About two months ago, the Barclays Premier League was in its second game week of the 2015-2016 season. Liverpool was playing against Arsenal with high hopes after winning their first game of the season. Seven minutes into the game, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, a midfielder, was slotted a ball that he placed nicely into the back of the net. The sideline referee immediately flagged Ramsey offside, a call that voided the goal and gave possession to their opponents. After a closer look at the replay, Ramsey clearly is onside, but the only ones watching the replay were sportscasters and spectators, not the officials. The game later finished in a one-all tie. However, had the play been reviewed and the goal counted, the outcome of the game would have been a win for Arsenal. The call could have been corrected right there on the spot with the aid of instant replay.
Given circumstances like these in the Liverpool–Arsenal game, instant replay may seem like a wonderful idea at first. But when you look into the concept and use of instant replay in soccer, it is not so clearly the most positive option. Take the same example again of Ramsey’s disallowed goal in game week two. After a minute or two reviewing videos and pictures, I clearly saw that Ramsey was onside at the time the ball was played to him. But what if had not been so clear? What if the camera angle neither confirmed nor invalidated the call? If there had been an instant replay review, the officials might have changed the call and the goal would have been counted, but it is equally possible that a review would not have yielded any change to the call and may have even introduced another foul that was initially missed by the referee. So would the referee then be obligated to make that secondary call captured only in the instant replay? Without a clear camera angle the decision is left up to the official, so why even have instant replay in the first place?
This past week in the English Premier League, Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew was infuriated when starting striker Dwight Gayle received a soft yellow card which later became a red card. The Crystal Palace manager voiced his opposition to the calls leading to the red card, but he is not suggesting instant replay be added to the league. Pardew said he feels the refereeing is quite good, but it can be improved with better communication with managers. He also went on to suggest that referees need better training facilities, after game analysis, or even analysis from a manager’s point of view. From his point of view, emotions run too high during the game to consider changing calls, so communication within the following days is the key to improving the already high level of officiating. He does not consider instant replay as a plausible solution to poor calls made on the field.
Instant replay has found a home in sports like football, baseball, and tennis. It has been game-changing. With the introduction of instant replay, each of these sports has experienced a level of growth in the use and application of instant replay. It takes time and willingness from all sides to adapt to this advance in officiating. Is it time for soccer to add this element to their sport? That is the question.
Written by freshman Luke Isayiw as part of his Solutions Showcase Project.
Categories: Solutions Showcase