Friday, 20 November 2009

Football decisions

BBC Sport - Football - Roy Keane has no sympathy for Republic of Ireland exit - I'm with Roy Keane on this one. The rules state that the referee's decision (not matter how bad) is final. This has always struck me as being completely at odds with football players' (at all levels) attitudes towards referees: they shove the ref, swear at him, shout at him. This is such a stark contrast to rugby, where, at all levels, the ref is rarely given abuse, and when he is the player is dealt with harshly: at least moving the penalty 10 yards forward, and at worst an early bath.

Video refereeing would never really work in football: there would potentially be too many stoppages, or the griping would switch from 'whether it was a foul' to 'whether the ref should have used the video ref'. In rugby it works because the ref only really uses it for try scoring, which can be a messy affair (bodies piling over, or a touchline tackle). In football, the goal is usually much more clear cut: ball over line and in net.

Maybe the solution is multiple referees, like American football. Or maybe simply more powers to the linesmen to advise on referee decisions. Or maybe just more powers to the ref to impose player discipline and command respect. Adversarial team sports are not democracies (unlike boxing, diving or gymnastics), with good reason: fundamentally it's about subjective judgement and timely decision-making.
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