm

I very much doubt whether there’s any interest, among people who actually watch and play the game regularly, in having goals suddenly added to the score because somebody in a TV studio has decide they should have been given

I think “suddenly added” is a bit much — the entire audience, both TV and live, saw the previous goal scored before it was disallowed in the first place. Ruling it legitimate wouldn’t exactly be a bolt from the blue.

Practically, the alternative is that the broadcasters and fans adopt the technology and the referees don’t, and then the refs are not just wrong, but *obstinately* wrong in front of God and everybody. There is no turning back the clock to when nobody could really be sure whether that call was right or wrong. The truth will come out, the only question is whether it will be heeded when it does.

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Walt 06.28.10 at 9:05 pm

ejh: Are you serious? I know lots of obsessive football fans, and they are almost unanimously in favor of something like the NHL system. And these are people who could give a shit about hockey (and didn’t know that the NHL had such a system until I told them.) 50% of all World Cup conversations I’ve heard have been bitching about the refs screwing up goal/non-goal calls. But of course only you understand the true essence of association football.

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Phil 06.28.10 at 9:11 pm

The truth will come out, the only question is whether it will be heeded when it does.

But that question already has a definitive and unambiguous answer, which is No. The ref giveth and the ref taketh away. That’s how the game is.

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Trey 06.28.10 at 9:16 pm

Kieran Healy 06.28.10 at 4:09 pm
On mature reflection I think a fifth “Voice of the People” official should be in place to overrule calls as needed. I’m thinking someone like Gazza.

I can’t even begin to express how much I would support this.

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ejh 06.28.10 at 10:13 pm

50% of all World Cup conversations I’ve heard have been bitching about the refs screwing up goal/non-goal calls

No doubt. And yet in the nearly thirry years I’ve been attending professional football matches, and in the many thousands of conversations and discussions I’ve had with other fans in that time, a grand total of0% of people have expressed the opinion that goals given should be late disallowed, or goals disallowed should be later given.

But they’re only the people that have spent their lives going to games. What do they know? I mean, compared to people who see a few games in the World Cup and decide that the whole game needs turning over?

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ejh 06.28.10 at 10:23 pm

I think “suddenly added” is a bit much—the entire audience, both TV and live, saw the previous goal scored before it was disallowed in the first place. Ruling it legitimate wouldn’t exactly be a bolt from the blue.

Christ.

No, they didn’t. In most instances, the truth isn’t at all clear to people who are actually at the game. It’s not even clear to people watching on telly until you’ve had a few replays, and even then a unanimity of opinion is rare. Was it a penalty to Brazil at 0-0 tonight? The commentators on my Spanish channel said yes, “clarisimo”: in England they were apparently praising Howard Webb. That’s normal. You think every disallowed goal is as clear as Frank Lampard’s?

But people who go to a lot of games understand this, and that’s why this:

That question already has a definitive and unambiguous answer, which is No. The ref giveth and the ref taketh away. That’s how the game is.

is true, and understood. No bastard wants “oh by the way, you thought it was 2-1 to Leyton Orient but actually it’s 2-1 to Barnet because we’ve just disallowed one goal and allowed an earlier one”. Because nobody who loves the game thinks it’s shit enough to be messed about with in that way.

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stostosto 06.28.10 at 10:38 pm

I am with ejh.

I also think it’s incredible that Lampard’s goal wasn’t allowed. Everybody at the TV set I was at called it correctly as did the commentator. Right away, instantly, i.e. before the replay. And as my 10 year old nephew said “When the ball hits the bar twice, it’s alwyas in”. Which is true, and basic knowledge to anyone who follows the game. (Because of the backspin the ball gets when hitting the bar the first time around). Why a World Cup referee and his linesman don ‘t know this is beyond me.

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Walt 06.28.10 at 10:48 pm

ejh, why are you being such an ass about this? Why do you think I’m referring to people who’ve just watched a few games on TV? I’m talking about people who live and breathe football, and have since they were small children.

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Ollie 06.28.10 at 11:32 pm

I know the case for video replays is not open-and-shut. But I find most of the pro arguments extremely strange.

Nobody argues against DNA evidence in the trial of murder suspects because one tiny county in Idaho might not be able to afford it.

If video replays improve refereeing by 0.0001% it’d still be a big improvement to the game.

Colour me imaginative but I can think of many many ways to implement video assistance to refs without affecting flow or process of the game.

If you surveyed referees, I reckon an overwhelming majority say *pulls number out of ample rearend* 90% would be completely enthusiastic about video assistance. I hate to quote refs, I get annoyed when people quote what police officers for example would choose in a policy debate, as if to say that trumps other considerations. However, it’s important to point out that the only consistuency in Association Football which opposes video assistance to referees is the IFAB.

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Substance McGravitas 06.29.10 at 12:06 am

Colour me imaginative but I can think of many many ways to implement video assistance to refs without affecting flow or process of the game.

Referees should be required to wear a device that completely covers their heads, much like the Ettinauer 226XL . Video can be supplied by helmet-mounted lenses or external cameras. Audio will come from parabolic microphones following a radar emitting ball and from mildly censored feeds from each bench and the other referees. Referees will be mounted on Segways for faster transit up and down the field. Yellow cards will be administered through a small low-powered taser lead, red cards via a pole-mounted noose attached to the referee’s vehicle. Also there is ESP involved somehow.

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BillCinSD 06.29.10 at 12:06 am

In general, I think video review is pointless in soccer since the laws of the game are pretty specific that all calls are in the opinion of the referee and that these calls are final, excepting, at his discretion, input from the other match referees. I think straying too far away from this leads to very tentative refereeing and generally making calls such that they can be reviewed “to get them right” rather than making the right call in the first place.

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y81 06.29.10 at 12:07 am

I am curious that no one explores any other possibilities than video replay for improving the officiating, especially in World Cup play. For instance, the NHL switched from one referee to two some 20 years ago. (There are also two linesmen, similar to ARs in soccer.) Also American college and high school soccer use two referees (normally without ARs.) Why not, in higher level games, two on-field referees and two ARs? (The mirror of how, in really low-level games, there is only one referee, with club linesmen who call only out-of-bounds, not offsides.) As another analogy, MLB uses six umpires for the post-season, instead of the usual four: they are stationed down the foul lines. So why not add two more referees in World Cup competition, who remain relatively stationary near the goals, but on the opposite side of the goal mouth from the referee(s)?

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Bloix 06.29.10 at 12:10 am

ejh doesn’t really like to watch soccer. What he likes to watch is the arbitrary exercise of authority. Anything that would make the game more of a contest of skill, and less of a series of bonehead errors by petty dictators, would reduce his pleasure.

100

flubber 06.29.10 at 12:10 am

“0% of people have expressed the opinion that goals given should be later disallowed, or goals disallowed should be later given.”

What about the “chips implanted in the ball” technology to signal to the refs a score when it crosses the magnetic boundary? IOW, if the decision could be made instantaneously?

I agree that an instant replay with review would be problematic (with the most difficult application of replay to review penalties/flops which lead to kicks). But what if the fix was instant and limited to goal line judgments?

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PHB 06.29.10 at 1:54 am

The arguments against video-refs in football is pretty much the same argument that is made against recording police interviews in the US, which is to say there really is absolutely no good reason at all.

Certain people in authority feel threatened any time that their omniscience might be threatened by technology. What could be more important to the FBI than being able to prove beyond any doubt what was actually said in an interview?

Think what you like about the nincompoops running FIFA, at least they are not running anything of real consequence.

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dana 06.29.10 at 2:36 am

The comparison with hockey is actually very good. Both games are games that are relatively low scoring and games where flow is important because there aren’t many scoring chances.

If the video review were adopted in a manner similar to the NHL, I think it would work well. In the NHL, most of the time the question is whether the net was off its moorings before the puck crossed the line, and that can be a difficult decision sometimes because the timing is crucial. In soccer, the only question is whether the ball crossed the line, or maybe whether someone was off-sides if we want to go there and that’s surely the kind of thing that can be reviewed whilst the players are running around with their arms out like airplane wings and getting dogpiled by their teammates or chewing out the ref.

There’s already a tradition of adding extra time onto the clock. It’s not like the clock would have to be stopped any more than it has to be stopped to treat injuries.

But say that technological solutions are impossible, and reviews are out. Why not add a goal linesman? (The NHL used this before video replays.) He can signal with a flag that the ball crossed the line, and the head ref can decide whether that instance of the ball crossing the line was a legitimate goal. No appeal, no stoppage, just someone whose job it is to have an eye on the line.

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sg 06.29.10 at 3:04 am

y81, I suggested having more linesmen, and giving them more power to interrupt the game for behind-play skullduggery.

ejh, how about a system like the one used in Rugby for governing tries scored from forward passes? In that system, if there is any doubt in the referees mind that there was a forward pass in the immediate lead-up to the try, he calls on the video referee.

You could do the same in soccer after a goal is scored; if the players appeal or the referee is not sure about an offside or handball error, after the goal is scored he calls up the video ref, who checks and confirms/disallows the goal. The video decisions could be restricted entirely to when a goal is scored, which would limit the number of stoppages.

In my experience this adds to the drama of rugby matches, with the replay going over it from multiple angles and everyone able to relive the moment. It certainly doesn’t slow them down much, even when lots of tries are being scored.

Can you come up with a good argument for why this would be so much worse in soccer than rugby? Rugby has more scores and more dubious calls (due to ball grounding) than soccer but the games remaining exciting and fluid regardless of this process. They also have a good system of post-match adjudication of dangerous play which would be a really useful way to reduce the worst excesses of diving and intimidation if it were transferred to soccer and makes no difference to the flow of play.

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Keir 06.29.10 at 3:14 am

A system where coaches get three decision challenges per game, and where they lose a substitution if a challenge is decided against them, seems reasonable to me.

Dear god. So, goal mouth scramble, it’s horribly messy, the ball stotters around the line, defender gets a foot on it and hoofs it up to the lone striker who turns and brings it down in the middle of the opposition half in acres of space, with keeper looking shaky — and then the opposition asks if we could see if that was a goal please, mr. replay man? In most sports with replays, the question is not `shall we stop play?’ it is `having -already- stopped play, was that a goal?’. There has to be some way of determining if play should be stopped very very quickly.

The idea of awarding goals after play has gone is so laughably against the spirit of football it’s just painful. In football, like Iranian poetry, once something has happened, it’s happened, and not all thy piety nor wit can do anything, and tears aren’t much cop either. Advantage isn’t even pulled back.

(So. Goal not awarded, and one side is one nil down with fifteen minutes to go and needs a draw to stay up. Manager pulls off a defender and puts young striker on. Then the goals awarded a minute later. Does the defender stay off? etc etc.)

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Keir 06.29.10 at 3:21 am

Also, rugby is not a fluid game compared to football; it stops a lot.

(There is almost no case where a try might have been scored, but play hasn’t stopped.)

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sg 06.29.10 at 4:06 am

hence my suggestion that video refs only be used when a goal has been scored, i.e. the ball is in the net, to check for handballs/offsides, where necessary. Also, I would suggest they should be mandatory when a referee awards a penalty, with the video ref particularly required to look for diving, and any player who dives to earn a pk then being given a yellow card, and post-match disciplining.

The thing that ruins soccer is not the very rare occasion when a ball goes in and comes out and isn’t awarded as a goal, but the very very common occasion where the Italians certain teams win games by pulling PKs, and/or by handballing in the strike area. Cleaning up that area of the game wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the England-Germany match but it would certainly have changed the outcome of Italy’s group, sending NZ through in place of Slovakia (or forcing a goal-difference decision), and would have allowed some other European team into the competition in place of France.

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sg 06.29.10 at 4:07 am

I also think that in the case of Lampard’s non-goal, the referee should be obliged to give the benefit to the attacking team, which is the default position in rugby, and award the goal on that basis.

Also snipers to deal with people who dive after the video ref’s decision would probably clean things up a tad as well.

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Keir 06.29.10 at 4:45 am

But that alters the balance of play considerably, and would be quite a change to the game. The thing is, the rules of football work quite well at the moment, and it would be very easy to muck them up — see `golden goal’ for example.

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Bloix 06.29.10 at 4:52 am

“the rules of football work quite well at the moment”

No, actually, they don’t. They encourage cheating. Before video replay, when the spectators couldn’t see the cheating, it didn’t much matter that the players were cheaters and frauds, but now it does matter, because we can all see it, over and over again. And all these crap about the “flow” doesn’t change the fact that the game rewards cheats and makes chumps out of honest players.

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sg 06.29.10 at 4:55 am

How does it alter the balance of play? (I’ll grant you the snipers do, but in a good way).

It means that after a goal is scored, there’s a 30 second break instead of a 10 second break, and a goal kick instead of a kickoff, if the goal is disallowed. It won’t take more than 10 seconds to review the majority of dubious goals for offside and handball, particularly if you use the “favour the attacking side” rule when in doubt. It’s not like rugby where your video replay has to untangle a mass of bodies and has to check for control of the ball AND grounding. I’ve never seen a soccer replay where the facts of the matter weren’t easily visible – offside, for example, if it can be ruled on in a split-second by an assistant ref, can be ruled on in a matter of seconds by a video ref.

