The Premier League has goal line technology, and that’s great. There aren’t questions about whether the ball crossed the line and should be a goal anymore. But that only helps with one of the questions heaped upon referees as they decide whether a goal has been fairly scored. For the rest, referees may need video replay … say for things like handballs?
We saw that on Saturday.
Most notably, Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal in front with a goal that very clearly should not have counted.
It’s tough to say that’s a deliberate handball, but by rule it doesn’t matter when the hand hits the ball into the goal. If he scores with his hand, it should be waved off regardless of whether it’s deliberate.
Mark Clattenburg missed this one and apparently admitted as much after halftime.
“Yeah, it was handball,” Hull’s Andy Robertson told Sky Sports after the match. “When we came out at halftime, the referee’s apologized to us and said there was handball so he’s obviously looked at it at half-time and seen he was in the wrong.”
Clattenburg probably would have preferred to have replay so he could get the call right instead of having to admit later that he got it wrong.
Robertson doesn’t really blame Clattenburg, though. He knows how tough making a call like that is, but it’s also game-changing.
“It happened so quick that it’s a tough one for the ref, you’ve got to kind of feel sorry for him and that,” said Robertson. “But at the end of the day those decisions don’t really go for you when you come to these big stadiums and that’s killed us at the end of the day because if we go in 0-0 at half-time I think we would have come away with some points.”
Would Hull have gotten a result had Clattenburg gotten the call right? That’s impossible to say. It does change the match and if the Tigers don’t have to chase the match in the second half, maybe they don’t concede a second. Or maybe they lose anyway. After all, Arsenal are the better team and at home, but that anyone has to wonder after a play where Alexis literally hit the ball in with his hand is unfortunate.
That wasn’t the only questionable goal of the day, though.
In Sunderland, Manolo Gabbiadini put Southampton in front with a deflection that looked to come off his arm. Now, Southampton went on to win 4-0 and completely thrash the Black Cats so it’s not quite as if that was a match-changer, but it was another play that the referee would have been hard-pressed to see and a bad goal counted.
Goal line technology is clearly not enough to get the calls right. People are putting the ball in with their hands and it’s counting. Like Robertson said, it’s tough for the referees to see it. Giving them help may not be the worst idea.
FIFA is already testing video replay. You may think that replay will benefit the game because the downsides outweigh what it brings, and that’s perfectly fair. But if you simply want to get the call right, video replay looks awfully good, especially after a day like Saturday.