While opinion on the vuvuzelas certainly seems to be divided, everyone watching this World Cup seems to be united in their frustration at the referees and their calls. The end of what was a generally entertaining match between Brazil and Cote d’Ivoire was pretty much ruined by some bad decisions and some poor handling of the ‘scuffle’ involving Kaka. FIFA seem to be unwilling to admit that referees are human and can make mistakes. RTE are blue in the face trying to analyse the decisions of these men and more specifically their mistakes. As long as they lack the assistance of a fourth official who has the power to call goals or decide penalties etc they are left stranded. Extra officials can also be used for less divisive decisions. Graham Poll had his reputation ruined when he gave three yellow cards to one player in the last World Cup. While a mistake like this should not happen and is a major failing of any official, it could have very easily been avoided. A fourth official at the end of an earpiece could have alerted him to the fact in a matter of seconds.
So what is the argument against the appeal system? It will slow down the game and lead to too many stops and starts. As an avid viewer of tennis and rugby, the use of hawkeye and the television match official has not reduced the entertainment levels. The wait for a correct decision outweighs my desire to have a quicker match. I do not believe that football would be adversely affected if a referee could admit he needed a second opinion once or twice in a match. Even if players are allowed to make appeals during the match, as is the case in other sports, these can be limited to avoid too much disruption.
The lack of appeals after matches also seems absurd. Most sports, motor racing and gaelic games spring to mind, allow appeals. There is an acceptance that some decisions made by referees are incorrect and respect towards these officials seems to be maintained by allowing decisions to be debated.
I am fed up of undeserved yellow and red cards and unnoticed hand balls in this competition. The referee singlehandedly destroyed the Germany -Serbia match on Friday for example. Perhaps a fourth official isn’t the answer. Maybe referees need a monthly review? The referee who missed Henry’s handball is at this World Cup. How and why?
Maybe the referees are not the only ones we should blame. No player seems to have a problem diving, or indeed as is more common, over exaggerating an injury. The discipline of everyone leaves a lot of be deserved. One must imagine though that if the standard of refereeing were to be raised then the discipline of the players would move in that direction too.