Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 35223

Other 11/13/2023

RE: competitive Under 15

Michael of Broomfield, Colorado United States asks...

I need to do an interview for my research paper, could you answer these questions.

How long do you think we have before officiating is only technology? Or do you think there will always be human interaction?

What is innovative about your research?

What has been your role so far in developing research ideas and carrying them forward?

What major companies have been a key part of the growth of technology in soccer/football officiating?

What are some of the big roadblocks/problems there are in robotic officiating?

Do you think technology in soccer/football officiating is good or bad?

What are the next steps to improve the technology in soccer/football officiating?

Why do you think professional leagues should move away from human refereeing?

Answer provided by Referee MrRef

HI Mike,
You are better off asking the IFAB/FIFA HQs and the USSF office for a true appraisal of the demise or relevant factors that affect football across the world.
As individual officials each of us here could impart an opinion, or preference, but no practical application as to the directions it will take.

When a group of kids or adults gather to play a game of soccer the necessity for technology is not a requirement, simply a reasonable attitude of competition and sportsmanship. By appointing a neutral referee or group of officials this acknowledges there are disputes that require an arbitrator to use in agreeing to disagree & yet move the game from start to finish in a safe manner.

The professional games & world cup events, no matter the age group or nations, is comprised of high expectations with incredible pressures to perform. Achieving victory for the teams and players, accolades from their respective nations. All we want to do as officials is not mess up! The subjective opinion of perception, permeates the game. Like any corporate entity, once tied in with money, ethics and power, it almost forces corruption to unfold, even if the stated goal of fair play and entertainment are put forth as the purpose.

That essentially is why technology was implemented, to HELP the on field officials not to mess up. To assuage the opinions that their perceived injustice was not so. To reaffirm the correct decisions, prevent incorrect decisions and, if need be, correct a wrong decision, BEFORE it affects the match in a way it cannot be undone!

Matches are filmed, recorded, dissected and pulled apart. They even reshow the events at the very venue it occurs on the big overhead TV cyclotrons highlighting any (be it right or wrong) discrepancy. We can stop, start, rewind, slow down and freeze frame every single incident! With great accuracy determine if a ball is in or out of play, if a player is even marginally offside positioned thus restricted from involvement or if the ball is fully across the goal line under the crossbar between the posts for a goal.

Without human interaction what game is there?

The professional or elite level of the game has the financial clout & support from the national associations to afford & utilize technology because a great deal more than pride rests on the decisions made! Entire careers & opportunities to play at various levels and WC competitions are based on RESULTS! Team league advancement to rise up in the divisions and for each referee is the certainty that each match, each decision builds a reputation they
must live up to. All that said it is the dynamics of the human factor that are integrated into the game. Even if we can add some tech oversight at the top end we should not, in fact we could not, move away from human refereeing!

Individually, each referee should be a role model of integrity and honour, setting the stage for others collectively, as firm & fair, making split second decisions in REAL time , based on our angle of view, at the moment it occurs. The ARs assist with such on the FOP as the technological VAR is revaluating the incident from multiple angles and with freeze frame technology all the while communicating to the CR via the headphones

I can accept that innovative change is occasionally necessary but it must have purpose that creates a better circumstance. So if the tec secures a better product to WATCH and enjoy then we can adapt to it. The key component is to have the game unfolding in real time, not stop/start and debate every decision waiting to measure within a thousandth on an inch was he, or was he not, offside. The good is identifying important decisions that might get overlooked! The bad? How long is the delay ? How often, possibly undermining the confidence of the referee, relying on VAR to make the tough decisions?

If you pay attention at these sporting venues, the excitement generated is astounding yet too so is the accountability and consquences, not just to the players and managers for contracts and playing time, but to the official referee "Game management" and his or her ability to withstand this pressure exerted by their peers, spectators, coaches, parents, players, political agendas, power agendas, local organisations, lobbyists and news media.

I do not believe people have a realistic understanding of the coercion or duress referees are subject to at the elite level of this wonderful, fun GAME. It is different, but even at the grassroots dissenting BS from the touchlines is what destroys the young referees from continuing.

At the grassroot level have you ever noticed needless tensions and adversarial attitudes that develop even while watching a recreational fun soccer match.? How such can affect your disposition, irritate, even cause violence? So instead of attention on the benefit to the youth adults are squabbling like screeching monkeys that had their banana taken away.