With PKs, there’s always a long faff before the thing happens, so why not make that faff productive, by checking for diving? Diving is the single – I would say the only – significant problem with soccer, and it will never be stamped out until players are shown that their actions won’t win them the game, and will lose them playing time. The Italian penalty against NZ was a shocking piece of showmanship, and a 3 second video replay would have had that player yellow carded and up for a disciplinary act of the most heinous kind (one hopes; if he survived the sniper, which one could only hope he wouldn’t).

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Keir 06.29.10 at 5:13 am

It alters the balance of play by making any attacking sin a lost goal, while doing nothing to penalise defenders who commit cynical professional fouls.

The Italian penalty against NZ was entirely legit. NZ committed a foul in the penalty area and gave away a penalty, exactly the way it’s supposed to work. Going to video wouldn’t help, because there’s no reason that wasn’t a penalty.

This is the problem with video refs. They can be quick and get the easy things right, or they can be slow and get the hard things right. They can’t do both. Diving is often hard. Offside can be hard. Goal mouth scrambles are hard. Slowing the game down and introducing stoppages into play for this just isn’t worth it, quite aside from the universality arguments.

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sg 06.29.10 at 5:20 am

You’re arguing against improved methods of catching diving using TV, while arguing that using TV would not punish defenders who commit professional fouls.

Then you say

This is the problem with video refs. They can be quick and get the easy things right, or they can be slow and get the hard things right

but this is the problem with actual refs, who only do the former. If you introduce video refs for key decisions, you will get the easy and the hard things right when it matters.

Your comments about the Italy penalty make the case exactly. It’s dubious to claim that the NZ player was doing any more than pulling on an Italian shirt, which everyone in the area does all the time; the referee didn’t see it until the Italian player went skidding off the ground, squealing and wailing and holding his (tiny) balls. A dive is a dive is a dive, if you weren’t pulled over you don’t get to dive; diving – even in the area, even if you were touched by a scary Kiwi – is still diving.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 5:52 am

The thing that ruins soccer

Bong! And at this point, you explain why your argument doesn’t make sense. Because football isn’t “ruined”. It is, as pointed out above, the most poular game in the world by a country mile.

Some people don’t like it: that’s their privilege . Some people think there’s too much cheating: that’s their privilege too. But that being so, why don’t they exercise their privilege to turn their eyes away from this awful, ruined, morally repugnant spectacle?

So hurrah for Keir, above

The idea of awarding goals after play has gone is so laughably against the spirit of football it’s just painful. In football, like Iranian poetry, once something has happened, it’s happened, and not all thy piety nor wit can do anything, and tears aren’t much cop either. Advantage isn’t even pulled back.

who understands the game. People who don’t, who think you can retrospectively allow or disallow goals, or think that it wouldn’t matter if the game got held up to check decisions all the time, or who think that close decisions can be made in ten seconds – when we’re still arguing about many of them years after the fact – look, it’s one of the byproducts of a World Cup that every four years, we have to be told how our game needs fixing.

But it doesn’t. Ta very much.

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john b 06.29.10 at 5:55 am

SG: I think you might be at risk of falling into the same trap I sometimes fall into – that is, of saying “if soccer were more like rugby, it’d be better”.

Yes, I think it’s crazy that in a context where one man pulls on another’s shirt, and the second man throws himself melodramatically to the floor as if pole-axed, the first man is the one who’s penalised. But the rules of soccer say that pulling on someone’s shirt in the penalty area is a foul, and that a foul in the penalty area gives the attacking team a penalty.

If soccer were to bring its concept of a foul closer to rugby’s concept, that would be a very different change from merely introducing video refs to enforce the existing rules. It’d be creating a different game. And while you or I might think it’d be a better game, the fact that soccer with its current rules is by far the world’s most popular sport suggests that our opinion might be in a minority…

115

john b 06.29.10 at 5:57 am

Alternatively, “what Justin said before our posts crossed”.

116

Keir 06.29.10 at 6:10 am

It’s dubious to claim that the NZ player was doing any more than pulling on an Italian shirt, which everyone in the area does all the time; the referee didn’t see it until the Italian player went skidding off the ground, squealing and wailing and holding his (tiny) balls.

Pulling shirts is a foul. It doesn’t get penalised because the ref exercises discretion, & it doesn’t matter if the ref didn’t see it until the Italian fell over. If you get fouled and make sure the ref knows, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Also, Bloix, we’ve filmed football since the turn of the century. We’ve had video replay for fifty odd years. Football is still doing quite well for itself thank you very much no matter.

117

ejh 06.29.10 at 6:10 am

So this doesn’t really matter, because you see it’s about rugby, not football:

in my experience this adds to the drama of rugby matches, with the replay going over it from multiple angles and everyone able to relive the moment. It certainly doesn’t slow them down much, even when lots of tries are being scored.

but for what it’s worth – I don’t like it much. I used to go to rugby league matches at Griffin Park, and when the game was live on TV, they’d have video replays. (This tells you something, by the way: they’re for the benefit of TV viewers, not people at the game.) It didn’t take ten seconds to decide things: it very often took a couple of minutes. It very often didn’t decide things definitively: decisions remained controversial. It wasn’t used rarely: it might be needed five or six times in a game. The idea of quick, definitive and rarely-used recourse to video is a fantasy.

So I much preferred it when there weren’t cameras, and you didn’t have to wit around all the time while somebody in a studio made a decision.

But…if league fans like that system, then that system they shall have. And if football fans like video replay, then video replay they shall have. There’s a case for it, it has its supporters, and no doubt it will be tried out sooner or later. But retrospective changes in the scoreline? Don’t make me laugh. It’s a simple game, that’s half its appeal. And you can’t have a simple game where you don’t even know the bloody score.

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sg 06.29.10 at 6:13 am

well sorry, ejh, not “ruined,” then, but “spoiled.” The thing that spoils soccer is the diving, and I think it’s silly to hold your hands in the air and say “we can’t fix that.” Just as soccer fans look the other way from soccer players’ filthy disrespect for the referee, that could so easily be dealt with by a few red cards at the beginning of a world cup.

I don’t think arguing that the game is the most popular in the world is the same as arguing that it’s perfect; that people love these games despite their flaws doesn’t mean we can’t try and fix the flaws, particularly when they are so blatant.

I really don’t think my suggestion is going to lead to many stoppages, either. In the Germany-England game it would have led to precisely 0; in the Slovakia-Italy game, again, 0 (1 if you allow egregious assaults on goalkeepers to be video-reffed); in the Italy-NZ game, 1. This isn’t exactly a huge disruption to the pace of a game.

Also, judging by the commentary in the main British papers, it’s a bit rich to claim that anyone who understands the game rejects video refs, and that the people favouring them are johnny-come-lately blow-ins. Admittedly, I’m not an avid soccer-watcher, but until 2006 I was a regular viewer.

john b, while it’s true that I prefer rugby (and kickboxing) to watch, I do enjoy watching soccer. My view of it has changed since I lived in Europe and witnessed the culture that surrounds the game up close – before I went to Europe I used to watch the champions league (which is free-to-air in Australia), but now I only make an effort for the World Cup. I understand the difference in refereeing style of the two games, but the idea that soccer has nothing to learn from any other sport is not really one I’m impressed by, and that seems to be the refrain of people who think that it being the most popular sport also makes it the best.

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Keir 06.29.10 at 6:20 am

I really don’t think my suggestion is going to lead to many stoppages, either. In the Germany-England game it would have led to precisely 0; in the Slovakia-Italy game, again, 0 (1 if you allow egregious assaults on goalkeepers to be video-reffed); in the Italy-NZ game, 1. This isn’t exactly a huge disruption to the pace of a game.

Two. The NZ goal was a bit suspicious as well, to be honest.

And maybe it wouldn’t cause many delays, but by your own admission it wouldn’t have fixed the glaring, glaring error of the Lampard phantom goal, which is the thing that’s driving this proposal.

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sg 06.29.10 at 6:26 am

Yeah, and the thing that’s driving that proposal is the dissatisfaction of diehard fans with the current state of refereeing, contrary to ejh’s assertion that there is nothing to see here.

The Lampard goal would have been easily fixed with a dedicated linesman, who blew the whistle on it immediately and stopped play. No video ref, split-second decision, goal awarded.

Even allowing the possibility of a dubious NZ score (what is this, rugby commentary?!), you’re talking about 2 stoppages in 3 games, both stoppages at the point of a goal having been scored or a penalty taken, so not interfering with the ball in play. Nobody has stopped everyone running around and said “sorry, we just need to gaze at our navels for 10 minutes,” and in both cases the decision would have been a few seconds work, like this: a) is it an obvious dive? Not sure? Decision in favour of the attacking side. Sure? No pk, goal kick. Or b) was it obviously offside? Not sure? Decision in favour of the attacking side. Sure? Goal disallowed, goal kick.

Considering the amount of interference players willingly exert on the match by diving – rolling around, getting the opposing team to kick the ball out, springing immediately to their feet and returning to the game, throwing the ball back in to the team that had possession – it hardly seems like a big deal.

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derrida derider 06.29.10 at 6:39 am

You really do need to separate the “real time decision” issue from the “post-match review” one.

I agree, soccer is a boring enough game (all that aimless kicking it around in the midfield!) without holding it up all the time for video reviews of each decision. Given their influence on so many games maybe I’d think about an exception for penalty awards, but that’s about it. Though of course whether the ball crossed the goal line could be done with an automated system, a la tennis, that wouldn’t hold things up at all (maybe have it trigger some fireworks behind the goal to create some excitement – but I jest) .

But one of the reasons the game is boring is the histrionic diving that is as much a part of the professional’s art as actually passing the bloody ball. At top levels there should always be a post-match video review of the game, with both cynical fouls and simulation carrying suspension.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 6:43 am

that could so easily be dealt with

Bong! This one fails under the provisions of “people who claim that something could be solved easily neither stop to ask why it hasn’t been done already nor consider whether their simple solutuon might not have any consequences”.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 6:46 am

it’s a bit rich to claim that anyone who understands the game rejects video refs

Bong! This fails under “rebuttals of claims that nobody has made”.

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sg 06.29.10 at 7:14 am

Oh come on ejh, how about this:

look, it’s one of the byproducts of a World Cup that every four years, we have to be told how our game needs fixing.

You’re regularly making these niggling little assertions that the people who are calling for video refs are world cup blow-ins, and that the regulars (who understand the game) don’t see the need. Or that it’s about rugby, not soccer; or that people who claim a need for a video ref are misapplying theory from other games.

As for your claim that these things are hard to deal with – ever watched the scoring on a boxing match? Any dispute in soccer is quite literally trivial in comparison – any dispute. And in any sport, “easily” includes a fair degree of latitude on “willing to tolerate mistakes.” Even compared to rugby, soccer disputes are trivial. The disputes you claim have been “controversial for years after” are controversial not in terms of whether or not they happened. The Hand of God, the Hand of Thierry (same diff in his mind, I’m sure), Lampard’s goal… no-one disputes the facts of the matter, they dispute whether or not the decision should have been adjudicated by referee, or whether the entire outcome of the game would have been different if the goal had/hadn’t happened.

Compare this with a boxer whose bout is stopped early because the referee thought he was gonna get pasted. That’s a dispute about what actually happened, with the prime disputant usually being the brain-fucked guy in question. No-one except the boxer himself knows whether or not he was actually incapable of going on, but everyone knows that Lampard’s goal was a goal.

And really, do you think that the standard pattern of a) dive, b) kick the ball out, c) get up sprightly as the day you were born d) throw ball in to the opposition is somehow a type of interruption of the game that is tolerable in comparison to post-match video review and punishment of diving?

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ejh 06.29.10 at 7:19 am

“For a match to be really, truly memorable, the kind of game that sends you home buzzing inside with the fulfilment of it all, you require as many of the following features as possible:

(1) Goals

(2) Outrageously bad refereeing decisions

(3) A noisy crowd

(4) Rain, a greasy surface etc

(5) Opposition misses a penalty

(6) Member of opposition receives a red card

(7) Some kind of ‘disgraceful incident’ (aka ‘silliness’, aka ‘nonsense’, aka unpleasantness’)

……if I were a sportswriter or a representative of the football authorities, then no doubt I would purse my lips, make disapproving noises, insist that the transgressors be brought to justice – argy-bargy, like soft drugs, would be no fun if it were officially sanctioned. Luckily, however, I have no such responsibility: I am a fan, with no duty to toe the moral line whatsoever.”

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Phil 06.29.10 at 7:21 am

The thing that spoils soccer is the diving, and I think it’s silly to hold your hands in the air and say “we can’t fix that.”

I’ve watched about four matches in the World Cup so far, and I’ve seen any number of players rolling around on the grass simulating the tortures of the damned… for about twenty seconds, after which they realise the ref hasn’t bought it and get up again. I’m not sure what needs fixing here.

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Earnest O'Nest 06.29.10 at 7:28 am

I see ejh is carrying the flag so may I suggest anothere topic: Germany is the Old Brasil, England is the new Belgium, the New Brasil is the Old Italy, the New Holland is the Old Holland (i.e. both the New Spain without the excitement or the Old Argentina without the balls) …

Ah, soccer is just not recognizable, even the Americans are frustrated they don’t get to the final. Might as well be over and done with it: make it a competition for robot referees with 22 extras & 2 weird fellas on the side shouting and waving as if they were once a super-extra.

