A lot has been made of what appears to be a deterioration in the standard of refereeing over the last season or two, with officiating mistakes arguably more common in the Premier League than they have ever been. The constant criticism of the referees and the attention being drawn to their mistakes could actually be a good thing though, as the negative publicity may force the FA’s hand where video replays are concerned.
Arsene Wenger has been a strong advocate for introducing more technology into football, with the Arsenal manager insisting that the speed of the modern game has made video replays a necessity.
“I’m a long-time fan of it and, looking at the referees, their quality and the speed of the game, I think they need help and that video can be of a very good assistance,” Wenger is quoted as saying (via Arsenal.com).
It’s easy to see why so many managers, players, and fans are calling for the referees to be given more help, as there isn’t a single team in the English top flight that hasn’t been punished by poor officiating at one point or another. Mike Dean’s disastrous decision making when we played Chelsea last season is one game that immediately springs to mind, with an incident between Gabriel Paulista, Laurent Koscielny, and Diego Costa seeing the Brazilian handed his marching orders while the Chelsea man only saw yellow. Both decisions were later reversed, with Costa given a ban and Gabriel’s suspension overturned.
This season hasn’t been any better either, with a number of controversial refereeing decisions forcing the officials into the limelight. Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo should have seen red at least twice for two disgusting two-footed challenges (via the Mirror), but both times got away almost scot-free. Wenger has also complained about the referees on a couple of occasions this season, with our loss against Manchester City a real sore point for the Frenchman. Both City’s goals looked to be offside, with Wenger speaking in the wake of the defeat as to just how disappointed he was at the officiating (via the Daily Mail).
These errors obviously haven’t gone unnoticed, with the media storm growing with each major mistake made by the officials. Mike Dean – one of the main perpetrators – was even temporarily relegated to the Championship (via the Daily Mail) after a number of high profile errors. And the fact that so many are growing impatient with the substandard refereeing we’ve been subjected to recently could end up being a good thing, as the FA are obviously sitting up and taking notice.
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Introducing more technology into football obviously isn’t a decision that can be made overnight, as there are many who oppose the idea and want to prevent it from becoming a reality. Some believe that video replays will slow the game down and make it disjointed and fractured, while others believe that using technology to eliminate elements of the game like offside would take the debate, uncertainty, and excitement out of the game.
Goal-line technology has obviously been a success, but if more technology were rushed into the game only to experience failure, then there would be ructions. If the need and the demand for video replays becomes impossible for the FA to ignore though, then there could be few complaints even if things didn’t run entirely smoothly.
Wenger and a number of top managers are desperate to see video replays introduced, and if the majority of the footballing world continue to kick up a fuss and the referees continue making mistakes, then it seems likely that eventually the managers will see their wishes come true.