Could UEFA’s bold video refereeing strategy save tournament football?

Could UEFA’s bold video refereeing strategy save tournament football?

Could UEFA’s bold video refereeing strategy save tournament football?


By Michael Park, writing from Scotland

England fans will groan at this statement but Ukraine’s disallowed goal in the final Group D game has finally forced UEFA’s hand and pushed them toward introducing goal-line technology into the game. 

Michel Platini’s footballing boffins have been working tirelessly to find a way to introduce goal-line technology that does something other than setting off a massive buzzer that electrocutes the referee and forces him to blow for a goal. Many have suggested that the introduction of any kind of goal-line technology would ruin the flow of the game and they would much rather continue monopolising the time of officials who have much better things to do than stand behind the by-line staring at a post. Some have families. Some might just want to sit in a darkened room and cry.

Senior UEFA officials have been quoted in certain European newspapers speaking about a revolution in football that could see the spectacle return to every football match, starting with a pilot scheme in next season’s Europa League.

You’ll no doubt have experienced the ‘twitter storm’ already as supporters of the game’s traditional values vehemently shout down the proposal but for those of you who are unfamiliar, let’s run over the details.

Under UEFA’s new proposal, video replays would be used by the fourth official to determine the correct outcome of all goal-line and penalty decisions made during the game. These will be retrospectively added after the end of standard time. As with most things UEFA come up with; this will seem needlessly complex so let’s break it down further.

If a goal is not given during the course of the game and the fourth official using both video and rudimentary goal-line technology adjudge that the ball crossed the line or that there wasn’t a foul in the build up (should one have been given), the goal will be added to the score at half time and full time depending on when the incident took place. Are you following? I hope you are because it gets far more confusing.

If there is a penalty call during the game which the referee doesn’t give, it will be awarded to the team retrospectively after the end of the game. In the same way, a penalty is awarded during a match and the decision is found to be incorrect, a penalty will be awarded to the opposing team after 90 minutes are complete.

The groans of a generation follow Msr Platini wherever he may go and this latest suggestion that every football match may be followed by an arbitrary penalty shootout of sorts has led some to question the sanity of UEFA’s decision makers. 

However, I feel that I may be the only person willing to come out in support of UEFA on this issue. Think of the spectacle and think of the interest that would be generated in the last third of a game should these plans come into effect. As far as we understand (the outline has not been formally released to the public) there would be no way for the fans to know the final score before the end of the game.

While football is essentially a sport and the pursuit of sporting interest should be protected, I believe that there’s something to be said for this idea. UEFA have, contrary to many reports of some ‘twitter pundits’, intimated that the plan would only be used in tournament football such as the Europa League and European Championships and is not currently a proposal that they would consider for league games.

So why not? There are often complaints in major tournaments that there isn’t enough excitement and that teams sit back and defend too deeply once they’ve taken a small lead. With this system, you would have teams like Greece (sorry, Greece) worried that they might go 1-0 up, sit back until full time and then lose 3-1. I think that’s a fantastic idea.

What I’m trying to say is, why don’t we embrace UEFA’s ideas? They’re trying to innovate and create football for the 21st century. We are football fans in an age where players tussle and battle in the box at a corner but stay down under slight duress as though they’ve been the victims of an artillery bombardment. In allowing the use of video technology we would be allowing the innovation that the game so desperately needs.

The media may well decry the idea as hokum and new-age nonsense but with many believing that UEFA are ready to create penalty shootouts where there were none before and taking away the finality of the referee’s decision, let me be the first to tell you that you shouldn’t always believe everything that you read about football.

This was written by Michael Park. You can follow him on Twitter @GreatCollapso. Comments below please.