It's a cheats game at the moment

Last updated : 04 March 2010 By Gerard Bradley
Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher - robbed of a good goal
The authorities' answer to cheating players is to have yet another human being behind the goal line, as at Wembley on Sunday, who sees the action in real time. The television viewer sees in seconds an incident in slow motion and from several angles. Wrong decisions are costing clubs millions of pounds and in this modern age this is not acceptable.

On Saturday Wigan were robbed of points by a cheating Birmingham player who dived in the penalty area after he had lost control of the ball. I don't blame the referee but the cameras clearly showed the situation.

Burnley were robbed of a good goal from Fletcher (not for the first time this season) and then had a penalty given against them for another diver who was not touched. These decisions are likely to be crucial at the end of the season, as are the two non off-side decisions against Fulham recently. People will argue that these decisions even themselves out over the course of a season but why should they? Fans of all clubs are getting fed up with seeing that their team on Match of the Day or Sky were robbed by human error.

The answer is simple - the technology exists so why do we not use it, certainly at the highest levels of the game. I don't remember tennis umpires or rugby referees complaining when technology was used to aid their decisions - but I bet they complained when the technology showed them to be wrong. In the past, referees' decisions were accepted as final but now this is no longer the case and football is becoming a laughing stock as Rugby Union and Rugby League, Cricket and Tennis have shown the way in the professional game.

In these sports spectators don't mind the delay because the wait for the crucial decision seems to bring extra tension to the atmosphere. Of course, there are going to be some difficulties in introducing the new rules as Cricket has experienced with players and management seeking an advantage from the delays. However, it does not invalidate the argument that it is better to get a fair decision after a delay than a costly, wrong decision which changes matches and even seasons and can cost people their jobs and clubs millions of pounds.

Many of the problems have been recognised - the number of cameras available at grounds around the world may differ; it is still a human interpretation by the TV judge; the length of the delay; what aspects of the game should be reviewed and who has the right to appeal for a decision. But these are not insurmountable and overall the game must surely benefit rather than the cheats benefitting as at present.

I don't think referees have ever been held in such low esteem as at present and this attitude trickles down the levels even to school games. They cannot enjoy the fact that their every mistake is highlighted. With FIFA and UEFA burying their heads in the sand, maybe the initiative will have to come from the referees themselves asking for these aids in a modern extremely fast game where players and managers are taking unfair advantage. Over to you Mr. Hackett.