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sg 06.29.10 at 7:29 am

whose quote is that, ejh? It’s pretty funny. But it’s just not cricket…

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ejh 06.29.10 at 7:31 am

Oh come on ejh, how about this

Bong! Fails under the Internet Implied, i.e. preferring a supposed “implication” to the actual content.

Any dispute in soccer is quite literally trivial in comparison – any dispute.

Bong! Fails under Exaggerations For Effect Are Not Arguments.

The disputes you claim have been “controversial for years after” are controversial not in terms of whether or not they happened.

Bong! Fails under Not Knowing What One Is Talking About. Did it cross the line in 1966, then? Or in the European Cup Final, should Leeds have had a penalty?

Football is full of unresolved disputes about whether balls crossed lines, peopleshould have been sent off, penalties should have been given, fouls too place inside or outside the area.

But you don’t know this.

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sg 06.29.10 at 7:36 am

and you’re failing under the excessive use of the “Bong! I’m a prat” approach to arguing.

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john b 06.29.10 at 7:44 am

ejh: are there really people who seriously argue that the ball didn’t cross the line in the 1966 World Cup final, or that Leeds didn’t deserve a penalty in the 1973 Cup Winners Cup final? If so, their views don’t appear terribly, erm, evidence-based.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 7:49 am

are there really people who seriously argue that the ball didn’t cross the line in the 1966 World Cup final

Do you mean “did”?

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Ray 06.29.10 at 7:58 am

are there really people who seriously argue that the ball didn’t cross the line in the 1966 World Cup final

AFAIK, there are an awful lot of non-English people who very seriously argue that only some of the ball crossed the line in 1966.

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Walt 06.29.10 at 8:05 am

Oh, I see. ejh is a crazy person. My mistake.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 8:15 am

http://www.broadview.tv/en/documentary-films/2006/the-damn-third-goal-wembley-66-the-true-story.html

For 40 years it is impossible to find a camera perspective that clarifies the question of whether the ball really was over the line or not.

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Alex 06.29.10 at 8:17 am

goals that have been legitimately scored suddenly chalked off because some earlier goal wasn’t given and should have been.

….

Bong! This fails under “rebuttals of claims that nobody has made”.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 8:20 am

#82

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sg 06.29.10 at 8:23 am

ejh, under any reasonable video refereeing system, that would be no more controversial than it is now. If a simple camera angle on the line can’t identify whether the ball was in or out, benefit of doubt is given to the attacker, goal is scored. What’s the problem? Whole documentaries wouldn’t have been made, but still, who would care? The difference is that France wouldn’t have got to this world cup, and Maradona’s hand would be judged very very mortal.

And in response to your snide “Internet Implied” at 129, I give you this gem of supercilious know-it-allism from 91:

But they’re only the people that have spent their lives going to games. What do they know? I mean, compared to people who see a few games in the World Cup and decide that the whole game needs turning over?

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ejh 06.29.10 at 8:33 am

What’s the problem?

Well, there’s several problems, all of which, I think, have been adequately set out above. But do bear in mind that determining that something is unclear and that “the benefit of the doubt” applies is not an instant process, nor indeed a quick one.

(Note: in case of confusion, my view has always been that England’s third goal should not have counted. I am also pretty sure that this is the general view, but I know from experience that in England anyway, it is not universally held. I am genuinely unclear as to whether John thinks that the goal is normally held to have been legitimate.)

140

ejh 06.29.10 at 8:38 am

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Lampard’s shot came 54 seconds after Upson’s goal. That’s not very long. In football, after a goal, the ball is back in play, and more goals can be scored, really quickly – perhaps surprisingly so. People who think that that in the short time it takes to retrieve the ball, line up and kick off again, there is time for video officials to carry out reviews, make decisions and communicate them to the referee are fantasising. They can do that if they want, but I don’t have to tell them otherwise.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 8:52 am

In general, you have a choice. You can either turn football into a game where play stops frequently for reviews, in which case you do far more damage that good by turning a free-slowing game into stop-and-start. Or you can restrict video replay to a very small number of potential controversies, let’s say ball-over-the-line. Which there’s a case for, but you need not to fantasise about the amount of time reviews take, or that views will never be blocked, or that video decisions will be uncontroversial – and you also need to restrict it to incidents where the referee believes a goal has been scored, because where he doesn’t, play is continuous. In which case you’ll miss most of the injustices – and in practice, what will likely happen (from experience in cricket in rugby league) is that the referee will always feel obliged to stop the game to check, thus stopping the game and interrupting the flow.

Or you can say that these things are part of the game and the game is great. And not try to fix what ain’t broke.

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sg 06.29.10 at 8:53 am

That’s true ejh, but I think you’re exaggerating the importance of flow in the game, and the extent to which it is not interrupted now. Substitutions, injuries and diving cause significant disruptions, especially the type of diving which leads to extended wrangling, balls going out, and/or players having to be carried off only to run straight back on. Look at the shenanigans that go on when a team is one goal up and injury time has been declared, all sorts of back pains and cramps suddenly spring up.

Post-match adjudication of diving – which can be done as slowly as one likes, without disrupting the game – would end a lot of that kind of faffing, and more than make up for the occasional slowing down of the restart. It would also pretty much put a stop to this practice, which would be a plus for the game and would hugely improve its flow overall. Watching a team that regularly dives is really frustrating.

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Phil 06.29.10 at 9:09 am

Football is full of unresolved disputes about whether balls crossed lines, people should have been sent off, penalties should have been given, fouls took place inside or outside the area.

To put it another way, football is full of perceived injustices which are debated for years and can never be finally resolved. And that’s not a bug, or if it is it’s a bug which is integral to the game. Stuff happens on the pitch, the referee does his best to keep track of it, the moving finger writes and having writ blows the full-time whistle. And the following week it starts all over again.

David Mitchell has a very funny routine which is based on Sky advertising for their football coverage but grows from there into a general rant against the pointlessness of football in general and watching football on TV in particular. “And We’ll Be Bringing You The Crucial Match – The Match That Will Decide Everything, For This Season At Least! And, Indeed, At Most.” It’s a good gag, but in a way it misses the point – there is always another match, another season, another trophy. The story always continues (well, almost always). I think this relates back to the micro-scale point about the ‘flow’ of the game – although I admit I can’t immediately put my finger on why rugby should be so different.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 9:12 am

It would also pretty much put a stop to this practice

See, this is another of your assumptions that things can be done easily, just like that. No it can’t. You’re operating a video review, not a mindreading device. In the absence of the latter, working out whether somebody has dived is really hard, and as I’ve said relating to numerous other incidents in the thread, the fact that there are differing opinions as to whether or not players have dived is testament to this. Did the Uruguayan dive against South Africa? Did the Slovakian dive yesterday? You’ll see varying opinions, and that after the people concerned have seen as many replays as they wish.

What that’s likely to do is leave you saying well, we’ll only punish in the case of very obvious, unchallengeable evidence of diving. Which is fair enough, but that won’t wipe out the practice, because the whole poinjt for the expert diver is to do it well. To fall over somebody’s legs, not just to fall over. (Lee Nogan, playing for Oxford, used to have another technique entirely – he used to dive outside the box. God knows why.)

Football fans don’t like divers very much. But it’s worth asking yourself the question – before pronouncing that there’s an easy solution to a problem, did you ponder whether or not this might have been proposed before, and debated within the game? Did you imagine that the only reasons your simple solution hadn’t been implemented were lack of will, or never having thought of it? Did it occur to you that whether or not it’s a good idea, experienced people might have thought of some problems that you had not?

Upthread, there’s a suggestion that diving be addressed by throwing around red cards at the beginning of a tournament. I can tell you, if you want to ruin a tournament, throwing around red cards at the start is a good way of going about it. We’ve been down that road before.

I think you’re exaggerating the importance of flow in the game

I don’t think I am. It’s fundamental.

and the extent to which it is not interrupted now. Substitutions, injuries and diving cause significant disruptions

Well, not really, because in the first instance, the referee can and will book people for delaying the game unnecessarily (what’s he going to do with a review, book the video ref?) and in the case of injuries, where they can, players are told to leave the field. I don’t think diving causes any significant delays at all. But in each instance, the necessity to get on with the game is understood and encouraged in the Laws. There’s a a reason for this, and video reviews go in the opposite direction.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 9:14 am

To put it another way, football is full of perceived injustices which are debated for years and can never be finally resolved. And that’s not a bug, or if it is it’s a bug which is integral to the game. Stuff happens on the pitch, the referee does his best to keep track of it, the moving finger writes and having writ blows the full-time whistle. And the following week it starts all over again.

Yes. This. Quite.

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Phil 06.29.10 at 9:17 am

sg: Post-match adjudication of diving

So, what, somebody plays for 90 minutes and then gets a red card? Or they get a retrospective yellow card at 67′ to add to the actual one that they got at 54′, which unfortunately annuls the goal they scored at 83’… Brane hertz.

The flip side of the ‘flow’ argument is that the game does stop when something big happens – and when something big happens, the game needs to stop. Which in turn means that a big part of the ref’s job is identifying when something big hasn’t happened, so that the game can continue. A ref who gave a free kick every time a player took a dive (or a penalty for every dive in the box) wouldn’t last very long.

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sg 06.29.10 at 9:19 am

one of the many reasons I ultimately like rugby more than soccer is exactly this unwillingness of the rugby crowd to declare “that’s it, the game is perfect, no more improvements needed,” as opposed to the soccer lover’s claim that the game emerged shining and perfect from the arsehole of god. The rugby crew saw the benefits of video refs, they made changes to the rules to improve safety, and they continue to refine the game. Whereas soccer fans declare that the game is good despite these continuing unresolved controversies and the diving which continues to mar the game.

Which doesn’t mean that I don’t like or don’t want to watch soccer (though as I said I watch less now that I’ve seen the fans in person, and the sexist and macho culture that surrounds soccer fandom). But it does mean that I find a very beautiful game marred by poor decision-making and silly stop-starts for pointless fouls, and I find the on-pitch behaviour of players absolutely reprehensible. The fact that they can touch the referee during disputes is astounding to me. The fact that weedy little men with too much money and bodgy tatts up to their stupid fauxhawks can boss around a man who earns less than their personal nose-picker in front of a crowd of adoring thugs, then moments later collapse and cry like babies because some other guy with receding hair farted in their general direction – it just offends the sensibilities, and it makes a mockery of the claims of aesthetic joy which people make for the sport.

Fix that, and then I’ll grant that it’s a beautiful game, though for me it’ll never have the beauty or sheer physical grace of kickboxing or rugby.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 9:26 am

as opposed to the soccer lover’s claim that the game emerged shining and perfect from the arsehole of god.

Of course nobody thinks this, but refer upthread.

I find the on-pitch behaviour of players absolutely reprehensible.

Me, I find treading on people’s heads, or punching faces, or brawling, or gouging people’s eyes, rather more reprehensible. These are among the reasons football doesn’t take lectures in ethics from certain other directions.

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Phil 06.29.10 at 9:26 am

soccer fans declare that the game is good despite these continuing unresolved controversies

As I said above, the continuing unresolved controversies aren’t a problem – they’re part of what people like about the game.

and the diving which continues to mar the game.

As I also said above, I’ve seen very little evidence of this (the ‘marring’ part, not the diving).

The fact that weedy little men with too much money and bodgy tatts up to their stupid fauxhawks can boss around a man who earns less than their personal nose-picker

Don’t be distracted by the theatre. They can boss him around all they like, but they can’t make him change his mind – and he can end their careers.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 9:33 am

but they can’t make him change his mind

This is 99.9 (recurring) per cent true, but I can think of one notorious example from a Liverpool v Roma game about ten seasons ago where, if I recall correctly, precisely that did happen. Of course precisely because it was so exceptional, it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Rugby union ethics seem to me to be very military-public school. You absolutely can’t dissent, and who is above you is above you without argument – but where people are not above you, a sizeable amount of brutality is tolerated. (Of course there’s violence in league as well, but to my mind there’s less of it, is less tolerated and it’s less intrinsic.)

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Ray 06.29.10 at 9:37 am

as opposed to the soccer lover’s claim that the game emerged shining and perfect from the arsehole of god

You are surely aware that the rules of football are constantly being revised? Cards, substitutes, the backpass rule, changes to the offside rule, changes to the laws on tackling… even just the changes to the ball and playing surface make football a significantly different game today than it was 50 years ago.
Being unwilling to sacrifice the flow of the game in a vain pursuit of perfect decision-making does not make you ‘against change’.
I don’t know about ejh and Phil, but as I said above, I’d be happy to see goal-line technology if it can give a clear and instant signal that the ball has crossed the line. But I know that this would only help in 10% of disputed goal cases, probably even less. Most goals are ruled out because of fouls in the build-up (including offsides) not because the ref doesn’t see the ball cross the line.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 9:39 am

Also it’s worth noting that football has, of course, rather than being perfect and untouchable, undergone many changes over its history – the change from “three” to “two” in the offside rule*, the introduction of substitutes, the introduction of penalty shoot-outs, the introduction of the away-goals rule, the introduction of three points for a win, the change in the back-pass rule and so on. Most of these have worked out pretty well, I think. People aren’t opposed to change as such – matter of fact, football fans propose changes all the time. They can, however, be dismissive of wholesale changes proposed by people who are neither very knowledgeable about the game nor particularly fond of it. Of this, I say “good”.

