Crouch, touch, pause, engage…

The ongoing rugby world cup in New Zealand attracted my interest especially in terms of culture, refereeing and use of technology. One recent letter in NST wrote that FIFA should take a leaf from the Rugby World cup. It is very heartening to see burly and fiercely looking hunks stood obediently in front of the umpire listening to his lecture. I often hear the referee says something like ” I am not talking to you any more, I have said enough, I’ll take action after this”. The 150kg plus man just obediently nodded and ran off to continue playing. You never see the players talking back, arguing, harassing or manhandling the umpire. If the umpire foresee a possible tension brewing between the opposite teams, he would call the two team captains and told them to rein their players or face the consequences having players being sin-binned.


The umpire also take pains to explain the offences and give some sort of running commentaries on the offences as it happens throughout the game. With technology, us viewers can also hear his explanation. The umpire also had the right to ask for a TMO to assist his decision-making especially in deciding whether a try should be given or not. A video replay from various angles would be provided to TMO team and their decision would be conveyed to the umpire via his headphone. This independent off field decision aiding  mechanism  took away all the controversies in awarding tries from the umpires.

FIFA should take leaf from the RWC and improve the decision making mechanism. Many games have been lost or won due to bad decision-making by the referee. The referee had to make split second decision based on his observations and observations of his line judges. There is no video evidence to decide on contestable goals. Players incessantly argue with umpires. Even the coaches also harried and harassed umpires. Some players feigned injuries to get opposite players sent – off. It is high time FIFA adopted goal line video evidence to determine goals and introduce sin-bin to calm highly strung players.

If highly physical and fast moving rugby match can be tightly controlled with proper attitude of players and technology aiding the umpires, I do not see why football cannot adopt the same.

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