Tim Vickery’s column: Could video referees end controversy in Brazil?

Tim Vickery’s column: Could video referees end controversy in Brazil?

    Author: Tim Vickery

    Santos - Pato and Fabiano
    Sao Paulo strikers Alexandre Pato and Luis Fabiano

    There’s an old saying which points out that ‘the European player takes the field disposed to win or lose. The South American player takes the field disposed to win or to blame the referee’.

    Brazil’s referees know all about it. This year the Monday round-table discussion programmes have been spending more time arguing about their decisions over the weekend than discussing the game itself.

    This is a country obsessed with behind-the–scenes plots and, for all the paranoia, sometimes there is fire to accompany the smoke.

    A decade ago a number of games in the First Division had to be replayed after a referee was found to be in the pocket of a betting syndicate – a measure which had a direct bearing on the destiny of the title.

    Marco Polo del Nero, president of the CBF (Brazil’s FA) came to the defence of the referees two weeks ago, saying: “We have seen considerable progress, with the ball in play for more time, fewer fouls being awarded and punishments issued to players and coaches who fail to treat the referees with respect.”

    Even so, he conceded: “We continue to see inflamed speeches, often made by club directors, which cross all limits and generate a climate of animosity, based on unacceptable conspiracy theories.”

    Del Nero’s words had little effect. The shouting and screaming went on. His organisation is under pressure – an investigation is being carried out into its finances, and there is the prospect of some clubs launching a breakaway league.

    The CBF president, then, has seen it wise to take further steps. After a meeting last week with club representatives, he has decided to take a bold measure – he will seek FIFA’s acceptance of trial use of a video referee in next year’s Brazilian Championship.

    “We want Brazil to take on a leadership role in the process of the introduction of technology, and to serve as a reference for other leagues around the world,” Del Nero added.

    The idea will probably be floated next month, when ex-referee Manoel Serapiao Filho travels to London for a meeting of the technical committee of the International Board.

    The CBF propose that a video referee help out “to correct clear technical or disciplinary errors which could directly alter the result or the development of the game, obeying the principle that the game should not be interrupted”.

    They propose that the video referee give a ruling in the following circumstances:

    – Determining whether the ball crossed the goal line

    – Determining if the ball went out of play in the build up to a goal or a penalty

    – Determining whether there was an offside in the build up to a goal or penalty

    – Determining whether a foul has taken place inside or outside the penalty area

    – Determining whether a clear and indisputable error has taken place in the award of a goal or a penalty

    – When violent conduct has not been seen or has been dealt with inadequately.

    “It is important to stress that technology will not avoid all the errors made by referees,” said the president of the CAN (Nacional Council of Referees), Sergio Correa – a man well aware that in a sport where the word ‘interpretation’ is so important, those Monday rows are not going to disappear.