[* strictly speaking, Law]

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Ollie 06.29.10 at 9:54 am

If you compiled a list of incorrect decisions at the World Cup so far, or the same list for the last MLS season, I am ABSOLUTELY certain that we won’t find more than 1 or 2 instances in which video assistance to the referee would not have led to the correct decision being made in a maximum of 10 seconds.

The claim that video replays are usually inconclusive is fiction. In football, they rarely are.

Even in cases where the facts are unclear upon review, then the referee has no basis to rule. That changes nothing wrt current refereeing process. It already is the case that referees are REQUIRED to not make decisions they are not sure of. Since a flowing game (as opposed to the stop-start nature of American sports) is an essential quality of football, incidents that prove impossible for the video ref to rule on can simply be ignored and the referee will be allowed to make his decisions on whatever he actually observed or did not observe. Again, this alters football in no way. Not in terms of game flow, not in terms of rules, not in terms of outcome. Where video assistance would succeed is cases- the vast majority of them- in which a video ref, at the same time as the fans in the stadium, 3 seconds after the event sees that the Argentine striker was clearly offside. The ref delays his decision by all of 0 seconds, play is restarted and the game has been improved.

ejh says on 140 that it’s fantasy to expect reviews in seconds but that statement seems closer to fantasy. Nobody even asks for reviews to start with. It’s enough for the video ref to flag that something might have happened.

One argument seems to be that there is no interested party calling for video technology to be used to assist referees in decision making. This is also completely false. Most fans, most coaches, most pundits, most referees, most anybody involved with the game……….

It’d be nice to hear someone make a non-sentimental argument for why correct refereeing decisions are not necessary in football.

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Walt 06.29.10 at 9:54 am

But we’re talking about wholesale changes proposed by people who are knowledgeable about the game, and live or die by it. Though apparently you have redefined football fandom as meaning “me, and people who agree with me.” No True Scotsman would ever disagree with you, of course.

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ejh 06.29.10 at 9:58 am

Naw, just everybody I’ve ever met in the game, at least as far as the changing-scoreline malarkey is concerned.

One argument seems

Bong! It’s the Internet Seems!

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Ollie 06.29.10 at 10:02 am

ejh,

Your conceit in purporting to speak for people who love the game is grating not least because you’re taking your passion for your minority position as proof of the popularity of your position.

As I typed that, it is being reported that Sepp Blatter the FIFA President has apologised for the 2 errors in the 2 Sunday games and has said they will consider changes.

Everyone knows it will only be a matter of time before reason wins over romance.

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GP 06.29.10 at 10:04 am

@ 152

Most of the changes you mentioned aim to make the game more eventful , events meaning real play time and goals. Yet if a team is rewarded 3 points for a victory instead of 2, if a team is encouraged to play somewhat offensively as a visitor due to the away goal rule would it not make sense to ensure that what actually happens on the field is reflected by the calls? If so wouldn´t technology help make the game more eventful rather than hamper it?
Another thing I think is missing concerning changes to the rules is not one deals with time wasted by a side. The whole ” My team is being pressured and we are winning so I’ll just act like I am in distress and take a nap right here” scam isn´t dealt with properly. Why not just stop the clock when a player does that but do it in an offical way? The currently used “I’ll make up for it in stoppage time” promise by the ref does not work since it rarely fully compensates the team that is subjected to this kind of behavior.

158

ejh 06.29.10 at 10:05 am

Where video assistance would succeed is cases- the vast majority of them- in which a video ref, at the same time as the fans in the stadium, 3 seconds after the event sees that the Argentine striker was clearly offside

Heh.

You are a silly person.

If you’re going to overrule the officials, you need to be sure.

You think you can do that on one viewing?

We already have people who do that – they’re called “linesmen”, or latterly “referee’s assistants”. They get one go, to decide.

If you’re going to do better than them, and overrule them, you’re going to need more than that one go. To make sure that you haven’t missed anything, you see? Which very obviously means that you’ll need more than three seconds. Or more than ten, for that matter.

You can like that or not like it, and deny it or not deny it. What you can’t do is make it untrue.

159

ejh 06.29.10 at 10:08 am

As I typed that, it is being reported that Sepp Blatter the FIFA President has apologised for the 2 errors in the 2 Sunday games and has said they will consider changes.

Ollie, 156

no doubt it will be tried out sooner or later

ejh, #117.

160

ejh 06.29.10 at 10:11 am

Why not just stop the clock when a player does that but do it in an official way?

They do. The referee’s watch is officially the clock.

161

stostosto 06.29.10 at 10:16 am

Football does change all the time, and lately mostly for the better. The refereeing has gotten better, the play has gotten better, even the rules have gotten better. There actually now is a fourth official present at World Cup games – indeed he intervened in the 2006 final. Incidentally, while Zidane’s red card would seem the obvious right decision, the decision was by no means uncontroversial.

Off the top of my head I can think of several rather important changes to the rules:

– disallowing the goal keeper to handle the ball on back-passes (this is a vast improvement to the flow of the game)
– allowing attacking players to be online with the defense rather than requiring them to be clearly in front of them to be onside
– announcing at 90 minutes how much time is left

There is also a lot of dynamics in the play and practice itself. For instance diving has been tackled very well this time by referees (as someone mentioned upthread). A couple of years ago a practice was developing where when an injured player (real or simulated) would stay lying on the ground, the opposing team would kick the ball out of play. Afterwards they would receive the ball back on the following throw-in, to general applause for good sportsmanship. However, this practice was beginning to be abused (by teams who needed to stop the flow of an attack), which was soon discovered, debated and acknowledged. To my knowledge , the practice has largely disappeared for the good of the game – and this without changing any rules.

162

Ollie 06.29.10 at 10:24 am

@158

If you’re going to overrule the officials, you need to be sure.

Nobody has to overrule referees. The referee will remain the ultimate judge. The final authority whose decisions will remain binding.

You think you can do that on one viewing?
Yes. And how do I know? In the actual game it took all of 3 seconds for a video replay to reveal that Tevez was offside. What was ridiculous was seeing the referee confer for endless seconds with his assistant and then make the wrong decision.

If you’re going to do better than them, and overrule them, you’re going to need more than that one go. To make sure that you haven’t missed anything, you see? Which very obviously means that you’ll need more than three seconds. Or more than ten, for that matter.

As I already said, the referee will retain final authority. The whole idea is to give him more information on which to base his decisions. I’ve been a referee and I know that referees usually know something is amiss but make wrong decisions because they do not positively know such decisions to be false. Referees are told to not give decisions unless they’ve seen them.

In Thierry Henry’s handball in the France v Ireland game it was clear the referee knew something was amiss. Same with the Tevez situation on Sunday. Same with the Lampard situation. If the referee had received some information even 30 seconds after the incident it would have led to a better outcome.

I challenge you to paint a scenario in which during a game there are multiple stoppages which would be CREATED EXCLUSIVELY BY a referee seeking video evidence to make his decision.

163

Chris Bertram 06.29.10 at 10:25 am

#160 @ejh – I’m with you on most things here, except goal-line technology (sensor in the ball would be best). But the timekeeping thing is done better in RU (though only at the top level – so this happens at Premiership not Championship level and in internationals). I like the public clock and the fact that when it reaches zero play continues until the ball goes dead – makes for some very exciting finishes.

164

ejh 06.29.10 at 10:29 am

In the actual game it took all of 3 seconds for a video replay to reveal that Tevez was offside.

No it didn’t, because, as I say, you need more than one viewing to be properly sure. There are any number of things that you might miss. It’s no good to say of something that you’ve already seen, well, that was obvious. It’s all the potential things – did anybody play him offside? when was the ball played? are there any defenders standing where I can’t see them? – that need to be checked.

But this is in the realms of the bleedin’ obvious.

165

GP 06.29.10 at 10:29 am

Is it Spain Choke Day upon us? One can never be sure when the holiday arrives but it usually does. During its last occurence the American team played master of ceremony, a role reserved for the Portuguese this year perhaps.
Japan beats Paraguay.

166

ejh 06.29.10 at 10:32 am

I like the public clock and the fact that when it reaches zero play continues until the ball goes dead – makes for some very exciting finishes.

Yes, you could have a public clock, and of course one recent improvement to the game has been to share injury-time information with the crowd. I would be very wary though of taking timekeeping out of the hands of the referee, given that they’re best-placed to decide whether time is being wasted and so on.

167

ejh 06.29.10 at 10:33 am

Is it Spain Choke Day upon us? One can never be sure when the holiday arrive

You do know they’re European champions, don’t you?

168

Keir 06.29.10 at 11:04 am

Your conceit in purporting to speak for people who love the game is grating not least because you’re taking your passion for your minority position as proof of the popularity of your position.

Except you know, ejh is defending the mainline football position here and I have to say it’s a line that’s pretty popular.

Also, the examples of clear injustices cited here are pretty bad, because quite a few of them are cases where in my opinion the ref made the right decision. Going to video wouldn’t solve the problem of the ref deciding contrary to you, which seems to be a large part of the complaint.

The time thing is very clear. Any review would either only apply once the game had already been stopped, and would take at the very least 30 seconds (the tape’s at least five seconds, you have to watch it from say three angles, and then five seconds up/down, and a bit of faffing around with the tech) and would pick up almost nothing worth caring about, or else it would be intrusive as hell. How far back do we replay the tape? Goals can come after minutes of sustained pressure, which might involve one or two possible offsides, several maybe penalties, and a ball that might have crossed the byline when the winger was pushed wide just before the cross into the box.

(Finally, [t]he rugby crew saw the benefits of video refs, they made changes to the rules to improve safety, and they continue to refine the game; yeah, how are those ELVs treating you?)

169

GP 06.29.10 at 11:06 am

“You do know they’re European champions, don’t you?”

Yes, a great follow up to their 1964 European title. Losers.

170

Ollie 06.29.10 at 11:23 am

Keir @168

There are at least 12 cameras in every stadium. In the broadcast room, the director and crew often see multiple angles. You don’t need to play the tape 3ce.

ejh,
Using advanced video technology i’d take less than a second with the right algorithm to identify which of the attacking team’s players was the closest to the defending team’s goal line than the last 2 defending team players. Amazing that what you consider bleedingly obvious doesn’t exist. You don’t need such extensive deliberations most of the time. I mean, if one player socked the other in the nuts you don’t need deliberation before telling the player that Player X just castrated Player V. If the application of video assistance will be limited to such cases, it’s already be an improvement on current officiating.

Even with widely available analog technology, you’d have seen the line used to determine offside in video replays. It’s very effective. To the trained eye, using that line offside can be seen instantly.

But there are problems with using video assistance to call offside. One is that being called offside effectively ends a team’s attack. If after video assistance, the ref rules the team wasn’t offside they’d have lost the initiative. So largely video would be useless. Nevertheless it can be used in dead-ball situations leading to a goal.

171

ejh 06.29.10 at 11:27 am

Less than a second?

Slacker.

I personally would divine the truth instantly by employing telepathic powers to engage with TV viewers all over the world and thereby channel, instantly, the wisdom of the crowd.

172

sg 06.29.10 at 11:27 am

Me, I find treading on people’s heads, or punching faces, or brawling, or gouging people’s eyes, rather more reprehensible. These are among the reasons football doesn’t take lectures in ethics from certain other directions.

Well, my sport is brawling and punching (and kicking) people’s faces, so you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take you up on the “ethics” lecture there. But you see, any of those activities (and let’s include ear-biting here, shall we?) would get you in a lot of trouble through the video ref in “certain other directions.” Whereas in football, I can run into the goal, push over the keeper, kick him, get my mates to join in, and somehow walk away with the keeper wearing the yellow card.

Does it strike you as interesting that this appalls a kickboxer, but is “part of the game” to a football fan?

173

Ollie 06.29.10 at 11:30 am

Keir,

Except you know, ejh is defending the mainline football position here and I have to say it’s a line that’s pretty popular.

Absolutely not. Listen to 606, or any football call in show, look at any online polls, most fans will tell you they want video assistance. Referees in England have said the same thing. Football coaches have said the same thing. It is not mainline at all. The only constituency in football that’s voiced opposition to video evidence is the IFAB.

174

ejh 06.29.10 at 11:34 am

Whereas in football, I can run into the goal, push over the keeper, kick him, get my mates to join in, and somehow walk away with the keeper wearing the yellow card.

Can you furnish us with a real-life example resembling this description?

175

sg 06.29.10 at 11:41 am

Italy vs. Slovakia, a few days ago. All of it caught on the goal-corner camera. That is exactly what happened, and it was on replay on the tv I watched immediately. Two red cards right there, but the goalie got a yellow for punching one of them.

The goal-corner camera is like watching a mugging. Goalie has the ball, two players come charging in from different directions very fast, one pushes him over and they start kicking him immediately.

It wasn’t the first time either – there was a deliberate kick to the heels out of play when he was collecting an offside ball, which he desperately hammed up to no avail. And there was also a pretty cynical attempt in the box to make him fall on his face.

The Italians deliberately intimidated him in the hope that they could weaken his confidence in goal, and it worked to some extent. This is “just the game” and even after-match disciplinary decisions wouldn’t change it? I don’t think so. Even in AFL, which has no send-off rule, video referee decisions get people suspended from play after the match. But not in the “beautiful game,” whose players are thugs to match their fans.

