There is a general lack of understanding of what the additional assistant referees, the officials who stand to the side of the goal in European games, actually do. They have a limited number of signals that they can give, and everything has to be kept very low-key, including body language and facial expressions.
With a penalty decision, for example, they are not expected to signal. Instead, they communicate with the referee through microphones.
This sets them up for a massive amount of criticism. The assistant referee at Wembley on Wednesday night, when Juventus were denied a penalty, could have buzzed the referee and said it was a foul, only to be overruled. And yet nobody in the stadium, or watching on television, can know if that is what had happened.
The reason for this rule is that Uefa do not want to show any conflict between the additional assistant referee and the referee. If he did have a flag, the whole stadium would have seen that one official believed there was a foul, while another did not.
I believe that the additional assistant referee should have the freedom to visibly make that call, and for everyone in the stadium to recognise that he has committed himself to a decision.
Otherwise, we end up with the same problems that we have had with VAR this season. VAR’s shortfall is that the public is not being informed, and that is exactly the same situation with the additional assistant referee behind the goal.
Football needs to be transparent, and if you are going to justify having these extra officials, you need to at least allow them to demonstrate where they are coming in during the decision-making process.
One of the other responsibilities they have is to judge whether or not the ball has crossed the line for a goal. Why can they not introduce goal-line technology, as we have in the Premier League?
For me, it is a waste of money to have these additional assistants. The sooner VAR gets up to speed, and the sooner match officials become efficient with the technology, the better. That’s the route to go.
I expect that, half the time, these additional assistants are leaving the field at the end of matches having not done anything. The level of expenditure involved in having all these officials – there are so many of them that they almost need a team bus nowadays – should instead be moved to developing and refining the video system.