Arsenal coach backs football replay

By Kevin Hilton
SVG Europe correspondent

The ‘video referee’ in football debate hits the headlines every so often and came back into the spotlight after Arsene Wenger, manager of leading English team Arsenal, called for the implementation of new technology following a disputed decision in a UEFA Champions League match.

Wenger’s comments came in the aftermath of Arsenal’s first leg group game against CSKA Moscow. Referee Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez, reacting to a signal from one of his assistants on the touchline, decided that the English team’s top striker, Thierry Henry, had handled the ball while making an attack on goal.

Arsenal lost that match in Moscow 1-0 and was held to a 0-0 draw for the return leg, held at its home ground in London. The result leaves Arsenal second in its group, behind CSKA and level on points with Portuguese side Porto.

Wenger feels there is “an urgent need” for the use of video technology in football, believing that it will preserve honesty and integrity in the game. The use of video technology to adjudicate on difficult decisions is now established in cricket. The “video umpire”, a third official who studies a replay, is often called into action during international matches and most involved in the game see the technology as making a positive contribution.

Football continues to resist calls for the use of video in making decisions, despite the number of television cameras used at matches. A spokesman for UEFA said that such decisions were “beyond the power” of the European Association.

The body that could decide to bring in the video referee is the International Football Association Board (IFAB), made up of four representatives from UEFA and one each from the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish football associations. The IFAB has reportedly concluded there is currently no need for video assistance.