Video replay, diving, commercials, and when it is a foul to NOT kick someone

Video Replay Will Result in Long Stoppages in Play

In Olympiakos’ 2-1 win over Arsenal, the final whistle was blown at 92’14″. And after all the passes had been counted, the knockdowns, headers, shots, and blocks it turns out that the ball was in play for only 56’40″. Olympiakos had 29’47″ and Arsenal had 26’53″ worth of actual possession. The remaining 35’34″ was time wasted on players arguing calls, resetting the game, taking throw-ins, and countless other ways that teams stop play.

Still, Olympiakos v. Arsenal was an atypical match for the Champions League. According to Otpa (via @Orbinho on twitter), the average time the ball is in play in most Champions League games is actually 66’54″ and the average amount of time wasted is 26’42″. The average amount of time wasted in a Premier League game is 29’42″. The average amount of time wasted when someone watches Stoke v. West Ham is 90’30″.

Video replay in the NFL takes 60 seconds.

Still too long, only retroactive bans are acceptable

I honestly don’t understand how someone can be against in-game video officiating but in favor of post-match retroactive bans because both use the same technology, and yet one gets the call right when it matters, while the other gets the call right when it doesn’t matter.

What if, last season during the final game between QPR and Man City, a QPR player had taken a dive in the 94th minute and the official awarded a penalty. Would anyone have cared that the official got the call right a week later and retroactively banned the player for two games? No.

Now, multiply that by every FA Cup game, every Champions League knock out match, etc. Retroactive bans are only useful if the official legitimately misses something truly egregious.

Video replay will not get all the calls right

Duh. Nothing will get all the calls right, short of omniscience. Video replay will, however, get more calls right. Or at least give the perception that they are getting more calls right. See, the Laws of the Game are really part of the problem.

Let’s say you have a collision between two players, officials are required to judge a person’s intent when deciding whether it’s accidental, intentional, careless, reckless, or whether one or both players used excessive force. If you’ve ever seen Howard Webb officiate a game then you know that one referee’s interpretation of recklessness is not the same as another’s. None of that will change using video replay refereeing.

The other problem is that (as I understand it) The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB) issues interpretations of the Laws of the Game and these interpretations are not made public. In conjunction with video refs I would add that there should be a post-match break down of those decisions, including which laws were used to make the call. That way we can argue forever and a day over whether they were right in making the call.

The League Will Show Commercials During the Replay

Some folks argue that if you institute video replay officials, the League will be tempted to take a “time out” while the officials decide and during that time out, the television broadcasters will show commercials. I agree, they probably will.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but football is already overrun with commercials. In England, you have the shirt sponsor, the shirt manufacturer, the name of the stadium, the official ball, and every player has their own shoes. Some teams even have two sponsors, one for their home and away kits, or one for their regular kits and one for their practice kits. And every team, even the smallest team in League 4 has advertising hoardings.

Worse, if you watch any of the top clubs, the advertising hoardings are no longer static billboards telling you to get your truck towed by Bill’s Towing, they are now a movable feast of advertising which not only rotates through several different product advertisements in a game but include video and other action elements to draw your eye.

It’s all part of the arms race to add a few more coins to the coffers so that your team can buy (or not buy) the very best players they can afford. Given that, I think it’s natural that there would be commercials while the video replay official made a ruling on the field.

You have two choices if that  happens 1) go get a beer like everyone else in the world does or 2) take some action against this travesty and start a major and I mean MAJOR leaflet campaign, follow that up with a car boot sale, a whist drive, some street theater, and possibly even some benefit concerts. I would recommend getting a start on extricating commercialism from football now, because you have a LOT of work to do. Good luck.

Did Cazorla Dive?

The award for “Most intentionally misconstrued interpretation of the laws of football” goes to this comment about Cazorla’s dive:

With due respect Yank, if you acquaint yourself with the FIFA’s Laws of the Game, Rule 12 (sic), you will see a player can be fouled, without actually being kicked.

Law 12, which I am familiar with as it’s the same law for Yanks as it is for Redcoats, does state that an “attempt to kick” is a foul.


