The debate got going again in Italy two weeks ago. When Juventus stole a victory from Catania due to bad calls from linesmen and referee, several people called for the use of video evidence. But even more people should have raised their voice. To be fair to Juventus they didn’t steal the win as such. They took advantage of the extremely difficult work conditions we give our refs. Those work conditions should be improved as soon as possible, and while video evidence might not be the solution to end all troubles it’s the only way to go right now.
Each time a dubious call is made, and followers of Italian football will know that that is quite often, conspiracies are rising. Each time a wrong call is made presidents, managers, and journalists are hinting that it’s not coincidental. And they are right. It’s not. It is however not a result of bribing or shady phone calls, not normally anyway. The reason is that the ref’s job is much harder than he can cope with – no matter how good he is.
The repeated mistakes leading to wrong goals or wrong calls in disallowing goals happen because the football is too fast and too complex to the human eye. It’s a huge irony that the people in charge of the decisions have much worse work conditions than the pundits and presidents lambasting their calls after the game. We need to give the refs proper work conditions. We need to enter the 21th century. We need to start to use TV in order to put fairness back into football. Now.
Every time a legal goal is disallowed due to an error by the ref the result of the game is altered artificially. If someone in the FA after the game said ”you know what? Shouldn’t we just give Catania a goal less today?” and then changed the result, there would be outrage. In fact it sounds (almost) to absurd to happen. Why is it we accept that a representative from the FA, the ref, alters the result during the game? Conservatism. Nothing else.
The fear that the use of video will start a slippery slope of breaks, which will take the ”charm” and ”flow” out of football is hugely exaggerated and also just plain wrong. Taking legal goals away from a team or giving goals to a team that didn’t score them is not charming. It’s theft. That some part of the Juventus leadership claimed that the disallowed goal in Catania didn’t matter because their team ”dominated anyway” is just laughable. You don’t deserve a victory by dominating. You deserve a victory by scoring. Catania scored. Juventus did not.
It’s important to me to stress that I don’t accuse Juventus of cheating. It’s the other way around. I want to protect Juventus, and any other team, from being accused of cheating week in and week out. The easiest way to do that is making it much harder to cheat. If the ref and everyone else can see the ball crossing the line in slow motion, it’ll be pretty hard for him to abstain from giving the goal no matter how much money (or vodka or fur or ladies) he has received before the match. Juve won the game against Catania, even if they didn’t, but they also become target of even more hate and more distrust than before. The latter is far worse than the first.
That the Juventus board failed to acknowledge that they were wrongfully given the victory and that we should prevent those situations in the future was a huge chance lost. They would have been fair and we would have been closer a solution to the situation where teams are robbed almost every week. A goal is a goal and an offside is an offside. We need a good way to see when they happen. What is so hard to understand? The technical side of it is not an issue. All it takes is a monitor on the sideline.
The lack of debate regarding the use of video evidence almost looks like a conspiracy in itself even if I’m sure it isn’t. It’s just stubbornness or laziness in the media, the FA, the club boards, FIFA and among the players. Someone should speak out. I’m baffled that the more or less (especially more) mad Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini was one of the few to actually speak sense two weeks ago. His sensible calls for video evidence were met with silence – at least as far as I understand.
The silence indicates that a lot of people are apparently willing to accept theft as a part of football. Think about that.
Photo by Live & Basic