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A week of controversy points to the direction of technology

The quality of officiating has never failed to emerge as a heated topic. The Linesman has not been once highlighted the fact that officials have let the football fans down. Sometimes it could even cost a manager’s job. Mark Hughes would be the first to protest. Mbia’s temperament left QPR a very deep hole to dig out of, but it was Mikel Arteta’s offside goal which ruined Julio Cesar’s brilliant day and robbed QPR a hard-fought point.

Referees are human beings and they make mistakes. With only a split second in the modern games to make important decisions, it would be harsh to amplify and blame every single mistakes they have committed. Nevertheless, Liverpool had a case to make when Everton’s equaliser originated from a throw-in which was never the Toffee’s. Credits were dedicated to Mirallas, who cleverly resumed the play well before the referee had a chance to think. Nevertheless, Suarez’s disallowed goal left the linesman in an embarrassing position. To admit that he “thought there was offside” would only trigger the anger of the kop. Sadly, no people mentioned the unfair header battle between Coates and Jagielka.

All three of the controversial matches last weekend were decided by merely a single goal margin, but at last it was Mark Clattenburg who stole the show. Though it is still early in the season, neither Chelsea nor Manchester United undermined the importance of the clash. For two-third of the game, it was exciting, magnificent with exchange of world-class calibre attack, until officials took over the control of the match.

He did not think twice before sending Torres off

Neglecting the racism claim by Chelsea over Mark Clattenburg, which we are not in a position to comment, did Mr Clattenburg have a poor game indeed? It was pretty poor for the standard of an Olympics Final referee, but there are several points worth clarifying. First of all, Hernandez’s winner was wrongly allowed, but it was hardly Clattenburg’s fault. There was no way for the main official to determine whether there was an offside in that situation.

While Ivanovic’s sent off was a no-brainer, it was Fernando Torres’ dismissal that stirred the discontent of the Blues. Johnny Evan’s reaction had told the story, but Mark Clattenburg strongly disagreed. Fernando Torres did have the license to fall to ground, though his initial thought of professionalism had indeed made his fall slightly awkward and theatrical.

Torres may have to blame Suarez and Bale who have made diving the news headlines. Whether Mark Clattenburg was attempting to “kick diving out of football” remains an unknown, but his determination to alter the momentum of the match was questionable. The quality of the game was damaged when Di Matteo was forced to withdraw his talented attackers.

Roberto Di Matteo claimed that every decisions had gone his opponents’ way. It is quite a strong claim that Di Matteo might want to reconsider. Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney could have been booked, while the latter should have been sent off following Torres. However, could Torres already been given a red for his first half injury time challenge on Tom Cleverley? While Clattenburg did not fancy the idea of a red card before half time, Mikel should have received another marching order with the second booking following his body check on Valencia late in the game. Instead, Clattenburg judged it as Valencia’s dive. It may mean little if it was 9 vs 11 or 8 vs 11 at that moment, but to have four players suspended to travel to Swansea would be far from ideal for Chelsea.

It is understandable that the losing side would try to make the most out of the decisions against them, but the ultimate interest is in finding the solution. All of the incidents point to technology, not only goal line technology, but replay review. A similar system to tennis — granting teams limited chances to challenge the referees’ decisions — could have eliminated lots of unnecessary arguments. There are worries that the authority of officials, as well as the rhythm of the game, might be harmed, but whether it is tennis, American Football, or basketball, it  has already proved that as long as the motivation is right, there must be a way to work around it.

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