A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • jumps at an opponent
  • charges an opponent
  • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • pushes an opponent

We all know that attempting to kick an opponent is a foul if we’ve watched even a single season of football. For example, if Rooney knocks Cazorla over and while he’s lying on the ground Cazorla tries to kick him it is a foul regardless of whether he actually makes contact. Same with trying to punch someone in the face, it doesn’t really matter if you’re terrible at punching, just trying to punch someone is a foul! Note that these fouls do not occur when the defender is trying to win the ball. Those are a special category and will be dealt with in a second.

However, it’s not enough to attempt to kick someone to draw a foul, the person attempting to kick must also be acting in a way that is “careless, reckless, or using excessive force”. 99% of the time, if you’re kicking someone out of malice, it’s going to be at the least careless, if not reckless.

In the case of Reid v. Cazorla the question you have to ask, then, was whether Reid was careless? Depending on how you view the action that happened (and almost certainly whether you’re an Arsenal supporter or not) you can come to any number of conclusions. However, it looks to me like Reid tried to avoid the contact and in that case was actually showing some care for his fellow professional and as such, it cannot be a foul. That’s if you try to say that Reid was trying to have a kick at Cazorla.

Those six fouls above are not to be used to adjudicate a tackle. They are supposed to be for the situation where a player has a vicious little kick out at an opponent, not for when a defender thinks he can win the ball. In this case, I think Reid was making a challenge for the ball, not having a shitty little kick out at the opponent. In that case, the player must make contact for a foul to be called. Completely missing a tackle is not a foul.It’s in the laws.


27 thoughts on “Video replay, diving, commercials, and when it is a foul to NOT kick someone

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1Cocqueface

    Commercialism isn’t a problem for me. TV commercials are the problem. Gervinho can get emirates tattooed on his forehead for all I care. And I like beer as much as the next guy but I’m not gonna start drinking at 5am as I’m not an alcoholic. Good article though, Tim. Appreciate your hard work.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      You know, it’s amazing that some plucky advertising firm hasn’t yet identified Gervinho’s forehead as prime space. Gervinho could make a lot of money, though it is conditional on him actually playing…which I hope not to see…ever again.

  2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Dick Swiveller

    That’s a lot of sense, I didn’t know there was anybody arguing for retroactive bans but not in-game technology, it takes all kinds.

    Incidentally, anyone else shocked by the silence over Rafael diving for United’s winner yesterday? Thought not.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1carpe duvet

    The introduction of in-game replays and reviews in international cricket has been a great success. The delay of a minute (or sometimes more) for a reviewed decision has added to the game. It tended to be the commentators and journalists who moaned at first but even they caught up. Players and crowd got straight into it and made it work.

    I think the addition of TV adverts during a review would be too much of an interruption though. The moment of waiting is actually quite exciting/entertaining in itself for players and the crowd (as part of the spectacle generating atmosphere) and doesn’t have to be apologised for or smothered by an irrelevant ad.

    Maybe if the screen split and it was still possible to hear the commentary and see the players faces I suppose purely visual ads could pop up, but anything else would be too much.

  4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1gretskie

    He he red coats! I like that Yankee.
    Sorry to be a boar but the technical difficulties of having commercials in a review. They are of indeterminate length. How long is your commercial? How much can you charge for being on the possible list of commercials that may or may not be aired? Could they do play or don’t pay type of thing. Also would there be extra pressure from those governing the game to have more reviews to get more commercials in. We know they like a few extra bob (translate bucks).

    By the way I think it could enhance the game. In game reviews that is. Commercials in there if it could be done. No real moral objection. There’s enough adverts about in life. As you say it’ll be a while before football is de-commercialized.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1alex cutter

      As someone who’s worked in tv and advertising for almost 20 years, there are no technical or logistical reasons why advertising during call reviews couldn’t easily be done.

      The time could be allocated to the halftime sponsors as a value-added, or sold off to other sponsors with the understanding that no fees would be charged if review situations didn’t occur. The league would establish that reviews have set lengths of :30, :60, or whatever. Sponsors would have advertising ready to go at these predetermined durations.

