Atkinson blunder clears cup final path for Chelsea – another argument for video technology?

Before I get started I would like to point out that I thought Chelsea’s victory yesterday was well deserved.  Their overall performance was worthy of an FA cup final place against Liverpool in 3 weeks time.

So it sickens me yet again that the big talking point that comes out of the game is to do with an almighty refereeing blunder.  Martin Atkinson, whose recent track record includes disallowing a perfectly good goal from QPR’s Clint Hill at Bolton and failing to send off Mario Balotelli at the Emirates last week made yet another huge error in judgement.

With the game at 1-0 to Chelsea just after half time, a controversial goal was given when Ledley King and Benoit Assou-Ekotto blocked Juan Mata’s shot in a chaotic goalmouth scramble.

The ball looked a long way from being over the line, which was then confirmed by television replays but somehow Martin Atkinson took it upon himself to award the goal, without even consulting his linesman.

This hugely angered the Spurs players and officials, but their protests were in vain as the referee stuck to his decision which made the score 2-0.

No one will ever know how the game might have turned out had the decision gone the other way, but you can’t deny the simple fact that this forced Tottenham’s hand.  They had to employ a more risky game plan, by pushing more men forward, chasing an immediate reply.  At 1-0 with still 40 odd minutes to play, it’s arguable that this wouldn’t have been the case.

I’ve highlighted the need for video technology on this site several times before and I don’t know how many more incidents we are going to allow to pass without common sense prevailing.

The law states that the referee has to be sure that the whole ball has crossed the line in order to give a goal.  How on earth was Martin Atkinson in a position to do that?  Why is he not able to utilise the technology that everyone watching at home has seen within 30 seconds?

It has to happen sooner or later, and not just for goal line incidents.  Diving, dangerous tackles, handball etc are all incidents which could benefit from the introduction of technology and make our game fairer.  If each team were allowed a maximum of 3 appeals per game, does anyone really think it would slow the game down any more than what we see already?  It’s not an uncommon site to see minutes lost after a big decision due to player protests etc.

Let’s get one thing straight though.  Video technology will not allow a referee to make a 100% conclusive decision.  Every incident will still be subjective and open to debate.  The decision will still fall to the referee to make, but if he is allowed to consult a replay then at least it will be an informed decision.

Then and only then, will incidents like yesterday’s be a thing of the past.