Refs, Red Cards And Replays

It was a clear red.

it was never a red.

He could have broken his opponent’s leg.

He never touched him.

The studs were up.

The studs were down.

He was out of control.

He was pushed.

He had both feet off the ground.

He had both feet on the ground when he made the tackle.

It was a dangerous tackle.

He got the ball.

The ref was wrong not to send Rojo off for what looked like a two footed tackle.

The ref was wrong to send Vardy off for what didn’t look like a two footed tackle.

It’s ironic that football referees are constantly condemned for making wrong decisions that, even in hindsight, with the benefit of countless replays, the fans and pundits cannot agree on.

After yet another weekend of controversial decisions, from Jamie Vardy’s sending off for a two footed tackle by the same referee who didn’t send off Marcos Rojo on Wednesday for a two footed tackle, to two offsides in both of City’s goals against Arsenal, to Spurs’ Sissoko escaping a red card for a high tackle and going on to set up the winning goal, football officiating never seems to be off the back pages.

Ironically, video replays were used in competition for the first time last week at the Club World Cup, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino declaring the results “extremely positive”.  But if anyone thinks video replays are a panacea for football, they will be sorely disappointed.  Unfortunately for the sport, the majority of decisions in football are not clear-cut.  They are not about whether a ball is on the line or not, in line or moving away, or if a ball is caught or not.  Footballing decisions require interpretation of the rules and depend on individual judgment from the referee on the day.  Even with the benefit of video replays, a different referee could easy come to a different conclusion.

Of course, if the technology is available, it should be used, even if simply to clarify a decision.  But it’s not the whole answer and it never can be.  Controversy will always reign in football; which side of the fence you sit on will invariably depend on which team you support.  It is the joy and the frustration of football.  It is what makes football so eminently watchable.  Football is like an endless sporting soap opera.  An argument without end.  And, in truth, football fans wouldn’t have it otherwise.

 

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