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Question Number: 29556

League Specific 7/25/2015

RE: Professional Professional

bob of bay area, ca usa asks...

If soccer was to adopt an instant replay review system, what would you guys think the best way to use it would be? My thoughts:

All reviews are by a central area by a third party official, either back at some headquarters or in a secret booth at the stadium

1. Have all red cards and penalty kicks undergo a mandatory review

2. Somehow be able to use the fact that TV broadcasts have a perfect offside line 15 seconds after an offside call to either disallow a goal scored when a player was offside, or allow a goal that was scored but the player was called offside

3. Give managers 1-2 replays per game to use on fouls they feel should have been called, either on the field or in the box


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
At one time I was a great supporter of technology. I'm not so sure any more having seen the evolution of the review system in other sports. I also believe that the stakes are now so high and with huge media interest that the most minor of decisions are reviewed and questioned. Referees will never win the battle with technology nor should they be expected to. In rugby now many referees will not make try decisions and go to review on everything that is not stonewall. If there is the least sniff of a complaint the TMO (televised match official) is used. That process can take an age and most time just confirms the on-field decision.
I also think that if it is used that it is in the control of the match officials only. No set number of replays. A team could use its reviews unwisely and then the most blatant error might have to go unchallenged.
I also think that it should only be used for matter of fact. Opinion based decis9ons unless it is a matter of fact such as a blatant dive with no contact or a clear error should be corrected. I have watched countless replays on say penalty decisions and the recent Womens World Cup is an example. Some of the penalty decisions even on review were doubtful either way.
I think that we should review for unusual situations such as these
I think that the best way to manage this if the introduction of video replay ever does happen is to have a former senior referee sitting watching a monitor as part of the referee team. If the referee asks his assistance on any decision then it is done over the mic. In the Bundesliga example the referee could have been told that the ball went wide and that it was a goal kick and in the 2nd one a caution for simulation and an IDFK to the defending team.
Most other decisions in the game we just have to accept if they are right or wrong. That is part of the game. Decisions that are talked about afterwards for weeks as knowingly wrong with huge debate with possible repercussions are the decisions to focus on. Those could have been dealt with during the game using a TMO replay system.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Bob,
interesting thoughts,
perhaps a panel of referees watching monitors if 3/4 agree on a specific fact of play they relay their finding directly to the official on the field via radio who ultimately decides to accept their verdict or go with his own.
ii such things as
#12 red definite dive
#3 blue VC elbowed #4 yellow in head behind play
#6 green cleats to ankle overtop ball straight red
Ball out of play off white red corner/throw in
That way we get additional input but the field referee still calls the final shot? Never work though for grassroots play.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Not really a fan of it! It takes power away from referee and that was not the original intention as referee as FULL control of game. If it were used...I would only want the referee to look at it. Not some person 1000 miles away in a front office (like they do in pro baseball). I would say the referee could use the video at his make sure a critical call was correct AFTER A STOPPAGE.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


I am not against technology per se, but it would be extremely difficult to implement in soccer. Keep in mind that replay is used in other sports for decisions that are black and white (ie, did the receiver have both feet in bounds, did the ball go over the fence, was the foot on the three point line, etc.). If we were to apply the same philosophy to soccer, that would limit us to reviewing whether the ball fully crosses the goal line (Goal line technology), ball in and out of play, and the location of fouls (PK or not essentially).

In no sport do they review fouls. A foul is in the opinion of the referee and may appear different when viewed in slow motion and from different angles. Do we really want another person determining what may or may not be trifling for the on field official. That said, let's look at your suggestions:

1. Have all red cards and penalty kicks undergo a mandatory review

I am actually okay with this to a limited extent. I would review any red cards that were given for Violent Conduct or Serious Foul Play. That is it. Yes, these are ITOTR, but I would have the referee take 30 seconds and review the decision. No more to confirm the Red card or adjust to a Yellow or no card. This would not change the restart and I believe by having the official making the call look at it, you do not bring a potentially varying opinion into play. The call belongs to the referee.

As to penalty kicks, the only think I would review would be location. This could be done by the 4th official, again in 30 seconds or less.

That is it. No review for simulation. No review of yellow cards.

2. Somehow be able to use the fact that TV broadcasts have a perfect offside line 15 seconds after an offside call to either disallow a goal scored when a player was offside, or allow a goal that was scored but the player was called offside

This gets into muddy waters. If the offside call is NOT made and a goal is scored, we have a natural stoppage to review the play and the restart would be an IFK for the defending team.

If the offside call is incorrectly made, play is stopped and rarely is a goal scored off the continuation. While we could review the decision, the restart either way would be an IFK or a dropped ball (for the inadvertent whistle). There is no possible way to recreate the scoring opportunity at the time of the offside call if it is deemed incorrect.

Further, say that the flag stayed down when it should have come up. In the continuation of the future offside play, a defender is sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity and two other players are sent off in the resulting mass confrontation. What happens now when the play is reviewed and the offside call is made. Since everything from the offside onwards is now invalid, what do we do with the red cards?

There are too many possible pitfalls for the offside scenario to truly work except on absolutely 'clean' goals. I may be okay with reviewing those in the future if scenarios like my example above can be remedied. My biggest fear of reviewing offside though is that ARs would tend to leave the flag down even when they are 100% sure on close decisions knowing that the play will be reviewed if a goal is scored. This would negatively impact the game i feel because in reality, how many offside decisions lead to goals/goal scoring opportunities. Not that many...

3. Give managers 1-2 replays per game to use on fouls they feel should have been called, either on the field or in the box

Absolutely not. Similar to my example above with offside, how does this work? It can't be in the normal run of play. It would have to be at a stoppage. But how do we deal with all the garbage that happened in between. Say a goal is scored by the other team and the referee reviews the play and sees a foul which happened 4 minutes ago. Are we now going to take away the legitimate goal? What about the 4 minutes of play time that was just 'lost' because we are coming back to the original foul...

To summarize a bit, I am in favor of replay in limited situations where there is already a natural stoppage and where reviewing the replay will not change the outcome of the restart. I believe all replays would need to be reviewed by the referee and completed in less than 30 seconds. Outside of the points listed above, there are too many variables and questions to implement wider spread reviews.

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