176

Ollie 06.29.10 at 11:43 am

ejh,

It would take less time than it takes Google to give you search results. Your telepathic powers would be more useful in other situations. Video technology can handle this one.

177

Keir 06.29.10 at 11:43 am

There are at least 12 cameras in every stadium. In the broadcast room, the director and crew often see multiple angles. You don’t need to play the tape 3ce.

Oh yes you do, because there may well be one frame in one angle that actually makes it clear what happened, and you have to find it. Seriously, have you never seen the rugby guys do video reffing? It takes time.

IFAB, by the way, is England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the rest of the world. Of those, the English and the Scots want more video, and nobody else is really keen. We tried goal line tech at the club world cup once, and it was a bit eh. Also, srsly, are you actually saying that people who call into sports talkback are the voice of the people? They’re nutters!

178

Keir 06.29.10 at 11:52 am

And sg, that never happened. The Slovak keeper got a yellow at the same time as Quagliarella when they scuffled over a ball in the net after the Italians scored. That’s nothing like what you claim happened.

179

sg 06.29.10 at 11:53 am

no keir, that’s not the case at all. Watch the goal-corner camera. They came running in, pushed him over, and kicked him. The goalkeeper turned up in time to see him punch one of them back from the ground.

180

ejh 06.29.10 at 11:53 am

But not in the “beautiful game,” whose players are thugs to match their fans.

I think at this point, you really need to take your ignorance and snobbery with you and depart.

181

Ray 06.29.10 at 11:57 am

“Using advanced video technology i’d take less than a second with the right algorithm to identify which of the attacking team’s players was the closest to the defending team’s goal line than the last 2 defending team players”

And is this algorithm going to tell you which attackers are active and interfering with play?

182

stostosto 06.29.10 at 12:00 pm

This is a view I strongly favour.

After the match, Neuer gave this account of his actions: “I tried not to react to the referee and just concentrate on what was happening. I realised it was over the line and I think the way I carried on so quickly fooled the referee into thinking it was not over.”

To put it bluntly: Neuer cheated, and then boasted about it.

By any normal ethical standards, what Neuer did was wrong. But does the fact that Neuer was playing football mean that the only ethical rule is “win at all costs”

No, I say. And we would do well to focus on this instead of on the introduction of video equipment.

183

stostosto 06.29.10 at 12:01 pm

oops. Paras 3 and 4 in #182 should be included in the blockquote.

184

Keir 06.29.10 at 12:02 pm

no keir, that’s not the case at all. Watch the goal-corner camera. They came running in, pushed him over, and kicked him. The goalkeeper turned up in time to see him punch one of them back from the ground.

Eh, he was also arguably slowing the game down in an attempt to put Italy out the cup. They both got a yellow, and then we all moved on and nobody’s that upset about it.

185

Ollie 06.29.10 at 12:07 pm

Keir,
Rugby is a different game to football. As has been said so many times on this thread. And every time the debate has been had, the process for video assistance doesn’t need to involve several reviews. It’s enough for it to be applied to obvious situations for it to be a vast improvement on the current state of affairs.

I want to stress that it won’t work as follows.
1. Something happens.
2. Ref calls for a review.
3. Game is stopped while review occurs.
4. Decision is given

It will instead work as follows;

1. Something happens.
2. The video assistant in the broadcast room catches it with the help of various technologies, the broadcast crew and the director.
3. He informs the ref.
4. The ref makes a decision based on what he saw and what the video is reported as showing.

Altrnatively;

1. Something happens.
2. The referee suspecting something is amiss asks for more information, a process exactly same as conferring with the assistants or the 4th official.
3. Video assistance states what he’s able to determine that the video shows.
4. Decision is given

IFAB, by the way, is England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the rest of the world. Of those, the English and the Scots want more video, and nobody else is really keen. We tried goal line tech at the club world cup once, and it was a bit eh. Also, srsly, are you actually saying that people who call into sports talkback are the voice of the people? They’re nutters!

If you succeed in finding one poll of football fans that doesn’t show a clear majority (usually above 70%) supporting video technology, please link to it. People who actually follow the game know that very few people involved with the game are against video technology. On the contrary, most people involved with football are incredulous that the IFAB continues what’s perceived to be irrational opposition to something that will improve the game.

186

ejh 06.29.10 at 12:11 pm

he was also arguably slowing the game down in an attempt to put Italy out the cup

You can watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_U9mSqCe88&feature=fvst

Plainly he’s preventing the Italians collecting the ball, and that’s what he got booked for. Their conduct is none too special, but his offence, for which he’s booked, is timewasting.

Re: Neuer, I have to say I’m not terribly concerned that he got straight on with the game and didn’t give the ref time to think. I don’t think it’s cheating at all. Keita in re: Kaka, now that was cheating.

187

dsquared 06.29.10 at 12:13 pm

Using advanced video technology i’d take less than a second with the right algorithm to identify which of the attacking team’s players was the closest to the defending team’s goal line than the last 2 defending team players.

No, this wouldn’t work, because the camera angle which showed you which player was closest to the goal line would always (or even usually) show you the precise moment when the ball was kicked. I suspect that doing this with acceptable accuracy would require you to be tracking players and ball with much more accuracy than you can get on video at present. Goal line crossings could definitely be sorted out by a video referee but really, how many of them are there every year? And the idea that a video recording is going to be any real help in deciding whether someone dived or not seems like total wishful thinking to me.

188

Ollie 06.29.10 at 12:13 pm

Ray,

Yes, the algorithm can tell you that as well. There is a precise meaning to the term interfering with play. Furthermore, we’re not outsourcing refereeing to algorithms, it would still take the trained eyes of referees to interprete what algorithms or video flags.

This isn’t 1962. There are 100s of video technologies that can be applied to assisting referees.

189

ejh 06.29.10 at 12:15 pm

Something happens.
2. The video assistant in the broadcast room catches it with the help of various technologies, the broadcast crew and the director.
3. He informs the ref.
4. The ref makes a decision based on what he saw and what the video is reported as showing.

Sorry, can you remind us how long you’re expecting 2 to take? Because Keir’s assessment of what it entails is enormously more realistic than yours.

190

ejh 06.29.10 at 12:19 pm

Goal line crossings could definitely be sorted out by a video referee

I’d be wary of that “definitely”. It’s always possible for bodies to be in between the camera and the ball. But you’re probably right about the relative rarity of the problem.

191

Ollie 06.29.10 at 12:20 pm

dsquared,

Have you ever seen player tracking systems? They very accurately tell a coach the distance between players.

To illustrate, players are usually required to maintain certain formations, which requires coordinated movement e.g. the two centre backs holding an offside line, moving in near unison and standing a maximum and minimum distance apart. The holding midfielder stands at a distance away from them, the wingers a distance away and so on. There is existing technologies used by coaches in drills to get players accustomed to maintaining tactical ‘shape’. I cant say how accurate it is but I know it exists and is well trusted by the professionals.

192

ejh 06.29.10 at 12:24 pm

because the camera angle which showed you which player was closest to the goal line would always (or even usually) show you the precise moment when the ball was kicked.

Is the “would” here supposed to be “wouldn’t”?

I find myself wondering whether the replays being operated at the present tournament don’t tend to stop the action before the ball is kicked. Naturally this will normally (though not always) tend to favour the attacking side and show people slightly onside who were actually slightly offside. In one way this doesn’t matter too much, given current instructions to officials as regards interpretation, but it does point up the difficulty in determining precisely when the ball is played. Which ,given that we’re talking international controversies, is liable to be important.

193

Earnest O'Nest 06.29.10 at 12:24 pm

I vote for ejh replacing Blatter. If that’s not on, I’d like to see Ollie’s robot referee championship asap. If anything it will lead players to perfect the art of finding an opponent’s body part such as to dive in a way most credibly similar to being fouled. Man against machine, who will win? Poor little African footballers will unfortunately have to get a scholarship in American universities if they are to have a chance to dive like the best of them.

194

Ollie 06.29.10 at 12:25 pm

ejh,

I’ll gladly remind you. Anything from 1 second (I repeat 1 second or even shorter) to longer.

I’ve countless times seen 4th officials inform referees of what they’ve seen in real time and everything happens in seconds. If you actually follow football you’d have seen the sending off of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at Old Trafford last autumn. The 4th official saw him kick a water bottle and appealed to the referee who sent Wenger into the stands a few seconds later.

Substitute or supplement the video ref with the 4th official and the same thing can happen in the same time frame in exactly the same way.

195

ejh 06.29.10 at 12:29 pm

#194 – no it can’t. Seeing someone kick a water bottle is not the same as determining whether or not somebody was offside, or a ball crossed the line.

You seem to be completely oblivious to the need to look at a replay more than once, or indeed the need to locate the start of the replay in the first place, and then run it. It’s bizarre. it’s as if the stages in the process were to happen instantly.

196

ejh 06.29.10 at 12:33 pm

It’s like saying “it only takes ninety seconds to travel from one Tube station to another” and forgetting all the time it takes to get down to the platform, wait for the train and get out of the station at the other end. Let alone buy the ticket.

197

Mrs Tilton 06.29.10 at 12:36 pm

sg @128,

it’s from Hornby’s Fever Pitch.

198

Ollie 06.29.10 at 12:36 pm

ejh,

That’s where you’re refusing to engage with what video assistance to referees is all about. It’ s no more than a way to provide more information that would enable referees make the correct decision.

The 4th official that saw Zidane headbutt Materazzi at the last World Cup saw it on Television. It could well have been the video assistant seeing it.

I do agree that offside is the most problematic law that referees can get video assistance in applying because offside decisions are not only instant but they change the momentum of the game by stopping an attack.

Goal line decisions are different. Because goals decide games, it is well worth spending even 60 seconds to determine if the ball crossed the line.

There are several other laws the referee can get assistance with. There’s sending offs….refs have been known to send off the wrong player. There are many cases of obvious simulation (a man elbowed in the ribs who clutches his face) etc etc

199

Ollie 06.29.10 at 12:48 pm

There are practices that can make the application of the rule better which can be enabled by video assistance.

One I’d like to see is to give the referee the option of asking the player. So, take the Thierry Henry situation in which he handled the ball. The referee would ask the player who would reply with a yes or no. If the player tells the truth, the correct decision will be given, if the player lies, the video referee can check while the game continues. If it is then determined that the player lied, the referee sends the player off for the already punishable offence of deceiving the refereee and the player is exposed as a cheat and then faces a lengthy ban.

There are so many other possible applications that involve video assistance.

200

dsquared 06.29.10 at 1:02 pm

Is the “would” here supposed to be “wouldn’t”?

yes

201

ejh 06.29.10 at 1:07 pm

If the player tells the truth, the correct decision will be given, if the player lies, the video referee can check while the game continues. If it is then determined that the player lied

Eh?

202

sg 06.29.10 at 1:19 pm

And the idea that a video recording is going to be any real help in deciding whether someone dived or not seems like total wishful thinking to me.

bet you don’t say that when it happens to your favourite team!

I think at this point, you really need to take your ignorance and snobbery with you and depart.

Or I could take my sarcasm and depart? I lived in Finsbury Park, I’ve had more than enough experience of football fans to last me a lifetime, thank you. The difference between an Australian kickboxing crowd, an English rugby crowd, and an English soccer crowd is more than just the shape of the ball(s), you know. And it’s not snobbery to point out that having to be divided from the opposing team’s fans by lines of police, closing the station down with dog squads, and having to take a different route home lest you stumble on the bastards is not “beautiful.”

203

Earnest O'Nest 06.29.10 at 1:25 pm

Ollie, at this point in time I’m asking myself if you are in the business of selling these systems.

204

Mrs Tilton 06.29.10 at 1:28 pm

sg @130,

and you’re failing under the excessive use of the “Bong! I’m a prat” approach to arguing

And that, sadly, fails for Failure to Recognise That Justin Is, in Fact, a Prat.

That said, he’s largely right on the central matter in contention.

Look, in principle I’d be all for a system with (say) a chip in the ball, a chip in each player’s boot and some sort of sensor at (or a ball’s width behind) the goal line. A computer could track the positions of the 23 chips, transmitting a peep to a plug in the AR’s ear when a player is offside as warning to watch whether he is then involved in active play. And the goal line sensor could send a peep to a plug in the ref’s ear when the ball is behind it. No delays, no challenges, just a tech assist to the officials to help eliminate errors.

But I wouldn’t support anything that delays play. The video official works well in rugby, but then he is called on at times when, by definition, play has stopped; different matter altogether. If there is an inobtrusive, real-time tech fix like the one I described, well hooray. But failing that, better a few more dodgy calls than a move in the direction of American football.

Post-match review for uncaught bookable offences is another matter altogether. And it happens already; it should happen more often and more vigilantly in my view, but isn’t any new principle.

So, yes, I have to vote with Justin on the substance of his argument. Can’t say I care for its marginal decorations — its schoolboy contrarianism, its smug catty snobbery — but then, he is a prat, isn’t he.

205

Ollie 06.29.10 at 1:31 pm

A physiologist weighs in: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/pdf_extract/329/7480/1470

That weighs in directly on dsquared’s question of whether video can track the relative position of players. It turns out that the human eye can not track the movement of 6 people simultaneously. It turns out a referee would have to do that to make the correct call.

