The Aftermath: Gus Hiddink Calls for Video Replay

Patrick Johnston@PJSoccerJunkieCorrespondent IMay 17, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink during a training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg match against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on May 5 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

We all know the match. Chelsea abdicates the way to Rome and the Champions League Final to Barcelona on an injury time strike by Andres Iniesta that will live forever in the legends of Catalonian folklore. 

The “Pride of London” crashes out of the competition and immediately goes to work on the man they feel (know) is responsible for their demise. Michael Ballack, John Terry, and most shamefully of them all, Didier Drogba have a go at the Norwegian referee, Tom Henning Ovrebo before he can exit the pitch. 

Drogba immediately begins the disgraceful media assault on worldwide television as Ovrebo makes it to the tunnel.  Soon to follow in the aftermath are quotes from Jose Bosingwa calling the Norwegian a “thief” amongst other accusations by the Chelsea players (he was later to detract it). 

Of course, the press is lapping it up and regurgitating the venom every which way to be more appealing than the next journalist.

Soon there are “conspiracy theories” of UEFA’s (Platini’s)desires to do everything in its power to nullify an all Premiership Final for the second year running.  Ovrebo has death threats issued and has to change hotels for his own safety and soon leave England inconspicuously like a thief in the night.

So where does the madness end and what can be done to correct it?  Many answers to the query persist but let’s look at two that I find the most compelling. Drogba seems to think he can bully Ovrebo into changing the past. 

First of all, history can never be changed for those who have experienced the event.Have you ever seen a ref change the outcome of a game once it was concluded? And the tactics, please Mr. Drogba we have had enough “might makes right” to last all of our lifetimes.

Some suggestions for him that would have made this all unnecessary.  “Finish your chances,“ enough said.

And just for good measure, if he did not roll around the pitch every time someone breathed on him (imagined if he played Rugby!), then perhaps there would not have been four minutes of extra time to open the door for Iniesta’s heroics. Catalonia does thank you, however.

Let’s now take a more practical ponderance and consider the other option I found worthy of interest, Guus Hiddink has asked for video replay. He is quoted in the Sunday Times as requesting that technology come to the aid of the officials.

Hiddink knows it will not change the fact that he will see the final in a capacity other than coach, but he wants to make sure the injustices to all teams by woeful officiating are removed from the game. A noble gesture and one I wholeheartedly share.

But before we look forward and see the potential of what Hiddink is proposing, please indulge me and let’s revisit the past and review an item concerning the 2002 World Cup in Korea.

“Lucky Guus” is the manager of the Korean side that shocks the world and advances to the semi’s where they eventually capitulate to a German side led by Michael Ballack.  

A memory refresher, during this tournament there were large video screens at most of the stadia showing the matches as they were played.  The event was not even a week old and FIFA ordered the screens turned off. 

Officials were being tried and convicted on the spot as the big screens broadcasted the mistakes they were making within moments after the actual event occurred! 

And they were making more than their fair share of gaffes. So FIFA in its Draconian manner actually made the right choice, turn ‘em off!  What makes FIFA a dinosaur is that they have done nothing to correct the problem since.

Let’s get back to Guus. In both of Korea’s knock out games (round of 16, quarter finals) against Spain and Italy, the Koreans were beneficiaries of poor officiating that directly influenced (if not determined) the result. Hiddink knows what Pep Guardiola’s emotions were subsequent to the final whistle.

And now he has experienced both ends of the spectrum. They always say (they being the wizened veterans) that “you get some to go your way and sometimes you don’t. It all evens out if you stay around long enough.” Pep Guardiola better be looking over his shoulder.

So let’s talk about video replay.  I, for one, support it and have for a long time. The wrong call is never the right call and if there is a means to effectively correct it why shouldn’t we? The naysayers no longer doubt that the technology is available. They just are abject to change. 

It will ruin the “character” of the game and so on. Folks, the modern game is TOO FAST for the current enforcers. We all know change is inevitable and when it is for the sake of justice, it must be initiated.

Having already pointing out the irony of Hiddink’s appeal for fairness, I sincerely wonder how long it will be before Guardiola sings the same tune. Somehow, I am convinced it will not be after any controversial match that he ends up on the fortuitous side of.  

Will video replay become a part of the game? I boldly declare it is not a matter of if, but when. Be prepared in the very near future for video replay to exert its influence. Even the Draconian dinosaurs of FIFA will have to succumb to the perpetual evolution of sense and reason.


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