Friday, 2 November 2007

Rugby is a game for hooligans… Retort 2

… and should be used as a tool to combat gang culture.

It seems we agree on all the original suggestions, and that essentially the citing commission is the only one that could be effectively transferred to football. I’m not sure I completely agree with your idea of the referee reviewing incidents during half time, but how about the following combination of the two ideas: referee the whole game as it happens using television. Keep the on-pitch officials, obviously, but have a second referee watching the game on TV and in continuous communication with the other officials.

This idea may be a little controversial. I’m sure the “purists” wouldn’t like it, but the technology it requires is no more than what is already being used, and just about every top level match is televised anyway. It may have the same disadvantages of the video referee, in that it might not be absolutely conclusive 100% of the time, but the referee always having a close-up view would drastically reduce the amount of wrong decisions made, which is surely what we all want. Anyone who says that mistakes add to the drama and excitement is just wrong.

Now for your suggestions:

1. Blood Substitute and Treatment
Treating injured players on the pitch is a very good idea. At the moment, an advantage can be gained by feigning injury as either play will be stopped or the opposition will be pressurised into kicking the ball out of play, causing them to lose momentum and allowing your team to reorganise. This way, if a foul was not given then there would be no point staying on the ground. On the other hand, I am not so keen on blood substitutions. Imagine the controversy if a player came on, scored, then left the pitch. I know this is the same as in rugby, but it doesn’t seem to be as big a deal in rugby. Maybe this is because a blood injury is far more common in rugby, and because it is harder for a single player to make such a significant difference. Whatever it is, I don’t agree with this being introduced to football.

2. Line-outs (Throw-ins)
Yes. This is very, very annoying. The throw-in should be taken from where the ball goes out of play. Of course it is in the nature of players to try to gain as much advantage as possible, even an honest soul like myself does it, and they cannot be blamed if the officials do not enforce the law. The idea of the linesman (sorry, referee’s assistant) standing to mark the point from which the throw is to be taken (obviously without impeding the thrower) could cut this out. We must consider the possible knock-on effects, as in the current system – for reasons which I have never fully understood – each assistant is responsible for one half of the pitch, presumably to look for offside players if the play changes ends quickly. Surely they could just swap ends. Or, we could even use four linesmen, which would make it easier to spot incidents of any sort. Maybe that would be excessive, especially if we’re going to referee the game by television as well.

3. Referee
I cannot agree with the captain being the only player who is allowed to speak with the referee. In my experience (shinty), the worst referees are those who will not talk to you, not explain their decisions, and give you a bollocking if you ask them to do so. Of course, I agree that shouting and bawling at the ref is unacceptable, and players who do so should be booked immediately. If the players can’t learn to converse properly with the referee then they can get sent off and it will be their own fault. This is already in the rules, but is not always completely enforced. If a zero-tolerance approach is taken and, crucially, common sense applied then the problem should be controllable. Talking only to the captain does work well in rugby, but perhaps this is due to the phase-based nature of the game, meaning that most of the players are in roughly the same area of the pitch. With football, the players can be at opposite ends at any time. What if a striker wants to ask the referee something in the opponent’s penalty box and his team’s captain is the goalkeeper?

So I say yes to on-pitch treatment and sorting out throw-ins, but no to blood subs and communication between referees and players only through the captains. If you think I’m wrong then shout at me. Also say what you think of the TV referee for all the time.