The paper I link to here ignores 3 components which referees rely on in judging offsides; logic, intuition and experience.

206

Ollie 06.29.10 at 2:16 pm

Mrs Tilton,

I don’t think anyone has ever shown that using video assistance would add substantial delays to restart of play, substantial here measured in seconds. I have heard it asserted but never demonstrated.

There are many actual high-profile cases where referees have taken input from other officials to make correct decisions in matches, inputs which were based on the other officials seeing a video of the incident. I can recall quite a few of those instances and none involved a lengthy pause in the game.

It is inconceivable that it will be impossible to design processes for the use of video assistance which do not affect the current flow of the game except for instances where the referee would have stopped play to confer with the officials anyway. And even if it would turn out it’s impossible to design processes that don’t delay the game, I don’t think we have enough reason ex ante to conclude it is.

207

Phil 06.29.10 at 3:11 pm

even if it would turn out it’s impossible to design processes that don’t delay the game, I don’t think we have enough reason ex ante to conclude it is.

Two things here. Firstly, I’m temperamentally conservative about great new ideas which have the potential to bugger up things which are working quite well. In this case, I do think we’ve got enough reason to conclude ex ante that it may well be impossible to design processes that don’t delay the game. That wouldn’t be a good reason not to experiment with video on a small scale, but small-scale experimentation doesn’t seem to be on offer; generally, people are talking about the possible adoption of technologies and processes by the sport’s governing bodies, i.e. a large-scale top-down rollout which would be very difficult to roll back in again. I don’t think the risks are anywhere near worth the possible benefit.

Secondly, we’ve been talking about half a dozen different things here, from the ref being able to consult a linesman in the TV control room, through the linesman in the TV control room notifying the ref, to all manner of semi- and fully-automated systems. We’ve also been talking about several different problems, from goals like Lampard’s to offside decisions to diving.

Thirdly, I haven’t heard a convincing case that any of these actually is a problem. Yes, I think Lampard’s goal should have been given – of course I do, I’m English. Lots of German fans probably think it’s all fair in love and football. Either way, you play on – and in the end 4-1 was about the result that England team deserved. It’s an outrage, it’s a total injustice, the ref must have been blind… and you play on. We’ll sort it out in the Euros. It’s an injustice within the game, but it’s not a problem with a technical fix – it really is part of the game.

208

Phil 06.29.10 at 3:12 pm

Two things here

Sorry about that – my third point was initially disallowed.

209

Walt 06.29.10 at 3:33 pm

The German fans I know concede that Lampard’s goal was a goal. They’re worried this means they have to stop bringing up ’66.

210

dsquared 06.29.10 at 3:45 pm

They’re worried this means they have to stop bringing up ‘66.

I was not previously aware that German fans enjoyed bringing up the subject of the 1966 World Cup.

211

ejh 06.29.10 at 3:53 pm

God this is dull. …

and the Paraguay-Japan match isn’t up to much either.

212

Anderson 06.29.10 at 4:02 pm

There’s an easy, workable system: put the disputed play on the stadium monitors, and if the ref looks at it and goes “oh shit,” he can retract the call.

Little or no delay, and while it would miss a lot, it would prevent some of the awfulness we’ve seen (but the ref evidently hasn’t).

213

ejh 06.29.10 at 4:31 pm

and if the ref looks at it and goes “oh shit,” he can retract the call.

Provided h’s not actually following the game he’s refereeing in the meantime, of course.

Oddly, just after posting at 211, my satellite coverage winked out of existence for ten minutes, as if exhausted by the tedium of the match. It’s back now and hopefully won’t disappear again during tonight’s match.

214

ejh 06.29.10 at 4:49 pm

It’s hard to see Paraguay being any threat to either Spain or Portugal if that game’s any evidence: it wasn’t so dull because the teams were especially defensive, it was dull because neither side possessed any guile or strength or flair around the box. The sort of game that’s a good advert for sleep.

215

Randy Paul 06.29.10 at 6:07 pm

Argentina is thin on defense. Maradona has gone with 6 forwards, Walter Samuel is injured, their keeper is very suspect and the rest of their defense except for Heinze and Mascherano are pretty weak.

The teams they’ve faced so far have an agreggate goal differential of plus 1 in games they’ve played against teams other than Argentina. Greece, South Korea and Nigeria may be good fodder for getting out of your group and a muy debil Mexico may get you to the quarters, but they’ll face a major test on Saturday.

216

Anderson 06.29.10 at 6:10 pm

Provided he’s not actually following the game he’s refereeing in the meantime

Oh, like the ref was following the game in England v. Germany? Would diverting his attention for a moment be such a clear loss?

217

Philip 06.29.10 at 7:19 pm

@ sg ‘I lived in Finsbury Park, I’ve had more than enough experience of football fans to last me a lifetime, thank you. The difference between an Australian kickboxing crowd, an English rugby crowd, and an English soccer crowd is more than just the shape of the ball(s), you know. And it’s not snobbery to point out that having to be divided from the opposing team’s fans by lines of police, closing the station down with dog squads, and having to take a different route home lest you stumble on the bastards is not “beautiful.” ‘

And I’ve seen enough of drunken rugby players and rugby tours to know they’re not gentlemen, but hey that’s just high jinx and they’re not thugs, yobs, or hooligans. The vast majority of football matches I’ve been to the fans have happily mixed before and after the games. The exceptions I can think off are Englandv Turkey, Sundeland v Newcastle and Sunderland v Middlesbrough.

I played rugby as a kid and don’t like the constant rule changes. I’m never sure now what is an offence at rucks and mauls. The two main complaints about the style of play in rugby are ‘slowing play at the breakdown’ and ‘too much kicking. It’s very difficult to bring in rule changes for both of these as if you give more penalties at the breakdown teams will kick for territory and hope for a penalty.

218

ejh 06.29.10 at 7:22 pm

Half-time notes:

a. Puyol is a very dirty player. People don’t realise this, probably because he has long hair and plays for Barcelona, but that doesn’t make him a a hippy. He kicks and elbows like he was on a bonus for it.

b. If Casillas played for Barcelona rather than Real Madrid, the Madrid press would be screaming for him to be replaced. He’s been making bad mistakes for club and country for some months now. Personally I think it’s probably been right to keep him on the grounds of not changing a winning side, but he’s been iffy again tonight and I very much doubt the Madrid press would be so indulgent if it were Valdés in the team but in poor form and Casillas out of it but playing the best football of his career.

219

stostosto 06.29.10 at 7:59 pm

Ollie @206:

I don’t think anyone has ever shown that using video assistance would add substantial delays to restart of play, substantial here measured in seconds. I have heard it asserted but never demonstrated.

Quick! Decide this: Goal or no goal?

220

stostosto 06.29.10 at 8:02 pm

Btw, I think Spain’s 1-0 goal was offside! Why don’t they show that one with their fancy graphics?

221

Philip 06.29.10 at 8:23 pm

Stotosto that youtube clip is exactly the kind of decision that could be made with having chips in the ball. David Villa was offside when he received the ball but I haven’t seen the shot showing where he was when it was played, maybe there isn’t one.

222

Philip 06.29.10 at 8:27 pm

Seen the fancy graphics and he was just offside.

223

stostosto 06.29.10 at 8:39 pm

Philip,

that’s right. A chip would prolly do the trick.

224

Doug 06.29.10 at 9:06 pm

Ollie @ 206: It is inconceivable

That word.

225

ejh 06.29.10 at 9:23 pm

So was he off then? Curiously they didn’t seem to think so on my Canal+ coverage.

I’d make Spain favourites to reach the final from here: Germany and Argentina have to play each other rather than Paraguay, and hence have to win one hard match rather than two.

226

stostosto 06.29.10 at 10:15 pm

So, it will be Brazil-Spain. And Brazil gets it again.

227

Mrs Tilton 06.29.10 at 10:19 pm

By the fancy graphics on German television he was off, just barely. (Off is off; the “barely” matters only to point up that it can be an incredibly difficult call. From all the angles shown until the fancy thing he looked to me to be well onside.)

Again: if chips in ball and boot can assist officials in reducing the incidence of this type of error, then do it. But no video replay while the clock’s ticking, thank you very much.

Philip @217,

I’ve seen more than my share of drunken rugby players as well (though I’m not especially interested in whether or not they are gentlemen.) But I’ve never seen anything especially ugly among them — stupid, perhaps; ugly, no, and certainly nothing remotely like the ugliness that can be seen in a drunken football crowd. Of course, I’ve haven’t often seen that sort of ugliness in a football crowd either. But sg has a point here — forced separation of opposing support at a rugby match would be just baffling, and nobody worries about running into the other side’s fans on the way home, except possibly about being unable to match them for beers.

228

GP 06.30.10 at 2:50 am

Spain actually played ok, still I don´t see them beating Germany or Argentina. Brazil on the other hand could defeat both Spain and Argentina with relative ease but would have a hard time with Germany and is going to have an even harder time arriving at that match by beating Holland.
The three top teams in my opinion are
1. Germany
2. Holland
3. Brazil

229

dominic 06.30.10 at 4:36 am

I’m sick of the usual suspects lifting the cup every 4 years. Spain or Holland for a first win, please (if we can’t have Paraguay or Ghana).

230

stostosto 06.30.10 at 7:48 am

GP @228: How does Holland enter that list? I will be really, really surprised if Brazil don’t beat them. In fact, I have a hard time imagining anyone beating Brazil this time.

But I do find I am secretly hoping for Germany, and Arg-Ger on Saturday will be exciting! Argentina is definitely no pushover, like er… some other teams that Germany have met.

Regarding that goal by Villa, I will give the ref a pass. It is narrow enough that it’s okay not to call it.

http://www.in.com/videos/watchvideo-offside-wc-david-villa-spain-v-portugal-goalflv-8486371.html

231

stostosto 06.30.10 at 8:00 am

In fact, this bit of graphic fanciness (inexplicably featuring some horrible music, so be warned) makes the claim that Villa is exactly 0.22m offside.

232

ejh 06.30.10 at 8:19 am

How does Holland enter that list? I will be really, really surprised if Brazil don’t beat them. In fact, I have a hard time imagining anyone beating Brazil this time.

I’m reminded of their last quarter-final meeting, which you’re bound to see the highlights of between now and the game, in which the Dutch did next to nothing until they were 2-0 down, then suddenly turned into demons and scored twice in a few minutes. It took an outrageous free-kick to win it.

That game reminds me of one reason I’m very glad the competition is being held in South Africa – it’s not too hot for football. One reason the Dutch were so poor was that they were playing at walking pace, like practically everybody else, because of the heat – a style that sited Brazil much more than them. It’s been much better in South Africa, players can actually run around like you’re supposed to.

I think Brazil were outstanding against Chile, but in some ways Spain’s win yesterday impressed me just as much, because Portugal are a better team than Chile. What especially impressed is that Portugal got nowhere near the goal after Spain went ahead. That’s what wins World Cups. Brazil and Spain seem to me to be a little better than the other contenders in that department, not simply because they have strong defences but because they both keep possession so well.

Llorente, who came on for Torres last night, looks about eighteen. I was astonished to look him up this morning and find he was twenty-five. The caption is unintentionally amusing:

Llorente…. marked by Peter Crouch, moments before his first goal

233

Ollie 06.30.10 at 9:15 am

@227
Replays go on already while the game is on. They just aren’t used to assist referees. Most people agree that delays to the game are undesirable in the main, including advocates of video assistance. There are many ways video assistance can be used without adding delays to the game at all. So it seems all your parameters are satisfied and you should support video assistance.

@219
That’s a red herring. In that game, the referee couldn’t tell if the ball had crossed the line so did not give a goal. If the video assistant (assisted by the video crew and director) had looked at it from the 12 to 34 camera angles in that (and every stadium), and the videos were inconclusive, he’d simply have told the referee the video was inconclusive. The goal would not have been given. Same outcome as if there were no video assistants, reached in the same time. The decision would be reached in the same time unless the referee decided to stop play to 1. confer with the assistants and 4th official OR 2. ask the video assistants for a comprehensive review. Here again, the outcomes and processes and time taken would be similar. Note of course that the camera crew and director are experts at quickly zooming into the relevant footage and already do that in secs. That’s why we’re able to see replays right after the action occurs.

So yes, video evidence might have proven inconclusive in this case, but it won’t in most cases. It won’t in the vast majority of cases.

The issue of whether giving video assistance to the referee is a process issue. Processes are designed. The process of giving and receiving video assistance to the ref can be designed to minimise delays. At the very least, it’s possible to tell refs that unless the video evidence is ready immediately then he should go with what he sees.

Since the video evidence will be ready very quickly most times, there will be enough instances where the referee can receive video assistance for this to lead to better decision making.

But many other decisions are not time-bound. There is no statute of limitations in football. A player can be sent off several minutes later for an act of violence for example. Modifications to refereeing practice combined to video technology can allow for many video-assisted correct decisions to be taken, making refereeing less error-prone.

I do realise that many people think refereeing errors are not a problem. And I can even understand that view to an extent. However, the rules are the rules and they shouldn’t be hit-or-miss in application. Also, human error allows for corruption and question the legitimacy of the game.

234

ejh 06.30.10 at 9:27 am

Capello may stay, says BBC blog, giving three reasons why this may be so and leaving out a fourth one, unless it hints at it obliquely by referring to Roy Hodgson as “the one genuine English candidate”.