      Personally, as an American fan who was drawn to football because of the endless stream of advertising/time-outs in American sports, I could do without in-game tv ads, but it could easily be done. And it’s not like I don’t use Tivo to watch sporting events anyway — so no problem skipping through them.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    it seems this comes up every year, once or twice. this year, the shitstorm seems far less virulent than it had been, say, 4 years ago from the Eduardo farce. shit happens, and Cazorla’s previously stirling reputation with the English football punditry seems to have canceled itself out with his obvious dive. and, crucially…there has been no campaign, at least on the level we have become accustomed to from the gutter press, to stain Cazorla in the way Wardo and Pires were targeted.
    Most of the controversy seems to come from the Arsenal blogosphere. I know there aren’t as many topics as there used to be, and that it is necessary to write a new article every day, but an article on the fluid intricacy of our middle 3 on Saturday, and the reemergence of Jack, who looks like the English answer to Cesc Fabregas after a short while, might be a better editorial pursuit than following the breadcrumbs laid by Eric Wynalda! or at least some good transfer talk. nothing is changing in regards to diving, or flopping. the nba is 1/4 of the way into its season, and has invoked its own flopping rule…guess how many times.

    1. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      “an article on the fluid intricacy of our middle 3 on Saturday, and the reemergence of Jack, who looks like the English answer to Cesc Fabregas after a short while, might be a better editorial pursuit”

      I haven’t written that article because I disagree that Arsenal were fluid in midfield on Saturday (against West Brom missing Yacobs) and that Wilshere is the second coming of Fabregas.

      I could go into great detail about the Arsenal passing but suffice it to say that the real difference is that Arsenal huffed and puffed and got three points. There was one neat training ground moment but apart from that, it was hardly a shadow of a mediocre Fabregas-fueled performance.

      Personally, I like to save the effusive articles of praise for Arsenal when they really deserve them. I’m not a cheerleader.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

        I agree about your statement on Jack. He is a different type of player than Fabregas. I don’t think he set the tone of the match and attempt a lot of killer passes. In fact, one of the characteristic of Arsenal when we still have Fabregas is, its strikers tendency to get a really good position or even a one on one from one of its midfields, particularly Fabregas, passes.

        On the midfield not so fluid, I’m in two minds. What define a fluid midfield? Is it their passes connection to one and the others? If it is, I thought that Jack as a midfield connectors between Cazorla and the three forward players and also Arteta as the tone setter are having a good passing percentage? I assume that to answer this question is to have the stats on their passing to each other which i don’t have any. So, maybe their not as fluid as the Barcelona Busquets-Xavi-Iniesta/Fabregas, but I thought that our midfield performance on WB was more fluid then recent matches (I didn’t watch the Swansea match though, which from Tim Numbers was the highest passing percentage on the final third of the opponent).

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        certainly not! one back-heeled champions league assist to Chamakh does not a Fabregas make, in spite of much early optimism! wish you wouldn’t harp on about the diving hullabaloo though. ignore it and it goes away.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Certainly not Fabregas but certainly not Ramsey either.;)

        Read arseblog for a good appreciation of Jack.

        Yes, there was a bit more space offered to us by West Brom but jack’s dynamism in midfield was the difference in lifting our recent stale performances in the middle.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Actually, I think the blogosphere is responding to (rather than creating) the national obsession with diving. Headlines on Saturday night were full of it, and the Daily Mail, for instance, has published no less than six articles since Saturday afternoon condemning Arsenal and Cazorla, including an illuminating bit of writing from Graham Poll (in the sense that it illuminates what a self-obsessed piece of shit he is).

      I do agree, however, that the clamor is not what we’re used to. Nothing like after the Eduardo incident. Maybe the recent diving of Young and Bale has made the media less inclined to make hypocrites of themselves?

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        it is much less intense, and will be of much shorter duration, and with far fewer consequences. Bale, Young, and the fact that the top teams are now City and Chelsea (apart from the obvious leviathan), and they are all motly foreign as well. the media worships money, money buys foreign talent, and foreign talent wins leagues and engages in histrionical acrobatics, seems to be the conclusion! Arsenal are an afterthought, we’re not big enough to be worth kicking around anymore.

