Rule changes, close matches, bribe allegations, and penalty controversaries: 
Football 2002 and World Cup 98 are components of  THE SHOT THAT PASSED RIGHT THROUGH THE NET
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Juventus - Inter controversary is just one example 
Should there be a video refereeing?

The Document first gives (1) an introduction, (2) asks are referees just bad?, shows that (3) the video refereeing question is not as simple as thought, and (4) discusses a few other approaches


 April 25th, Torino, Stadio delle Alpi. Inter's Ronaldo with the ball crushes against a defenders body in the penalty area. The referee waves on. What of most commentators is considered a clear penalty is denied by the referee. One minute later on the other side. Another unclear scene. The referee does not try to compensate by closing his eyes again but this time decides on penalty. The problem: both decisions were in favour of Juventus. Inter Milans players and officials go insane. The match ends 1:0 for Juventus (what was already the standing at this point, Del Pierro's penalty was saved by Peruzzi). 

During the following days the scene is discussed not only in media but even in politics. Refereeing has become a crucial problem of modern football. It is not only clubs interests. It is the interests of owners, of share-holders, of million seeking players agents and so on, and so on. 
The World Cup is luring and we are remembering the Euro 96, when Bulgaria was denied a clear goal, when controversial offside refereeing might have also prevented the Netherlands from advancing. We remember 1966, when a situation decided on the World Championchip, that 30 years later is still not doubtfree analysed.

Are referees just bad?



 Are referees just bad? 
No. If referees were bad in general, at least one in the world might have come up in all the time who obviously is better than the others, who sees everything right, who makes no mistakes. But this is not the case. You find even the best and most accepted referees make totally wrong decisions, even have a complete horrible match from time to time. So the first conclusion has to be: the refereeing system produces a certain percentage of wrong decisions automatically. Do you want to change this percentage? You have to change (or optimise) the system. 
But what is a wrong decision? Some cases are clear. But most cases can be discussed. A goal keeper going for the ball and does not get it. The attacker, maybe not finally trying to jump over him, takes the foul and gets the penalty. Could he have avoided contact? 
Did the defender play the ball with the help of a foul or did both have the hands on each others shirts? Many of the controversial situations are in a grey area that has to be interpreted and can be either interpretated this or that way. This is a property of the game.  

 And also there are consequences for years of not whistling unambigously according to the rules. All the holdings, the hands on the dresses at corners: They are 'common play'. According to the rules they are a foul. But when the referee whistles penalty it is almost like he has tempted the defender into a trap. Practically he has the free choice: penalty ('it was a clear foul') or not ('then I could give 20 penalties each match').
Some things a referee just cannot see right. He cannot watch the same scene from two angles. He has to rely on his experience, and this might help him a lot, but also deceive him in a rare particular situation. He can hardly oversee two spots on the field at the same time. 
In American Football it is easier. You have a huge team of referees. Each has a particular job and such you often find right decisions, when after studying a number of instant replays you ask yourself: How the hell did he see this without a slowmotion? Unfortunately this system cannot be transferred to soccer so easily.

What are the differences between American Football and soccer refereeing?



 American football has a basicly rhythmic discourse, soccer a dynamic. In American Football a 'down', a play, is played for some seconds until the game stops again, if a referee sees a foul he throws a yellow flag. After the play has stopped the referees come together and the referee who threw the flag reports to the first referee (the others may comment, if they saw the scene) who then decides. This cannot be made in soccer. The game lives from its fluent course with dynamic outbursts that can last for minutes. If you stop after each situation for a conference, you will kill the game. In American Football those breaks are natuarally in the game.
 So the first problem point for a bigger referee team is the communication and decision finding problem. The second is the space on the field. In American Football it is easier to place referees in such a way that they do not affect the game.    

 In soccer, especially in modern soccer, those referees would be in the way all the time. So additional referees have to be completely outside the field or at least their working area had to be devided, for example one referee in each half. This first of all makes it more difficult for them to see better and takes back to the crucial point of communication and decision finding: In the actual way of refereeing you have the help of one assistant in each half. But he is used very limited. 
 His job is difficult enough solely considering the offside problem, where he has to decide while watching to spots on the field at the same time, the offside line and the spot where the ball is. 
Only this offside problem makes clear it is almost impossible to decide always right. Obviously it is more easy to have a replay on offside situations and decide then. Offside situations do not have to be interpreted like foul situations. Most offside situations are like the questions: Did the ball cross the line, has it been a goal. Those situations seem to be made to produce the resulting question: 

Too often the wrong decision paradigm is applied on refereeing...



  Had it been the weather. Had it been a hole in the ground that caused the ball to change direction and miss the goal. There had been some lamenting but not as much complaints as when the metapher of a human being deciding delivers a placeholder to blame for luck being against you. Suddenly it has not been fate, it has been a particular person who conducted your destiny. Unless there is a machine decision, that might be accepted more composed, refereeing will be examined closely as almost nothing else in a match although it is not the original subject of the game. 
 Usually one finds a wrong paradigm of decision making in the discussion: let us consider the question: has the ball crossed the line or not, has it been a goal or not? 
But this question is put wrong! This is not what the referee has to decide. What he has to decide, is: has the ball crossed the line, has it been a goal? Can he answer this question with yes, he has to blow the whistle, if not, the match will continue. 