Can you discern that when playing the game as a player or watching the game as a fan, parent, coach and referee and arrive at the realization how we all SEE the same game differently? In an old article, " Are we still on the same side when we disagree? " I remarked there are four points of view from which a game is perceived

1 Players/parents see what they feel
2 Coaches see what they wants to see
3 Spectators see what they think they see
4 Referees see what they see,

Having said that, watch this video,
it perfectly illustrates the best and worst of humanity on how we view the game.
I can not recall another incident in which these views were so clearly illustrated.

Hopefully the full disclosure of the difficulties "Esse" Baharmast was forced to endure following a disputed penalty call during the final minutes of the Brazil versus Norway match in the 98 World Cup will provide some insight. Esse was not aware of the implications his late penalty call was going to generate until the world press vilified him with the most outrageous comments and press releases One cannot really imagine that on a single incident when you as an individual will be judged guilty for all time since you can not defend what the cameras saw or rather did not see. After you watch, consider if that picture had NOT been taken?

The Hand-held camera behind the goal and the teamwork of friends vindicated not only the decision but also the true measure of integrity and courage it takes to not only play the game but to officiate it effectively under tension and inquisition by your peers, players, coaches, spectators and politically correct agendas be it worldwide, nation wide, province wide or city wide or town wide.

Within 48 hours, Esfandiar "Esse" Baharmast went from worldwide vilification to complete vindication, The Norwegian network NRK posted a still frame of the play on its web page, clearly showing the tugged jersey.

While you can use the internet to find out the names of the companies that provide the tec or the monies that support the industry keep this in mind.
Humanity is a socially engineered construct of body, heart, mind and soul.
No matter what innovated technology allows for some change, what faith one has or how one decides to embrace a belief does not change this fundamental aspect of humanity . A good person does what is right for no other reason than it is, whether someone else offers praise or performed in obscurity .

Possessing courage, having a backbone to stand for something does not require you give up empathy, nor is a gesture of kindness a weakness. What we TRULY need is a personal TRANSFORMATION of those people on this planet to be a better standard of humans then we seem to be currently producing. It is ridiculous in this age, to destroy and blame everything on everyone. I hope you can rise to the challenge by understanding that integrity is the gift of self respect, no one takes it, you give it away and once done, it becomes very difficult to get it back,

Whether it is the whining from the touchlines or the anguish of war.
The world should work so much better than it does.
Such an easy concept to say, but apparently difficult to do.

Read other questions answered by Referee MrRef

View Referee MrRef profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
Some big ticket questions in your research brief and all would be well above our pay grade.

One of my first jobs many many years ago was in banking and I recall a manager telling us in a briefing that bank teller work would be done by machines in the not too distant future and I thought he was nuts. How could a machine do a bank tellers role?
At the time I could not comprehend it yet it came to pass and now so common place.

So for the moment I can only envisage technology only doing decisions of fact not subjective decisions. For subjective decisions I think technology would be a long way off in offering any viable solution

As to the companies that are involved in technology development I think it would be sensor technology, vision systems, worn technology etc. would all be key. Companies like Hawkeye seem to be doing smart things in game technology.
Adidas has done a lot of work on its Smart Ball which was used in the last World Cup which is able to give data about location, contact on it in real time etc.

At the moment there is talk of automating offside decisions which I think may be possible with all the relevant data being readily available to be uploaded into an automated reading system. Ball position, player position, who played the ball last would all be factors that are currently available and it would not take much to automate those into a decision.

So for matters of fact such as ball location, who last touched the ball, player location can all be factored into certain decisions. For subjective decisions I just cant see any technology solution offering a solution apart from better data being made available to a referee to help in the decision making process.

As to whether technology is good or bad depends on what is meant by good or bad. Making correct decisions is good yet if it uses up too much time to achieve that it can be seen as bad. Does anyone really like to wait for up to 2 minutes to confirm a goal.

Ultimately it is still a game and while there is always a clamour about refereeing decisions I just think it is part of the game. I also think that the vast majority of the game will still be at the bottom end of the pyramid which is bereft of technology and will be for a very long time simply because there are limited resources.
Hawkeye technology would be somewhere close to $250k per venue and then the operating cost for a year would be huge. Compare that to the cost of three match officials per game and there would need to be a lot at stake to justify it. At the moment its only high Pro level games with a lot at stake or important tournaments such as a World Cup that can justify same.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35223
Read other Q & A regarding Other

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>