George Dearnaley

Human error part of the game

2008-09-23 13:13
Sport24 columnist, George Dearnaley

George Dearnaley

It’s not a new argument. Every time a dodgy goal is given, or a legitimate goal not given, a whole bunch of people jump up and shout for the use of technology in football. A few recent decisions have been really bad, though, including a ‘ghost goal’ in an English First Division match between Reading and Watford.

This was one of the worst errors of judgement I have ever seen by an official.  With the ball bouncing around the area, being cleared, miskicked, saved and cleared again, the referee’s assistant suddenly decided the ball had crossed the goal line and signalled for a goal. Needless to say - there were some bemused players out on the park, and the Watford players saved some choice words for the official at the end of the match.

It was a bad error and one that he would hope never to repeat, but if you take into account the amount of decisions that an official has to make in the course of a season, then a few mistakes – no matter how bad and how important – are going to be part and parcel of the game. Football matches are often decided by mistakes, mostly by defenders and goalkeepers, and so on the balance of things, although they are often very high profile mistakes, no team can realistically blame their relegation or claim their league title based on a single referee mistake.

These things have a way of balancing themselves out over a season, although it is hard to accept at the time. Everton pulled a goal back against Hull and replays suggest the goal should not have stood. Liverpool had a goal disallowed against Stoke for no obvious reason and couldn’t find the back of the net for the next 88 minutes. Will they point back at that decision if they don’t go on to win the league this season?  I don’t think so.

Keep technology out of football and rely on better training for officials. Most officials have never played the game at a high level, and I don’t think they have to, but some playing experience gives you an insight into the game that no book or video footage can ever do.

Ultimately forwards will miss goals, defenders will make errors, keepers will let a few easy ones in, and as certain as death and taxes, football officials will make mistakes. I bet the Reading, Everton and Stoke fans are happy this week. That’s why we love football. Get on with it.

- George got 3 caps for Bafana Bafana and is Media24's "Mr Soccer"

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24


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