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World Cup: Fixing the refs

In a column after the first game by each team I claimed the ref’s were doing alright. They hadn’t missed many calls, which in soccer is a win. Well we’ve had two more weeks of games since then and boy have things changed. The refereeing has become atrocious. There are always problems with the refs at the World Cup. It’s almost expected. I’m sick of it. There needs to be some changes. Luckily I’m here to help out FIFA and give them the five things they need to do to fix their problems.

Put a second referee on the field

Soccer plays on the largest field in major sports yet they only have one referee on the field. (Cricket fields are huge but no one cares about cricket. At least that is what I get told when I try to talk about it.) They have two guys on the sidelines that try to help, but I bet it is hard to see what is happening 80 yards away. The field is 120 yards long and 100 yards wide. A hockey rink is 200 FEET long and 80 FEET wide and they have two refs and two linesmen. Not to mention two goal judges and a “fifth” referee who helps with video replay. You need to have a second ref on the field to help see fouls, flops, deflections, and just overall run of play.

The addition of a second ref would really help control the game. You could have a head ref who controls the clock like they do now but the second ref has the same authority for giving fouls, cards and determining who has possession of ball out of bounds. I’ve always been keen to the idea that four eyes are better than two. (This is why I make sure my editors make sure I kind of make sense.)

Add two more linesmen

Right now you have one guy on each half on one sideline. This means one guy on each half to call offside, out of bounds and help with foul calls. It also limits the eyes on the goal line. If you add a linesman to each half one linesman can be designated to run and watch the goal line when a shot is taken. So we don’t have the issue we saw in the England/Germany. Again, I fall to the side of two sets of eyes are better than one. I don’t see how this could be bad.

Install video replay on goals

Soccer is the only major sport that doesn’t instill video replay on scoring plays. This seems ridiculous. You would never think there is a sports league out there less progressive than Major League Baseball. But FIFA has done that. They could have fixed the England goal that was disallowed in 30 seconds with replay.

The big thing is that the refs were in the right position with the play. They were watching offside and the center ref was around the ball. And it was still messed up. It was a huge goal, or non-goal in this case. It would have changed the outlook of the game. Now Germany might have still won the game, but at least there wouldn’t have been any “what could have been” talk going on. The technology is there and has been there for years. Instill it.

More cards for flopping or exaggerating

I know a lot of the casual soccer fans hate all the flopping and rolling around on the ground on plays were someone doesn’t get hit that hard or at all. I can speak for most diehard soccer fans when I say we hate it too. It is annoying. It slows down the game. The issue is that refs can card for flopping, and sometimes they do. They just don’t do it enough. It is hard to card someone for exaggerating if they actually are fouled, but I don’t see why you couldn’t do it after the play.

I also think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to retroactively card for flopping. If a player flops and there is no call and the video replay judge sees a replay and it is determined to be a flop at the next stoppage card the guy. If you see cards going out for flopping on a consistent occasions you will see less and less of it.

If FIFA wants to be big in America they have to limit the flopping. You can never get rid of it. It will be there, but if it is limited it will surely help.

Talk to the media

This might be the most ridiculous notion FIFA has installed. How do you have no accountability for the referees doing their job? Anybody who has a high profile job and screws up at it has to answer to the media. How is this any different for soccer refs? As with the US a game against Slovenia, sometimes we just want to know why. The fans, the media, the team didn’t even get to know why the foul was called or on who. Doesn’t that question deserve to be answered?

FIFA has said that they will look at video replay again. Whether this is to appease the public or they are actually looking into doing this is yet to be seen. It would be a step in the right direction. If they decide they actually want to get the majority of the calls right, then maybe we’ll actually see a lot of changes. But you won’t find me holding my breath for it.

Please send any comments or questions to gheinrich@ktar.com.
Listen to Kyndra de St. Aubin and myself talk about the USA’s disappointing loss to Ghana by