Let’s get one thing straight. I am an avid football fan and my team (Liverpool) have been on the wrong end of as many bad refereeing decisions as any other. I get as incandescent as anyone else about penalties not given, ridiculous red cards and bad offside calls. I also understand that the debates in the aftermath of such atrocities keep us all interested. To an extent controversy does fuel interest in the game but even I have now had enough. The magnificent theatre that is football is getting lost behind an ocean of debate and media coverage, not about the sporting action but about refereeing decisions and player’s antics off the ball.
Media and Social Networking
At first glance it is difficult to imagine what can be done about the situation. We live in a world dominated by media outlets and social networking. The nano second after any incident occurs there are journalists and broadcasters queuing up to dissect it and the tweets and Facebook posts have started. Within minutes there has been a forensic analysis of the episode that any crime bureau would be proud of and then the recriminations start. Never mind the fantastic football match what about that yellow card? These insidious debates are now powering a hatred of referees and bitterness between players that just goes on and on and it is spilling over onto the terraces. I can see the bad days of 1970’s hooliganism rearing its ugly head again.
I believe a lot of the current troubles could be put to bed almost before they have started with the use of modern technology. I don’t mean the goal line camera variety either, although that would help. Lately most of the big talking points have surrounded the issue of what has been said on the pitch. The Mark Clattenburg controversy is a perfect example. Did he make a racist comment or not? If he did what was the provocation? Perhaps if he was wearing a recording device or even a video camera the matter would be solved instantly. The small helmet cameras used in other sports are now readily available and would not only immediately reveal the truth of a situation, their use would also probably stop a lot of the bad behaviour in the first place. The footage would not even have to be broadcast live, merely reviewed after an issue has arisen. Microphones around the pitch would be a great help as well. The incident between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand is another case in point. Nobody knows who said what to who and why, It is possible that even the two players involved have inaccurate recall. This argument has run for over a year, caused untold disruption and is appears to be still escalating. Recording devices would have settled this the same day, apologies could have been made, punishments handed down and then on we go. I don’t want to belittle the issue of racism in the game, it has to be wiped out, but as it stands players can accuse anyone of saying just about anything and whilst nothing can be proven the mud certainly sticks.
Helmet type cameras would also stop the avalanche of criticism that drops on a referee’s head after an incorrect decision. It is all very well reviewing the incident in the television studio from 20 different camera angles but isn’t it time to have a look at exactly what the poor official could actually see? The referee may be closer to the players than the TV camera but his line of sight may be blocked and he doesn’t have slow motion replay. Let’s get people talking about the drama of the sport after the match, not the officials. In view of the amount of post-match discussion there is about offside decisions it might be a good idea to equip the referees assistants with cameras as well.
Maybe, just maybe, if we knew what was actually being said on the pitch and why referees make the decisions they do we could halt a tsunami of ill will and recrimination flattening our beautiful game. If the players behave themselves and broadcasters shut up, the fans are more likely to follow suit and we don’t have to be looking over our shoulders at past times coming back to haunt us all over again.
- License: Creative Commons image source
S. Stacey is a guest blogger with a passion for sport, especially her favourite team Liverpool FC. This post has been written in association with Vision MX who sell helmet cameras suitable for multiple sports.