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Old 21st November 2006, 10:39   #1
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Default Video to rescue for under-fire refs

Video to rescue for under-fire refs

Premier League to make January Fifa submission. Referees chief put in charge of draft proposal.

Stuart James
Tuesday November 21, 2006
The Guardian

The Premier League will move to bolster the position of its under-fire referees by submitting a paper to Fifa in January proposing the use of video technology. Keith Hackett, who as head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board is in charge of the country's top referees, has been charged with putting together the paper, which will support the use of television replays to aid referees on goalline incidents, and it also suggests that off-the-ball incidents and penalties should also be considered.

The move comes after a week in which referees have made the news for all the wrong reasons. Aidy Boothroyd, the Watford manager, criticised Chris Foy's per-formance at Fratton Park on Saturday and Blackburn's manager, Mark Hughes, and the Tottenham coach, Martin Jol, were angered by Phil Dowd's decision making at Ewood Park on Sunday.

Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's chief executive, has been a vocal advocate of new technology which the new document will outline. Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has opposed the introduction of television replays in the past but the Premier League, mindful that experiments inserting a chip inside the ball to rule on goalline decisions have proved unsuccessful, believe there is now a compelling case for video playbacks.

"Ultimately, it's a Fifa decision," said Dan Johnson, spokesman for the Premier League, "but what we are doing is putting together a paper which will go in front of the International Football Board [within Fifa] in January and that will be backing the use of video technology for goalline incidents. What we have said in addition to that is this leads to a debate where the game as a whole should consider where else it might be appropriate for video technology to be used."

Arsène Wenger yesterday joined Hughes in calling for video technology to aid referees. The Arsenal manager said the failure to embrace video technology was like "playing night games with torches". He pointed out that coaches can now view instant replays of incidents in the dug-outs and sees no reason why officials should not have access to the same technology.

"The media are so close to the bench now," said Wenger, "when the referee makes a decision, the bench checks the television - is the decision right or not? That has increased the frustration on the bench, because before you knew you could not have access to the television during the game and had to check it after the game. Every decision of the referee is on television and is analysed, but the only one in the whole game who has no access to the video and the right picture is the referee. What is even more surprising is that the referee does not want to use it."

Hughes, frustrated with Dowd's refusal to award Blackburn a penalty when Mido appeared to control the ball with his arm, had said television replays should be used "sooner rather than later" following the 1-1 draw at home to Spurs on Sunday.

Wenger has long campaigned for the use of video technology, having reacted with dismay when Thierry Henry's late goal was ruled out against CSKA Moscow last month. Television replays suggested the decision was incorrect. "It is a case I have defended for a long time - but some people refuse progress," said Wenger. "It is like saying you do not want to play with electricity, you want to stick to playing night games with torches."

The Blackburn defender Michael Gray echoed Wenger's sentiments. "It's about time we relied on the extra eye in the stand," he said. "Other sports like rugby and cricket have video refs - why not us? "The problem is that football is so fast these days that you can't always keep up with what's going on with just the naked eye. Every Premiership match is televised, so let's use the cameras to our advantage.",00.html
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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