235

sg 06.30.10 at 11:16 am

It seems to me (not having followed exactly what outrages Capello has got up to or not) that sacking the coach for the most recent performance is a bit vindictive. It’s a practice I generally don’t approve of in sport – you lose a competition at the very highest level against the very best team, and people think this is entirely and completely your fault and you should be sacked for it? Particularly when soccer games can be won or lost on a single mistake or slip, when the teams are closely matched (e.g. that cross-bar moment in the Japan-Paraguay game).

NZ kept Henry on after their loss to France in the Rugby World Cup, I seem to recall, even though it was quite woeful, because he generally has a very good record. Whereas Australia seem to have gone through a lot of coaches, and it doesn’t seem to have helped them.

Maybe, though, the England team have sunk to the point where they need Hiddink magic to win…

236

Phil 06.30.10 at 11:44 am

the rules are the rules and they shouldn’t be hit-or-miss in application

The rules of football have always been hit-and-miss in application, in that they’ve always depended on individual judgment for their application – they’re a bit like the law in that respect.

Some sports – tennis, for instance – are made up of a series of individual actions, each of which has to be technically correct in measurable ways. The laws of tennis are like a criminal code consisting entirely of speeding offences: automation adds precision and doesn’t meaningfully reduce the scope for judgment, because judgment doesn’t really come into the question of whether or not a ball is out.

Football isn’t like that: compared to tennis, the proportion of a game which is made up of incidents amenable to measurement is much smaller, and the proportion of those incidents which are disputed is smaller as well. Most of football is all about judgment – not only that, but most of the problems which are being proposed for automated solutions are all about judgment. It’s just not an appropriate set of solutions.

237

Walt 06.30.10 at 11:56 am

Offside is a matter of judgment? Whether or not a goal is a goal is a matter of judgment? Maybe they should give scores between 0 and 10 for each goal, like in figure skating.

238

ejh 06.30.10 at 12:02 pm

Offside is a matter of judgment?

Yes. Football is a branch of drama, not of mathematics. Cope with it.

239

sg 06.30.10 at 12:02 pm

they could score like boxing, with points for good tackles or passes!

240

Walt 06.30.10 at 12:14 pm

Is that an actual ex cathedra pronouncement, Pope ejh, or is this one of those things that members of the faith can have separate private opinions about?

Drama is a branch of mathematics. While else do they number the acts?

241

Philip 06.30.10 at 12:24 pm

Mrs Tilton, okay the two sports are obviously supported differently. I was more objecting to the categorisation of all football fans and not recognising any problems with rugby fans.

@ Ollie ‘But many other decisions are not time-bound. There is no statute of limitations in football. A player can be sent off several minutes later for an act of violence for example. ‘

The decisions are time-bound. If the referee sees an offense he can stop play or give advantage but he has to decide very quickly. If he plays advantage he can then give a player a card when play stops.

242

Ollie 06.30.10 at 1:59 pm

Phil,

If refereeing decisions are hit-and-miss, should they be? If you say yes, why then shouldn’t we have biased refereeing? Is a bent referee different from a poor referee in practice?

243

Ollie 06.30.10 at 2:54 pm

Philip,

While referees are supposed to make timely decisions, and while assistants currently have to instantly signal offences to the referee that he might have missed, there is no statute of limitations. A player can, in theory, be booked in the 90th minute for an offence committed in the 90th second.

The rule you referred to applies to offences the referee actually sees but doesn’t immediately penalise in a bid to allow advantage and let the game flow.

244

GP 06.30.10 at 3:47 pm

Stostosto @230: Holland is good at keeping possession, they also finishes well. It will not be easy at all for Brazil. Germany and Holland are similar in that they both possess these characteristics and are in my mind the two major candidates to keep Brazil from taking home their 6th World Cup.
Brazil also suffers in midfield because there is not a proper sub for Kaka. Julio Baptista is Kaka´s official sub but lacks creative play and thus does not serve the fowards effectively. The Portugal match made this clear plus the multitasking Daniel Alves , who replaced defensive midfielder Elano in the same match was also expected to fill the Kaka void, did not. The only option Brazil has for this problem is what they did against North Korea: pull back Robinho and have him do Kaka´s job. This was done against NK, even with Kaka on the pitch but underperforming. See the Robinho pass to Elano for Brazil´s second goal as an example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-dk5l1_o1E
This Kaka sub problem is why Dunga came under so much heat for not including Ronaldinho Gaúcho and/or Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos player) in the squad. I can see Dunga´s reasons for doing this though: Ronaldinho underperformed constantly while playing for Brazil during Dunga´s reign and Ganso is very young and busted out on the stage less than 6 months ago. In the end Brazil is stuck with an out of position Robinho being Kaka´s de facto sub, this may work against North Korea but I doubt it will be enough versus Germany and Holland, or even Argentina.
In the end Kaka is the key, when he plays well all goes well for the Brazilians.

245

Phil 06.30.10 at 4:15 pm

If refereeing decisions are hit-and-miss, should they be? If you say yes, why then shouldn’t we have biased refereeing? Is a bent referee different from a poor referee in practice?

If judicial verdicts are hit-and-miss, should they be? (Meaningless question, as they cannot not be.) If the answer’s yes, why then shouldn’t we have biased judges? (This is a risk which can never be entirely eliminated in any job which relies on unbiased judgment.) Is a bent judge different from a poor judge in practice? (Yes, as their poor judgments will tend to have a pattern.)

My point is that referees, unlike tennis umpires, make judgments on a whole range of issues on which there can be no definitive right or wrong answer (call them “judgment issues”) – as well as deciding on a very narrow range of issues on which there is a right answer (“accuracy issues”). They get a small number of accuracy issues verifiably wrong, but that’s inevitable given the conditions under which they have to work. To say that the way they work should be changed in order to iron out those few problems with accuracy issues, in a job which consists mainly of judgment issues, strikes me as dangerously wrongheaded.

246

chris 06.30.10 at 5:45 pm

They get a small number of accuracy issues verifiably wrong, but that’s inevitable given the conditions under which they have to work.

This seems awfully weak in the context of a discussion about changing the conditions under which they work. If under other conditions those accuracy errors would be completely evitable, then why not change the conditions?

Indeed, since you’re raising the parallel of judges, would you similarly oppose the introduction of security camera, DNA, forensic, etc. evidence into the courtroom as it only interferes with the exercise of judgment? Clearly that would be nonsense, so why isn’t it similarly nonsense in sport? The application of a set of rules to events on a pitch is no more ineffable than the application of a set of laws to the events of a pub brawl.

Also, I dispute the idea that a referee’s job consists *mainly* of “issues on which there can be no definitive right or wrong answer”. There may be a substantial number of cases in which the right answer isn’t certainly known to the referee, even with video replays, but that is a far cry from imponderable issues of philosophy, or even statutory construction.

247

Ollie 06.30.10 at 7:06 pm

@245

Even accepting it to be true that refereeing is mainly about judgement issues, changing the way referees work to reduce the number of errors in abjudicating accuracy issues seems like a clear improvement.

You wouldn’t argue against giving judges reading glasses with a view to reducing their reading errors, basing such an argument on the notion that judging is mainly a ‘judgement issue’.

248

Phil 06.30.10 at 8:26 pm

If under other conditions those accuracy errors would be completely evitable, then why not change the conditions?

Because the technological fixes being proposed would not be confined to accuracy errors, partly because the boundary between accuracy and judgment issues is fuzzy but mainly because once technology’s in place people do tend to trust it, appropriately or not. (In this thread we’ve seen technology seriously proposed as an antidote to diving, of all things.)

would you similarly oppose the introduction of security camera, DNA, forensic, etc. evidence into the courtroom as it only interferes with the exercise of judgment?

I would oppose over-reliance on any or all of those things – evidence doesn’t speak for itself, and I do think that a parade of scientific certainty can interfere with the exercise of judgment.

The application of a set of rules to events on a pitch is no more ineffable than the application of a set of laws to the events of a pub brawl.

True, but not really evidence either way – in neither case does looking at the CCTV tell you who started it.

And, in the case of football, there is also the issue of delay & interruption of the flow of the match. Of course it’s possible to add technology to issues where a judgment call is needed, and it can be beneficial if used with appropriate care. But in this case it would be almost certain to slow down the proceedings to an unacceptable – or at least game-changing – extent.

249

Philip 06.30.10 at 8:36 pm

‘A player can, in theory, be booked in the 90th minute for an offence committed in the 90th second.’

How could a ref give a yellow card to a player without having played advantage or given a freecick?

He can’t decide to give a yellow card once he restarts play, from the rules on FIFA’s website (p.22): ‘The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.’

250

chris 06.30.10 at 8:55 pm

In this thread we’ve seen technology seriously proposed as an antidote to diving, of all things.

You don’t think there are any cases where viewing the action from another angle, or seeing something that he happened to not be looking at when it took place, would allow the referee to judge better (not merely differently) whether a dive had occurred?

AFAIK, nobody has suggested that technology could *completely* eliminate diving, or infallibly flag all instances of it (which would amount to eliminating it since it would be pointless if it didn’t work reasonably often, or if it was penalized far more often than it worked).

There’s a substantial number of cases where someone watching live TV knows more about what happened on the field than the referee does, in real time. I’m not suggesting the extra official should just watch the TV broadcast (that would open up the possibility for the broadcaster to influence the officials) but the warnings of hypothetical unspecified technical difficulties ring rather hollow when the TV stations have already figured out how to instant replay the right angle, from the right time, within a few seconds of the play they are replaying (and before play has resumed, in many cases). Indeed, it’s *because* TV stations have already solved this problem that there is fan pressure on the officials to adopt it — because at least then the officials will be able to see what the fans are seeing and judge on the basis of that evidence and not merely the vantage point they happened to have when the play occurred.

251

ejh 06.30.10 at 9:52 pm

Indeed, it’s because TV stations have already solved this problem

No, they haven’t. The claim that it has derives, as much does in this debate, from arguing backwards. We see an event live, we then look at it on the replay, on the replay it’s obvious, hence we know that we could have spotted the error straightaway.

But in fact, in practice, when replays actually have to be applied, in cricket or in either code of rugby, it is a time-consuming process in which (as stated ad nauseam upthread) several angles must be checked, in case one sees something from one angle that wasn’t evident from another, and because overturning the officials’ decision is a serious matter than one cannot do in a few seconds.

(Just as on Tuesday night, we could all see straightaway that nobody touched Capdevila and that Ricardo Costa’s dismissal was a joke. Except, that, when looking at some other replays, it wasn’t so imple. As, of course, things that are deemed to be easy and simple never actually are.)

This is reality. But the video replay, it seems to me, functions as a form of magic. The qualities ascribed to it are unreal, but they are all the more powerful in the minds of believers because of that.

So next time you see a wrong decision – as you will in the very next game you see – why not just shout “Abracadabra!”? Because that’s just as likely to do the trick.

252

Phil 06.30.10 at 11:38 pm

You don’t think there are any cases where viewing the action from another angle, or seeing something that he happened to not be looking at when it took place, would allow the referee to judge better (not merely differently) whether a dive had occurred?

I’ve already answered this question, so I’ll just quote myself. “Of course it’s possible to add technology to issues where a judgment call is needed, and it can be beneficial if used with appropriate care. But in this case it would be almost certain to slow down the proceedings to an unacceptable – or at least game-changing – extent.”

253

Ollie 07.01.10 at 2:27 am

Philip @249

Does the word ‘change’ mean anything to you?

There are instances where decisions can be delayed, the most obvious example relates to violent conduct. The reason decisions are not delayed is because referees would give calls they see ‘instantly’ where they see such decisions. Where they do not, they still usually wouldn’t be any wiser till they see the broadcast after the game. If the referee found out 90 seconds after a violent act, he can still give a red card so long as it has been flagged by the officials.

There are time limits on some refereeing decisions, but not on all of them.

No, they haven’t. The claim that it has derives, as much does in this debate, from arguing backwards. We see an event live, we then look at it on the replay, on the replay it’s obvious, hence we know that we could have spotted the error straightaway.
Nonsense, of course.

The replay clip is chosen by humans (and machines) in the broadcast move who usually saw the action live, flagged it, and then replayed it. Yes you can identify an incident faster than you can judge it but your gripe seems to be with the notion that somebody, having the advantage of video, might see an incident in real time. Except that it’s not even 1 person doing the looking. There are 12-34 cameras at some football stadiums with appropriate sized crews.

This is reality. But the video replay, it seems to me, functions as a form of magic. The qualities ascribed to it are unreal, but they are all the more powerful in the minds of believers because of that.

All of these things have been demonstrated. The technology to automatically detect all offsides based on video in real-time already exists today. This technology, combined with expert referee eyes will yield correct refereeing decisions in as much time as current refereeing process does. It’s not magic. It’s technology.

But in fact, in practice, when replays actually have to be applied, in cricket or in either code of rugby, it is a time-consuming process in which (as stated ad nauseam upthread) several angles must be checked, in case one sees something from one angle that wasn’t evident from another, and because overturning the officials’ decision is a serious matter than one cannot do in a few seconds.

Cricket isn’t football. Football isn’t Rugby.

You can choose to overturn referee decisions, or you can choose to give them assistance.

