We all know video replays have been a highly contentious issue in football, with many conservative minded stakeholders attacking such suggestions, claiming that football should be kept 'pure' and 'unchanged', and that it would 'ruin the game'.
I disagree that we should sit back and do nothing about poor footballing decisions; a lot of money, hard work and deserved achievements depend on the decisions of footballs referee far too heavily. We see today the benefits of Chelsea's Champions League win, but what if all those times we had it unfairly taken from us, we had instead been able to challenge these decisions and perhaps win? What if this was not our first, but maybe our second or third Champions League title? This is fairly presumptuous, given that poor decisions led to our not making the 04/05 and 08/09 Champions League finals, but it would have been far more possible with two more chances out of four as opposed to one win out of two. We all know how unpredictable such games can be, so who says we couldn't have had another?
There's no doubt that it would change the game, that much is certain, but video replay technology could definitely change modern football for the better. We shouldn't be afraid of change; changes happen in football all the time. I guess the more specific fears of these 'purists' are twofold; that players challenging decisions would make games last longer as a result of constant interruption for these video replays, as well as the possible negative impact of taking a referee's power away from the game, giving referees authority on the pitch.
Firstly, the system used in my own sport has seen great success. I fight in pretty big Taekwondo competitions around the world, the Belgian Open and the US Open being two examples, and the success we've seen with such technology has been game changing. In Taekwondo, there is a system by which the coach has a card which they can use to challenge a decision in the fight. If successful, the decision is changed to the correct one, and the card is returned to the coach. However, if unsuccessful, and the challenge proves to be an erroneous one, then the referee keeps the card and the coach may make no more challenges during that fight.
A similar system implemented in football, in my opinion, would be a successful one. The team's captain could be the one player who could challenge a decision, often likely on the advice of his teammates, and can request the video replay. After one unfounded or inaccurate challenge, the captain loses his right to make another challenge that match. This would motivate captains to only make the challenge when they feel it is appropriate, and being the face of the team would add further pressure for them to use the challenge(s) responsibly. This replay should be allowed for possible penalties, free kicks, simulation, yellow and red cards, and offside goals, as all of these decisions have the power to alter the result of a game unfairly.
Secondly, with response to the second primary concern, I play a sport that has accepted video replays wholeheartedly, and can tell you with an absolute certainty that as an athlete, it in no way makes me respect the referees less.
My sport used to have referees judging where you scored, pressing a button if and when they think you did. Human error played a huge part in the sport, and as a result it was often a very subjective sport. I always respected the officials externally bowing and apologising when warned or punished with point deductions, but I actually have very little respect for them as a whole.
When you're an athlete dealing with the outrage of a decision which costs you a fight, game or a match, where you know what happened and see the official or referee acting completely obliviously to it, you don't respect their decisions, so you find it very difficult to respect them. I would think that most football players have dealt with such refereeing, and have been outraged on a pretty regular basis over some of the decisions made, and find it similarly difficult to respect referees; the rule against dissent, along with their wages and respect for their team probably all that keeps them from yelling at the referee or straight out abusing them at times. So no, I don't think that it would make players respect the referees less; it would actually pacify the players somewhat in that they know that justice is possible even if the referee misses what actually happened.
Okay, you got me, this is all just conjecture. We don't actually know how such a rule change would affect the game as a whole, but we have to deal with risk when trying to improve the game. Remember the golden-goal? We can always repeal and change rules if we think they're wrong, unfair, or just don't fit the game, so why not at least give video-replays a try? I know that it would be a very expensive process which would take time to implement, but the potential benefit, in my eyes at least, seems far greater than the cost that these poor decisions are having on our game. I, for one, am sure that it would only change football for the better.
Feel free to answer the poll, discuss the matter and share your opinion in the comments below!
Also, I have provided a link to an article regarding the impact of the introduction of video-replays on Taekwondo for your edification*.
*Pretty sure I got this word from Graham, but it might have been Stephen; regardless, thank you to whoever improved my english by putting it into an article!