How Instant Replay Can Improve Soccer

By | February 24, 2016

Do the officials need to get better, or should more technology be introduced to the sport of soccer?

In today’s day and age, officials of any sport have been heavily scrutinized thanks to cameras that record every angle of every incident in a particular match. This can cause a slow motion replay to either prove the official correct, or for fans to get upset at an incorrect call.

In 2012, FIFA announced that it would use goal-line technology at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. FIFA also implemented it at the 2013 Confederations cup, and at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The goal-line technology trend then moved to the Premier League, and the League Cup. Bundesliga clubs also approved goal line technology that was introduced at the beginning of the 2015-2016 season.

This has caused many, including myself, to wonder why technology is only being implemented on the goal line. Why not for fouls, balls in or out of play, or any other extenuating circumstance?

Many other sports have adopted replay technology into their gameplay. Tennis allows three incorrect challenges to line calls per set (and unlimited amount if correct). In basketball, the NBA has a wide variety of rules regarding when instant replay technology can be used. Even in American football, coaches get two challenges per game (or possibly three). The sport of soccer needs to realize that without the use of replay technology, the referees can continue to have the wrong impact on a game with bad calls.

NBA Officials use instant replay to be sure that the correct call was made

NBA Officials use instant replay to be sure that the correct call was made

Thomas Dohmen wrote a paper about how social forces impact soccer officials, and found that the crowd in a match influences soccer officials, even to as far as the awarding of penalties and length of added time. Instant replay technology can help put a stop to this.

However, it is hard to challenge any and every call. Like in other sports, replay in soccer would need rules to make it easier and not as controversial as the referees themselves. In my opinion, I believe that soccer should take an approach like the National Football League implemented. The NFL allows two coach’s challenges throughout the game, but during the last two minutes of each half, any score, turnover, or possession is automatically reviewed. I believe that in soccer, coaches should get three challenges per game, and the last five minutes of the game are automatically reviewed, including additional time.

With rules, impartial officials such as the officials in Dohmen’s paper would not have the same impact on the game that they otherwise could have had. There would not be any bias towards a single team, and the outcome would be the correct one.

Works Cited:

Dohmen, Thomas J. “The Influence Of Social Forces: Evidence From The Behavior Of Football Referees.” Economic Inquiry 46.3 (2008): 411-24. Web.

Fetters, Ashley. “How Instant Replays Changed Professional Tennis.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

“Goal-Line Technology.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

Kelly, John. “How NFL Review Rules Work.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., 05 Oct. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

“NBA Official Instant Replay Guidelines.” N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

7 thoughts on “How Instant Replay Can Improve Soccer

  1. hala madrid

    Football should never include technology. That’s what makes it beautiful. It’s natural. It’s exciting. It’s controversial. If we knew every call would be correct, how could fans argue?!

  2. Pingback: FIFA Approves Trials for Instant Replay | Soccer Politics / The Politics of Football

  3. Alex LaDue

    I am a strong believer in instant replay and taking full advantage of technology when it comes to sports. While I think the NBA and NFL are on the right path to improving the game with technology, they are still not all the way there. There are some really basic things that soccer could add like goal line, out of bounds, hand balls, and offsides technology that would not really slow down the game, but they would drastically improve the outcomes. I think that in most sports, there needs to be dedicated refs who watch with monitors and other technology to monitor the game. Then they could easily relay the informations to the refs on the fields to more quickly make the correct calls. All too often a game is incorrectly decided because of a bad referee call.

    1. Mitchell

      I do like the idea that we should not have that much technology in soccer. I also agree that if we include technology in the game it should be small things like offside or out of bounds were the referee can be notified right away and the game can continue fast. If we did adapt all of the big technology like instant replays and coach challenges it would slow the game down way too much for it to be an actual soccer game. Soccer is a game where you don’t stop or slow down much during a half where if we had these big challenges and this new technology it would change the whole game.

  4. Anthony Chammah

    I personally find that soccer is a sport that benefits from the lack of technology used during the game. As mentioned in a previous comment it would definitely slow the game down. One aspect I have noticed in European sports is that they rarely have stoppage in play in comparison to their American counterparts. Two examples of this are Rugby and Football, Cricket and Baseball. While both pairs of sports are very similar the European sports have a much more continues game flow. If leagues were to add coach’s challenges, and instant replay into soccer, it would disrupt the flow of the game that Europeans love the most.

    Soccer much like most team sports is one in which the referee’s calls invoke immense responses from the fans. These calls can drastically change the game in either teams favor. Sports captivate fans through their unpredictability. The referee is a big part of this, because of his power as a third party member who ideally holds no preference for either team. The emotion these calls can elicit from fans is like nothing else in the world, and forge a sense of unity between fans of all backgrounds alike. The power an individual referee’s call holds to change the game is a huge factor of the sport and without this their would be a significant change in feeling towards the game.

  5. Breanna Atkinson

    I agree with you that there are missed called that can easily be fixed with the latest technology that has been introduced to sports. I agree with the comment above in the sense that soccer is a very continuous sport, fewer timeouts, breaks and replays than most sports we see here in America. Although calls would be more effective, it would definitely slow the pace of the game down. I guess the final answer comes down to what’s the most important, accuracy in calls or keeping the “traditional” game going?

  6. Carrie Mittl

    I believe that soccer has not implemented instant replay because it would take away from the fast-paced nature of the game. Even the goal line technology allows the referee to know the correct call within seconds, allowing for a smooth transition between the call and the next play. If soccer implements anything like the NFL challenge flag, the game will be stopped unnecessarily and take away from the authenticity that 2 halves, 2 chunks of time allows for in terms of the pace of the game. One of my pet peeves is when players get scrappy and the referee has to stop the game a lot because now the focus is on moments of the game when the clock isn’t even running. Where is the fun in that?


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