254

Ollie 07.01.10 at 2:36 am

True, but not really evidence either way – in neither case does looking at the CCTV tell you who started it.

Interesting that you mention brawls. Under the current rules of football, when there is a brawl, the referee and assistants are required to observe proceedings with a view to taking action. Since brawls, of necessity, lead to delays in the game, you’ve just supplied another example of how video assistance can help referees make better decisions without adding delays.

The video assistant can just tell the referee what he’s observed along the lines of “Maradona headbutted Pele”, and the referee can take action.

255

sg 07.01.10 at 3:08 am

surely the implication of this objection to assisting the referee with videos is that, if the ref hadn’t seen Zidane headbutt that hapless Brazilian, then the Brazilian should have received a yellow card for diving/time-wasting and Zidane gets off scot-free?

How else could it pan out, without a video ref to aid the referee, if the referee didn’t see the act?

256

boconnor 07.01.10 at 6:43 am

“They get a small number of accuracy issues verifiably wrong,… “

But surely some wrong decisions (goals, red card send-offs) are game changing – its those decisions that, for the benefit of the game, should be correct or at least quickly corrected.

How about:
1) a video ref.
2) each team captain gets to make 1 (or max 2) requests for a review of the on-field ref’s call per half.
3) video ref must make decision within some time limit (60, 90 seconds) else on-field ref’s call is automatically upheld.

I guess it would be incidents like the England no-goal and the red card stuff that would get the review, and quite rightly so, and not miscellaneous diving.

257

ejh 07.01.10 at 7:15 am

Except that it’s not even 1 person doing the looking.

Er, yes it is. One person needs to be appointed to review the evidence and make decisions or inform the referee as to what he or she has seen.

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Philip 07.01.10 at 7:50 am

Ollie, once the referee stops play he has effectively decided that no other offences occured earlier in that period of play, otherwise he would have had to stop play earlier or give advantage. If there is an incident of violent conduct during play the play has to be stopped and a freekick awarded.

How can a referee give a freekick for a passage of play that has stopped and then play restarted for another reason? Can you give one example of a ref giving a freekick or card after play has stopped and been restarted?

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stostosto 07.01.10 at 8:38 am

GP,

obviously we will see tomorrow about Holland and Brazil. What you say about Holland being good at possession may be true to some extent. But up to now they have played Denmark (2-0), Cameroun (2-1), Japan (1-0) and Slovakia (2-1). I haven’t seen all these matches, but I haven’t been greatly impressed by what I have seen.

To be fair, Brazil hasn’t impressed me all that much either, but they are in a completely different league from Holland’s previous opponents, even if they may have some of those midfield creativity problems that you are talking about (even if they aren’t nearly as dependent on Kaka as you estimate). They have a very strong defensive organisation this time around, they are determined and focused, and they still manage glimpses of the sublime which is all they need to beat Holland.

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ejh 07.01.10 at 9:04 am

Well, a strong defence and glimpses of the sublime would beat nearly any team, wouldn’t it?

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stostosto 07.01.10 at 9:09 am

ejh:

Exactly…which is why I pick Brazil to win the WC yet again.

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Ollie 07.01.10 at 1:25 pm

Philip,

once the referee stops play he has effectively decided that no other offences occured earlier in that period of play, otherwise he would have had to stop play earlier or give advantage. If there is an incident of violent conduct during play the play has to be stopped and a freekick awarded.

It doesn’t apply to any incident the referee has not seen. Under current refereeing processes, the referee is supposed to stop play as soon as he has been informed of an instance of violent conduct. But there is no limitation in the rules on when he can be informed. The other officials are required to inform the referee as soon as they observe violent conduct but there is no time limitation on how long after the act they observe it. If video assistants become part of the match officials, then the video assistant can detect an offence 2 minutes later and tell the referee. That’d be consistent with the laws of the game.

How can a referee give a freekick for a passage of play that has stopped and then play restarted for another reason? We weren’t talking about giving free kicks, we’re talking about punishing violent conduct, the standard punishment being a sending-off.

Can you give one example of a ref giving a freekick or card after play has stopped and been restarted?
Let me guess what you’re asking here. You’re asking for an instance in which an offence happened, the referee gave a free kick, and then restarted play? That’d be the only way that question could make sense.

My answer would be that it never happens that a referee stops play, gives a free kick, play is restarted and then the referee stops play a second time for the same offence and gives a card or free kick. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about an act that wasn’t immediately detected, and hadn’t been punished, which the referee is now aware of. The referee would still immediately stop play, send the player off for violent conduct and restart play accordingly.

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GP 07.01.10 at 2:30 pm

@ Stostosto: Que Deus te ouça.

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Philip 07.01.10 at 2:35 pm

‘The other officials are required to inform the referee as soon as they observe violent conduct but there is no time limitation on how long after the act they observe it.’

Yes there is – before play is restarted for another offence.

‘We weren’t talking about giving free kicks, we’re talking about punishing violent conduct, the standard punishment being a sending-off.’

Then the game is restarted with a freekick from where the offence occured, or a penalty. If the referee is sending off a player from a previous play the there would have to be a rule change as to how play is restarted.

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ejh 07.01.10 at 3:01 pm

Well, you could have a drop ball or something. But in practice it doesn’t matter, because it’s not the game. The referee is the sole interpreter, and what that the ref doesn’t see, his heart doesn’t grieve over.

Meanwhile, back in civilisation:

Lahm

Orwell

266

Ollie 07.01.10 at 3:11 pm

@264

Yes there is – before play is restarted for another offence.

Absolutely not. This is hilarious.

Here are 2 points from the lotg which address this issue and show that the lotg acknowledge that the referee might miss certain acts on the field, be informed of them afterwards.

must indicate to the referee when the wrong player is cautioned
because of mistaken identity or when a player is not sent off having been
seen to be given a second caution or when violent conduct occurs out of
the view of the referee and assistant referees. The referee, however, retains
the authority to decide on all points connected with play

AND

Whenever the assistant referee signals for violent conduct and the signal is not
seen immediately:
• if play has been stopped for disciplinary action to be taken, the restart must
be in accordance with the Laws (free kick, penalty kick etc.)
• if play has already restarted, the referee may still take disciplinary action but
not penalise the offence with a free kick of penalty kick

The lotg allows for the fact that the referee might not see violent conduct and allows for him to be informed of it after which he must act immediately. Any restart of play restrictions on when the decision can be made count only from when the referee has observed the act or been informed of it.

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ejh 07.01.10 at 3:45 pm

Ollie, you’ve missed out that the power you mention are vested in the fourth official, who has to be qualified for that role – i.e. it’s not just a member of Joe Public*. That’s why they wear the same gear as the others. It’s not a open invitation to allow scrutiny by any unqualified person.

[* or Jimmy Hill, for those of us with very long memories]

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Ollie 07.01.10 at 3:56 pm

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Ollie 07.01.10 at 4:02 pm

Ollie, you’ve missed out that the power you mention are vested in the fourth official, who has to be qualified for that role – i.e. it’s not just a member of Joe Public*. That’s why they wear the same gear as the others. It’s not a open invitation to allow scrutiny by any unqualified person.

Oh, thanks for reminding me of this moot point.

Just where has ANYBODY suggested that unqualified members of *Public Enemy* or “Joe Public” should scrutinise refereeing decisions?

Surely it’s occured to you that the list of match officials can be enlarged to include a video assistant or a 5th official, or even a veejay, such a person nevertheless being trained and qualified to perform that function?

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ejh 07.01.10 at 4:07 pm

Surely it’s occured to you that the list of match officials can be enlarged to include a video assistant or a 5th official, or even a veejay, such a person nevertheless being trained and qualified to perform that function?

Yes of course. But how many people did you want to be involved here?

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Philip 07.01.10 at 4:44 pm

Ollie, okay my mistake about violent conduct. But when you said ‘But many other decisions are not time-bound. There is no statute of limitations in football.’ Did you mean that few decisions are time-bound and there is a statute of limitations for most offences. Examples of the wrong player being given a card or a player being given two yellows and not being sent off are very rare and most games don’t have an incident of violent conduct.

If you were to extend this to other offences it would be a pretty major change to the game, and that is what I initially reacted to. To be clear here violent conduct basically refers to uses excessive force or brutality in incident off the ball, and not, say, a bad tackle.

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Ollie 07.01.10 at 6:15 pm

But when you said ‘But many other decisions are not time-bound. There is no statute of limitations in football.’ Did you mean that few decisions are time-bound and there is a statute of limitations for most offences.

Call it rhetorical flourish, or plain old exaggeration.

Examples of the wrong player being given a card or a player being given two yellows and not being sent off are very rare and most games don’t have an incident of violent conduct.

True, and you could also rightly add that retroactive punishment for violent conduct or wrong handling of cautions/sending offs already exists.

But what about simulation? There are cases where a player is elbowed in the face and holds his nuts.

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Philip 07.01.10 at 7:11 pm

Well he’s more likely to be hit in the nuts and hold his face as that is more likely to get the opposition player sent off. WRT to simulation many cases are not so clear cut – was it a trip, fall, or dive? It’s the referee’s interpretation as to whether the player was trying to con the ref. There is a slippery slope argument leading to ‘well what about all offences?’. then you would have a major change to how the game flows. I wouldn’t be against some trials to see how different usage of video replays effects the game, but overall I’m sceptical.

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Keir 07.02.10 at 4:59 am

Hang on, that from the laws of the game is merely a tidy up piece to say that the 4th official can correct clerical errors, and can draw attention to, say, a sub punching the other coach or whatever, things the ref couldn’t be expected to see. It has nothing to do with the rest of the game, of which the ref remains the final arbiter, forever and ever amen.

And violent conduct is one of the more nasty automatic reds, and that’s a particularly narrowly written law for the very reason they don’t want clever buggers like you reading it as a licence to re-litigate things over and over.

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belle le triste 07.02.10 at 1:19 pm

The following Tanzanian recreation utterly redeems the Lampard decision, and anyone who disagrees is a stony-hearted robot dimwit and tennis fan:

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Ollie 07.02.10 at 1:20 pm

Philip,

What about penalty shoot-outs. I’ve seen penalty shoot-outs where the ball went in, or infringements occurred and the officials didn’t give the goal, or gave the goal dsepite the infringements.

Keir,

It has nothing to do with the rest of the game, of which the ref remains the final arbiter, forever and ever amen.

That’s an odd statement. The 4th official informing the referee of an infringement he might have missed doesn’t stop the referee being the final arbiter. Not in the slightest. Zidane headbutted Materazzi. The 4th official told the referee who had the option to act or not act.

It’s also extremely ridiculous to suggest that the 4th official’s role only relates to things the referee couldn’t be expected to see. It applies to anything.

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Bill Gardner 07.02.10 at 1:31 pm

Can we have a Tour de France open thread?

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daelm 07.02.10 at 10:42 pm

stostosto , how’s that brazil prediction feeling round about now?

d

279

Bloix 07.03.10 at 1:31 am

ejh must have just loved the Ghana-Uruguay game. Another game won by the cheaters. My god this world cup sucks.

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Bill Gardner 07.03.10 at 5:17 am

Another game won by the cheaters. My god this world cup sucks.

An appropriate comment for the first day of the Tour. Keep this in mind when people dismiss cyclists as dopers.

281

sg 07.03.10 at 5:43 am

but Bloix, on the upside, those perennial cheaters – Brazil – went down a man and lost to Holland, so there is some justice…

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Philip 07.03.10 at 12:38 pm

Bloix, only after Ghana missed a penalty, which came from a freekick they probably shouldn’t have been given, and Uruguay had a very good penalty shout turned down. I thought it was a great game.

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Earnest O'Nest 07.03.10 at 1:11 pm

It was a great match with a great finish; we can only hope that they avenge Brasil against a team that has done the least anyone has ever had to do to get to the semi-finals.

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Bloix 07.03.10 at 2:55 pm

Okay, it was a great game, but it was a heart-breaker. Maybe soccer needs a goal-tending rule.

Did Muller actually head that ball? I’ve seen the replay now about 10 times and it doesn’t look to me like he made contact.

285

Freshly Squeezed Cynic 07.03.10 at 7:06 pm

ejh must have just loved the Ghana-Uruguay game. Another game won by the cheaters. My god this world cup sucks.

Ghana had a penalty given and an opposing player sent off. That they did not convert this fantastic opportunity to win the match says more about Ghana than it does about Uruguay.

The referee made the correct decision in both cases. What more, exactly, would you have given them?

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Earnest O'Nest 07.04.10 at 8:42 am

@284: if the trajectory of the ball abruptly changes, chances are it hit something.

Anyway, as this thread started with England, I think it is befitting to conclude now that England gave most trouble to the best team in it. If they had the luck of playing Brasil, they were in semi-final without actually trying to score a goal.

For those interested: compare the reactions of Spain after eliminating Paraguay (having played fairly – but certainly not better than the others) with those of the Dutch after eliminating Brasil (having been outperformed by the opponent – and having played poorly even at the times they scored); somehow you would want the latter to qualify for the final such that they can be well & truely humiliated by the Germans.

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stostosto 07.05.10 at 2:23 pm

OK, Brazil went out, Holland has a good chance of going to the final, and I shouldn’t be making predictions. I remain mystified about it though.

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stostosto 07.06.10 at 10:55 pm

This thread scrolled out of the screen. Very much in the way that Holland didn’t.

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