Top brass must change minds - SAF

20 November 2009 11:43
As the Republic of Ireland continue to seethe over their World Cup dream being wrecked by Thierry Henry's blatant handball at the Stade de France on Wednesday, a series of leading figures have called for match officials to be given more assistance in getting the big decisions right.

Ferguson has suffered himself recently, with Didier Drogba hauling Wes Brown down at Chelsea a fortnight ago as John Terry flicked in the only goal.

The Manchester United manager admits this week's incident is more serious given it marked the end of Ireland's chances of reaching next summer's finals in South Africa.

Yet he realises such arguments will continue until there is an attitude shift among the men who run the sport.

"It will never be solved unless the people who run the game change their minds," said Ferguson.

"It is not a matter of going round every player and coach in the world and asking their opinion because you would probably get the same one.

"We all think, as I do myself, that technology can play a part. It can help referees.

"But the stance is that they prefer human decision making. Until that changes, there is nothing you can do about it."

Whilst most of the debate emerging out of the Paris row has centred around Henry, and whether he should instantly have admitted an infringement, as a coach himself, Ferguson's initial reaction was one of sympathy for Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who almost masterminded one of the greatest nights in his adopted country's history.

"My thoughts were for Trapattoni," said Ferguson.

"He has prepared a team magnificently. It was a fantastic performance by them. He could not have asked for better.

"Then it was taken away from him.

"It happens. It has denied a couple of our players (John O'Shea and Darron Gibson) that great experience of playing in a World Cup finals. You can't get a better experience than that.

"But two weeks ago, Didier Drogba pulled down Wes Brown. There is not the same hullabaloo, which is quite right because this was a major incident.

"Ireland can't recover. But does the other incident cost Manchester United the league? It could very well. That is how important decision making can be."

The debate about video technology has always been about the amount of time it would take for decisions to be made and the effect it would have on the normal flow of a game.

Even in sports that have successfully embraced the concept - both codes of rugby and cricket - there is a time issue, although that can also heighten spectator excitement during the wait for a key decision to be made.

"Look at American football and the time they take with debatable decisions," said Ferguson.

"It might take three or four minutes, which allows the coach to talk to his players.

"I realise the fans are used to spending all day at the ground.

"The argument here is that football is a winter game and it would take too long for the referee to go across to a monitor.

"But sometimes a goalkeeper takes a minute to take a goal kick. The amount of (actual playing) time in a game of football is normally 65 minutes.

"It would only take a minute or so for the referee to walk across to a monitor - and he can be assisted by his assistants."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger agrees with Ferguson and believes it is wrong for football referees to go unsupported in clear-cut decisions such as Henry's handball.

"Football accepts that a billion people see it, one guy doesn't see it and it is the one who prevails. It cannot work," he told ArsenalTV.

"We cannot accept that an obvious decision is wrong because we do not want to give ourselves all the needed help we can have in the modern game.

"Being at the game, I saw the referee giving a goal knowing that something was wrong and that is really sad.

"He didn't see it, I can understand, the linesman didn't see it, but they couldn't get any help.

"In the end, he gave a goal, already knowing that it wasn't a goal. We cannot accept that in our sport and you have to do something about it."

Wenger believes there were clear indications - namely the reaction of the players - that Swedish referee Martin Hansson had made the wrong decision.

"For two reasons; first of all Henry didn't celebrate at the start, that gives an indication to the referee, but spontaneously 11 Irish players came to see the referee," added Wenger.

"That doesn't happen if it's not something obvious. You have two, three or four but not 11 and that convinced him to go and see the linesman as well and say 'Listen, I didn't see what happened, can you help me?'

"The linesman as well didn't see it, then what could help him is somebody outside, the fourth official."

Wenger is an advocate for video technology, so long as the referee remains in charge.

"In my opinion the referee should keep control of the game, but when he wants help he has that resource available," he said.

"We cannot sort out all the cases but we have to sort out as many cases as we can."

Frenchman Wenger was dissatisfied with the way his compatriots reached next summer's World Cup finals.

"For the sense of justice it is quite embarrassing to see," he said. "I think even France is embarrassed.

"We didn't play well at all and we won the game and won the qualification with a goal that was not a goal."

Source: Team_Talk