Friend and Taylor have boosted the unwanted need for video technology

The debate around video technology in football is one that will never be sorted, and one that will continue to split opinion. The introduction of goal-line technology in the Premier League is a welcomed improvement; the way the model works does not slow the game, and it provides a conclusive answer to whether the ball has crossed the line. It ticks the boxes, and the leagues across Europe should replicate the model from the Premier League – there needs to be a first for everything. 

Where UEFA and the European scene particularly fail is with the fourth official on the goal-line during Champions League and Europa League matches. The instalment is not a proven method to help the game; you only need to look as far as the recent missed penalty on Theo Walcott after a foul committed by Xabi Alonso, and then just a day later, Luis Suarez’s simulation turns the tie on its head between Barcelona and PSG.

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These are the bread and butter decisions in the box, which the fourth official should be taking command of. But they’re failing to, it needs to be stopped, and a new method trialled.

However, the immediate implementation of video technology has reason to not be brought in; it slows the game down, it makes the game too ‘perfect’, it takes away the debate, the controversy. Just look at rugby union, the constant referral to go upstairs kills games. It has become boring as stoppages are too often, fans too often pay money to see an official operating in an office. Never mind the momentum it kills for teams. Controversy, and that divide in football is what makes the sport; it’s what actually makes going down the local pub and speaking about errors an entertaining discussion.

Still, where there shouldn’t be a debate is around a referee carrying a hangover going into the Premier League. Of course, both Anthony Taylor and Kevin Friend had not just tipped up to officiate the matches at Old Trafford and the Liberty Stadium straight from Taylor’s celebrations, but they were too close to the game. Book the trip another time, book the time off; don’t participate in such an activity so close to a match as valuable as three Premier League points.

Image Source: Twitter

What would the media say had that been the players? The officials are the elites of their professions, like the players; they have to be razor sharp, the rationality behind their decision making can not be blurred. With such incidents, it only gives the video technology a stronger argument, which shouldn’t be necessary in our game.

With the referees often being scapegoats and at the front of controversy, going away on a stag do in Spain, and making a wrong call on the weekend will only put you in the firing line. It also raises the questions what do referees actually do when they’re not officiating? Sure, they will be reading appropriate rule books, and doing the odd game here and there, working on their fitness, but they must have a lot of time on their hands during the year. More appropriate times to celebrate your wedding, not close to a game where the fans pay thousands of pounds for the sport, and not for the officials to be star of the show.

Regardless of the referees shockers, what’s more criminal is the fact these chaps have hardly featured this season…