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January 23, 2012

Balotelli’s stamp again highlights the need for video technology

Super Mario or Evil Wario?

We’ve talked about video technology a lot on this site recently, but it’s almost getting to a stage where not a week goes by without a major incident highlighting the flaws of the modern day game.  The rules are simply outdated and FIFA and the FA are archaic institutions who do not know how to move with the times.

Yesterday’s game between Manchester City and Tottenham was a great spectacle between two genuine title contenders.  If Jermaine Defoe’s foot was an inch longer we’d probably all be praising Spurs today and the media would be talking up their title challenge even more.

Instead we are left with a sour taste in our mouths due to the antics of “mad” Mario Balotelli and the inefficiencies of the premier league disciplinary system .  Tonight the Italian has been charged with violent conduct after appearing to stamp on Scott Parker.  Following a dismissal earlier this season Balotelli, 21, faces a four-match ban.

The truth of the matter is that only Balotelli will know if he meant to hurt Parker, but I think it’s safe to say that his right leg moved away from its natural trajectory.  Howard Webb had what appeared to be a clear view of the incident and took no action, but it’s also a fair assumption that at full speed it could have been missed by the human eye.

The frustrating thing yet again is that within 30 seconds, the world watching at home had seen numerous replays of the incident.

Should he have been on the pitch?

Why isn’t the fourth official able to see these?  If the fourth official saw the replay and felt that any further action was to be taken, he could communicate that to the referee straight away.  Mario Balotelli may well have then been sent off, meaning that he wouldn’t have been on the pitch to score the winning penalty – which means the outcome is fair on Tottenham Hotspur.

As it was yesterday, because this technology wasn’t available  Tottenham end up losing the game which come the end of the season could cost them a place in the Champions League.

I really think that nowadays, all incidents should be resolved on the match day and there should be none of this retrospective punishment nonsense.

Howard Webb would have been consulted today, and as the FA have now charged Balotelli – the referee must have concluded that the incident constituted violent conduct.  Surely he could have come to that conclusion in the time it took for Scott Parker to recieve treatment?

Football has to move on like every other major sport has in the 21st century.  Tennis, Rugby, Cricket have all implemented technology to help the officials make major decisions.  Has that made those sports any less enjoyable?

No, is the simple answer.



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  1. Ephraim Greenland

    Like you said: “only Balotelli will know if he meant to hurt Parker”. How could a fourth official quickly make the call with or without video footage when the challenge is still being talked about and is still unresolved as to wether or not Baolotelli meant to hurt Scotty P!?

  2. What I was getting at is that it should be up to the officials on the day.  If they look at it and don’t see anything wrong then that’s the end of the story.  The fourth official should haver the power to call the attention of the referee if he sees on a monitor an incident of violent conduct missed by the referee so that he can take action straight away if necessary.  As it was, Howard Webb had to wait until today to look at it but that point Tottenham had lost the game.  Whichever way you cut it, that just isn’t a fair system.

    • Ephraim Greenland

      Ah, I see what you mean… where does it end though? Just the Premier League and Champions League? Or… Championship too… etc.
      You couldn’t put it in place in ALL 11-a-side footy across the board – so then it’s no longer a level playing field if there are different rules in place for Premier League game and Sunday League games…

  3. CG

    You win some, you lose some i say. The introduction of technology would not necessarily make everything fairer.

    Refs, linos and fourth officials deciding things on the day get it wrong as often as they get it right. There were two incidents they looked back on after that game – the Balotelli stamp and Lescott elbow. Everyone has decided that Lescott definitely didn’t mean it and Mario did, although only they will truly know. The officials could reach any decision wrongly or rightly before, during and after a game, with or without the help of technology. The point i’m trying to make is that whether or not they embrace technology, either side can just as easily be hard done by as a result of the decisions. For example, another ref might have decided Lescott should have seen red after seeing the replay. Even if he’d not intended to elbow Kaboul, he’d have been sent packing and Man City stitched up. 

    In the words of Jeremy Kyle: at the end of the day, fans, players and managers will always find something to moan about. Technology is not the answer to football’s prayers in my opinion. I could only see it being fair to deploy technology in situations where there can be no doubt as to the outcome, e.g. was that one a corner or goal kick? Did the ball cross even cross the line? But then again, you win some, you lose some! What goes around come around. Look at England v Germany.

  4. I do agree that officials will still make mistakes regardless, but I still think the system should allow for all decisions to happen during the game.  It should still be down to the referee’s judgement, but if he’s not given any help by the technology that is so readily available in the modern game then surely he is likely to make more mistakes?

  5. GM

    Its got to be more for assisting than anything. In the NFL if the ruling on the field is reviewed with video, it has to be clear, if there is still a debate then the original ref decision stands.

  6. CG

    There’s always the risk that it causes more issues than it solves. Also, once you open the door to introducing technology, the danger is that the floodgates will open. Then before you know it, we have the NFL. I love footy but a three-hour game between stoke and liverpool is the last thing anyone wants.

  7. GM

    Can’t really compare the two, NFL isn’t slow because of the replays, it is slow because it is the nature of the game, it is designed as a more strategic game, like a really voilent chess.
    Football is designed as a fast paced game where stopages are not needed / required.

    I honestly can’t see the game taking any longer with technology

  8. CG

    Fair point about the differences in the two games’ styles, however, technology would be likely to slow things down and depending on what it used for, referees could still arrive at the wrong decision. 

    Imagine this scenario: video technology is used during the game when a referee has missed a potential infringement. He looks again and decides the player should be sent packing. Doesn’t take too long, plus everyone is arguing/receiving treatment. The team that ‘wins’ the red card is happy, thinking justice is done. Meanwhile, the player dismissed and his coach remain adamant it should not have been a red card. Perhaps we could use technology to speed up the appeal process? Get that done and dusted during the game as well? Before you know it, people will be calling for video replays in order to determine the coin toss. This is just one of many areas where the introduction of technology would fail to improve the game. In my opinion. 

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