The difference? He does not have to tell whether the ball crossed the line or not, he only needs to interrupt the match, if the ball doubtfree crossed the line. In doubt, the match continues. This may please him here, where he can can decide carefully, but it is the other way round in an offside situation: In doubt the match has to continue. But many referees still seem to fear more a wrong goal than a wrong decesion preventing a goal. Imagine a golden goal situation at the next World Cup... 
In modern football matches have become so close that referee decisions have become more and more crucial to the match. Also the game has become faster so that you have a higher number of controversial situations. The only answer has been more referee fitness, a better education, and some minor adjustments of the assistants part. Can a video referee help here? 

Should there be a video refereeing?



 The aspects are more complicated than you might think in the first moment. First of all: You do not know before. Imagine, you have a controversial situation. Now you want to ask the video referee. But you do not know before whether he can deliver the answer. 
The pictures on the TV seem quite clear. But the truth is: you only see what you guess you see. The picture on the TV is two-dimensional. This means your fantasy makes this a three-dimensional picture. So for all controversial foul scenes you need at least two angles which simultaneously prove the same. Almost each week you find on German TV commentators 'proving' exactly the opposite for the same scene sometimes with tape sequences from different perspectives, sometimes even with the same. Already in the seventies the famous German TV commentator Rudi Michel proved the deceiving nature of video by a film.  

 Sometimes you focus on the foot when there is contact at the hips, sometimes the slowmotion movement is deceiving, yet there is a lot of interpretation in the results. Also it does not take away that a lot of situations are not clear anyway, have to be interpreted and quickly ruled. But if you want to use video to decide seriously or even to overrule the decision the referee already took, the approach has to be more serious. The proof has to be doubtfree and not just likely. And it has to satisfy the same decision paradigm: It cannot be decided whether yes or not, it only has to be decided whether yes. And this triggers the following problem: The match always has to be interrupted for some time until enough sequences are reviewed. And in most cases you cannot reach this 'doubtfree' conclusion. This kills the match, as stated before: Soccer lives by its fluent course and its dynamic outbursts. It might even become a tool to complain and to ask for a video refereeing to calm down, to interrupt a match that is running well for the others side. 

Is this just imagination or has there been a real example of experience with video refereeing?



 That this evaluation is not just fantasies shows the history of instant replay refereeing in American Football: It was introduced 1986 and taken away again 1992 from the game. Although several modifications had been made: it made the game redicolous. It started with controversial decisions, it interrupted the game (although American Football was used to interruptions those interruptions were terrible) and after a real sense had developed for that a decision has to be a 100% proof and not just an (3-dim) interpretation (of an 2-dim picture), there were only few decisions that could have been made at all to overrule the referee. Anyway a limited return is discussed each year, for another season it did not receive enough team owners votes in March 98.   

 So, if at all, video can only be used very limited. For example goal and offside situations. But how? Imagine offside situations: All or most offside situations would have to be played on until the next break in the match and then ruled. A ridiculous idea but it helps nothing if a referee says offside, whistles off and then gets told by the video referee, his decision was wrong. Another possibility: the offside video ref rules while the match runs on. So the offside whistle came alway with a 15 seconds delay at least (you have to be sure, otherwise it was no improvement). This would mean, all offside refereeing has to be taken to the booth. 
As you see, video refereeing would cause a lot of problems, that were not thought of yet. 

Isn't it possible to reduce the impact of referee decisions on the result by adjusting rules?...



 It seems easier to improve refereeing by adding referees with particular tasks and by modifying the rules, make them more precise, more distinctive and less injust. In a 1-0 match, a penalty means more than in a 5-4 match. Do you have to have a penalty for each foul in the box? Do you have to get goal-keepers punished terribly, maybe losing their place in the goal, when they arrive to late and hit an attacking running into direction of the goal, who of couse does not too much to avoid contact. he receives the red card, gets banned for matches. But the attacking team does not get its advantage. Here a penalty was logical. Changing the rule a bit, that more goals can be scored early without the help of mistakes or penalties might help as well. All those ideas have to be discussed. 
Anyway, to FIFA, video refereeing as well as more referees bare another problem:    

 FIFA and most associations want to keep the football as one thing, with the same rules for everybody. On the other side, especially in Europe, a part of this football world has become huge commercial enterprises with shareholders and financial interests. If you want to keep this world inside of football, you will have to recognise that those powers do not want the huge influence of refereeing. Still you cannot go to a normal court after a match. Belonging to FIFA means, you have to appeal to an associations court otherwise you are kicked out of FIFA. But Nottinghams attempt to sue Anderlecht for Millions because Anderlecht had bribed the referee in a European Cup match is only a sign. Shareholders, owners could sue referees years later for making crucial mistakes and referees could become exposed like surgeons. FIFA could try to stop them, but it was another danger of powers developing that want to break away from the Association football system and found a commercial enterprise league. Anyway it is totaly unsatisfactory that so much of a match decision lies in the hands of a person who is the best when he is not noticed at all.

By the way: the referee job is one of the tougher ones from psychololigal and physical point of view. Is there a drug test for referees? 

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