Monday, June 28, 2010

Bye - Bye Uruguay?

We've all see this image or some form of it by now in the refereeing world from the GER v. ENG match (report here). A relevant question may be, is this the end of the Uruguayan penta-refereeing team? (All 5 are from Uruguay) Will we see them again in this World Cup?

Similar to before, I'm not going to answer, nor am I going to go into (right now anyway) the howls for technology to become more a part of the modern game. I will also not go into depth of some of the absolute ludicrous commentary that is floating around. One piece of note is here. There were two quotes from this article that I found interesting.
Fact: Espinosa should have seen it. Practically everyone else did, without the need for video technology. It was visible with the naked eye. 
Okayee ... the juxtaposition of "Fact:" and "... should have seen it." are odd to me as clearly the JAR did not see that the ball crossed the line. I would be interested to know where the author was sitting for that one. Granted the ESPN coverage I was watching did clearly show it, but you had to be looking for it.
The non-goal was also edited out of a 2-minute highlight reel of the match on FIFA's website.
Ewwww ... I am with the author on that one, I don't like that at all. Yeah the refereeing team got it wrong, but hiding it does not help.

In the spirit of learning, what could we as referees change in this case?

When the ball was played the JAR was in the exact correct position, level with the second to last defender just about on the edge of the 18 yard box. The referee too seemed to be in a good position, with the play mostly penned in between he and his AR, trailing about 10 yards behind when the ball was struck.

It was at this point that LAMPARD struck the ball which rang off the crossbar, the ball deflected down, over the line, by about the diameter of a ball ... or about 9 inches, maybe a smudge more, but not much, then right out to the goal keeper.

Now the timing. The clock at the shot was at 37:43. This was when the JAR and referee were in the positions see above. By the time NEUER had the ball in his hands after bouncing out of the net, it was 37:45 as see below.

So, the JAR had to travel 18 yards in 2 seconds ... that is about 18.41 MPH or 29.63 KPH, faster than the fastest player on the ENG side, which happened to be LAMPARD at 29.41 KPH (report here). Keep in mind, this is from a dead stop as the JAR was in exactly the correct position at the taking of the shot. Is this even possible? Also, the time the ball was over the line was about half of that 2 seconds, really meaning we are talking about an AR moving 18 yards in a second, or at about 60 KPH to be in the perfect position. Now THAT is not possible. From the tape and the commentary the JAR was able to get about 10 yards from the goal line by the time the goalkeeper had the ball in his hands.

The referee was about 25ish yards back when the ball deflected down over the line and back out. He was also coming in straight on and had the worst possible angle.

So what do we do here?

Here is my prophetic answer ... I don't know.

This is tremendously unlucky for ENG and the refereeing team, and tremendously lucky for GER ... and honestly extraordinarily well played by NEUER to not let on at all what may, or may not have happened. I don't think that even he knew where the ball had been.

To me this is the ARs call all day as the referee has to trail the play here. If this was off a corner kick or other close set piece, my answer is very different, but quick counter attacking play moving forward like this, it is the ARs call.

This is, in my opinion, the single hardest and consequential out of bounds decision an AR has to make. Goal-line in/out is fairly routine albeit consequential, but ball struck on a rope 18 yards away, no defenders nearby and make that call in 2 seconds or less ... well that changes things. All the AR can do is run as fast as they can to the goal line while looking inside the field and see if you can catch a glimpse of the ball going over the line.

We know the AR can not give up his offside position. They have to follow the ball, so the JAR was where he was supposed to be. This leaves it to getting in the correct position just as quickly as possible and hope to get lucky. I'm sure the AR was trying to read the keeper to help determine if it was in or not ... and as stated above NEUER played it perfectly from that regard.

A guess then? No way. You have to be sure. Unlike the offside decision which I would opine has a preponderance standard (if there is doubt, let them go), a goal has a higher standard to bear and must be beyond reasonable doubt. Very plainly the JAR had doubt, so he had to not call it a goal.

Now a further note on mechanics for the referee. If a ball gets played deep as it had in this case, and the AR follows the ball, as they need to, it is imperative that the referee follow up and cover the offside, and remain there until the AR resumes their position. The team can not leave the offside position uncovered at any time in the match when the ball is in play. If the AR is otherwise engaged, the referee must cover.

So back to the match at hand. Was it a goal? Yes. Should the AR have seen it? Tough to say. One thing I know for sure, is that he is going to be thinking about it for a long, long time.

1 comment:

  1. This situation came up in MLS several years back, I believe about 6 give or take a year, and my recollection from the following pro clinic was that Tambo made the exact same arguments to the MLS coaches. They were calling for the AR's head and Paul laid out his arguments to them much as you have here. The AR was in exactly the position noted here and it's just too darn fast for the human body to keep up. Coaches tell the players that the ball travels faster than they do. The same applies to the officials - the ball travels faster than we can, especially when struck by the cream of the crop professionals. It's unfortunate, but this situation is always a possibility. Nicely done.