In Tuesday's game between England and Ukraine, we saw exhibit 'A' for the utilization of video replay technology in football.
With England leading a tight game 1-0, Ukrainian striker Marko Devic saw his deflected shot cleared from the goal line by England defender John Terry. The goal line official – standing just yards from the goal – made no motion to indicate that the ball had crossed the line, and play was allowed to continue.
Video replays soon revealed that the ball had clearly crossed the line.
I believe that video replay technology should be used in football, and here is how it should be done. If the referee is unsure whether or not the ball has crossed the goal line, he should be able to contact the fourth official via headset (which is a technology that is already in place) and ask him to review the goal on a video replay.
Play would be allowed to continue, until the fourth official could rule with confidence that the ball had or had not crossed the line.
The game does not need to be stopped for this to happen, as it takes less than 30 seconds to review a video replay. I know this is possible because in the TSN EURO 2012 studio, we did exactly that. This is what we saw:
The ball is clearly over the line, and the goal should have been allowed to stand.
Now the debate begins, because in the lead-up to the goal, Artem Milevskiy, the other Ukrainian striker, was offside just before he played the ball to Devic. Play should have been stopped for the offside, but neither the referee nor the referee's assistant spotted the infraction.
Critics argue that allowing video replay technology to come into the game will open up a Pandora's box, as coaches would want every decision in the lead up to a goal to be reviewed on video replay.
To combat this, here is what I would propose: Allow the use of video replays to determine whether or not the ball has crossed the line and a goal has been scored – and nothing more.
Video replays should not be used to determine if a player has been fouled in the build up to a goal, or if a player was/was not offside. That is the responsibility of the referee and his team of assistants, and should be left in their control.
Yes, it will result in fouls and offside decisions going the wrong way, but isn't that part of the beauty of football? We cannot – and should not – completely remove the human element from the game.
But we can – and should – use technology to help the officials determine the most important deciding factor in a game of football, whether or not a goal has been scored.