Why Video Reviews on Penalties Are a Great Idea

Ryan Bailey@ryanjaybaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06:  Ramires of Chelsea runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and FC Schalke 04 at Stamford Bridge on November 6, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

If there's one thing you can count on in football, it's that a controversial incident is never too far away. And in turn, the debate around introducing technology into the game constantly re-enters circulation.

Goal-line technology has been introduced to the Premier League with great success, but now a call has come for even more officiating quality assurance in the goal area: Video replays for penalties.

West Brom manager Steve Clarke was incensed last week when Chelsea were awarded a late penalty at Stamford Bridge, robbing the Baggies of a famous victory that would have ended Jose Mourinho's 65-match unbeaten home record with the Blues. 

The general consensus is that Ramires conned the referee by exaggerating the contact he received from Steven Reid. 

According to the BBC, West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace has written to the Premier League, requesting the use of video replays for penalties. He cites four occasions on which his side were unjustly treated in spot-kick decisions, arguing that Albion would be seven points better off if the correct calls were made. This would put them in fifth place, rather then 10th.

Peace is right to make this request, as video replays for penalties are a great idea.

You will need no reminding that football is big business. Millions are invested to drive teams toward success, and the repercussions of officiating errors have the potential to be financially devastating.

There is simply too much riding on top-flight results for human error to affect a team's fortunes.

Also, regular readers of my columns will know that one of my biggest bugbears in the modern game is diving. Just imagine how virtuous the game would be if serial simulators were no longer able to practise their devious techniques. 

It may make fans of association football recoil in horror, but the beautiful game could learn from the NFL, where instant replays have been used in some form since 1986. Teams are given three challenges per game, which are subsequently reviewed by officials in a pitch-side booth. 

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 03:  Referee Jerome Boger #23 looks into the replay booth on a challenge call in the first quarter in the game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants at FedExField on December 3, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Not only would challenges for penalty decisions add an extra layer of drama, but they would become part of the enjoyment. Fans of tennis who have seen plays challenged will know how riveting it can be when everyone turns to the big screens to see the findings of the Hawk-Eye system.

The suspense of waiting for a penalty adjudication could be just as entertaining, even if it is not replayed on the big screens.

Granted, this process may hold up play, but the average game of football already has a liberal smattering of breaks in play. And isn't it worth a brief pause to ensure that justice is done? Clubs who have suffered from bad refereeing would certainly think so.

Some also worry that video replays would take even more responsibility and respect away from the referee. On the contrary, it would empower the man in charge. There would no longer be any doubt about their decisions in the penalty area: They would become irrefutable figures of authority, with empirical data to back up their calls. 

Wouldn't all referees feel happier if they knew they would no longer be subject to a witch hunt after a poor decision?

Goal-line technology has been introduced to the Premier League with very little contention: Decisions are accurate and quick, and the viewer at home is treated to an incontrovertible replay of the action via a rather natty graphic. 

HULL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28:  Goal line technology is tested prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and West Ham United at KC Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Video replays for penalties are the next natural step in football's slow march out of the dark ages.

It's time for the game to catch up with other sports, which already benefit from replays. And to suggest that technological advancements haven't played a part in football for centuries would be naive: If this were the case, we would still be kicking around a neck-breaking lump of leather, or perhaps even a pig's bladder. 

Alternate views on this topic are certainly available. B/R's Karl Matchett makes the point that video replays are a step too far. But in my opinion, taking this step is the right thing to do. In time, hopefully I will be given the chance to be proven right. 


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