  6. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Cocqueface

    I feel like the tv commercial question is one of a slippery slope. What gets reviewed? Goals?Goals plus fouls in the area? Fouls outside the area that could be a “scoring oppurtunity”? Then they’ll figure with all the reviews creating advertising opportunities why not just add “tv timeouts” at any stoppage near the fifteen and thirty minutes. Next thing you know 90 minutes of football just became three and a half hours.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    Totally agree with real time TV replay if used judiciously.

    Could be used after goals if the video official thinks there is a hint of injustice involved. It normally takes more than one minute for the rejoicing to end, ball placed on the center spot and teams properly assembled for restart.

    Could be used for penalty decisions, either called by the video official or requested by the opposing manager who has 1 challenge per game, or 2 maximum if he wins the first.

    Goal line technology could be used for instances when there is doubt about the ball crossing the line. Once again, review could be done in about the same time it now takes for opposing team to complain to referee, ball to be spotted, penalty kicker assigned and GK holding up play to psyche out kicker.

    The video officials would have 30 seconds to inform the ref whether the play stands or request an additional 60 second review. Ergo, maximum of 90 secs. As in the NFL, the onus would be on clear and plausible evidence to overturn the standing decision. If it’s not clear, the on field decision stands.

    Managers would only be allowed to challenge incidents where a goal has been scored, penalty given or red card offense.

    Instead of having 2 additional refs behind the goal who do absolutely shit all, they could be trained as video officials with full time access to a big screen and multiple camera angles.

    Not certain I would welcome commercial s during these breaks as it could be a good opportunity for commentators to discuss the game and the impending decision. Also, split screen as in NASCAR could be a viable alternative in that it would sustain the atmosphere (I totally ignore those commercials anyway) :)

    See, I have solved all our problems in 10 minutes and I’m just an ignorant Yank ;)

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Agree with most of what you say except for the ineffectiveness of retroactive bans. Yes, you are absolutely correct that punishing players after the fact does nothing about the game in which the actual infraction occurs. That mistake still stands. But retroactive bans aren’t about getting the calls right, they’re about changing the behavior of the players.

    For example, players dive because the risk-benefit analysis hugely favors diving. The benefit is a penalty kick or free kick in a dangerous area. And the risk is a fairly low chance of getting a yellow card. But if players knew there would be post match video review and if the punishment was severe enough, it might lessen the chance they’d try to dive in the first place. In game video review is about helping the ref to make the right determination as to whether or not a player dived. Post match video review is about preventing refs from even having to make that decision by discouraging players from diving (or whatever other behavior you want to discourage) in the first place.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    I like the idea of in-game video replays. I think each manager should be allowed as many challenges on any ruling as they get right, and one wrong challenge. As soon as they get a second one wrong, their out of challenges. Caveat: all challenges must be relayed to the fourth official prior to play being restarted. There you go… no time lost and may even speed things up a bit. ‘corse, what do I know… I think the clock should stop everytime the ball goes out of play, and only restarted once play resumes.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      It’s true, I should have written a knee-jerk piece about how much better Arsenal were after they finally decided to show a little application and press in midfield and higher up the pitch.

      You love it when I write reactionary pieces.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1dano328

    I on the fence with using video as I see both sides. I stopped watching NBA, NFL, MLB specifically because of commercial breaks. Having a shirt sponsor is nothing like a two minute break in the action every 10 minutes.

    Wanted to throw something else Off-topic out there. If Huntelaar thing is realistic, Henry still provides something different. Some are saying Huntelaar does nothing outside of the box and has poor link up play etc. I definitely want him unless a better name emerges. Henry wants to stay until May. Is it possible that Arsenal could send NYRB a young striker on a temporary trade. Or Chamack.

  11. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Admiral Sir George Cockburn

    Sorry to read my construction of the Laws doesn’t quite fit your agenda; fortunately for us, referee Jones does know how to interpret them.

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1darud

    I love the way that every game is a ‘must win’ and that every potential defeat will spark ‘fan fury’ and could be the major catalyst for change. Its already pretty funny reading how each defeat is cranking up the pressure on Wenger

    FFS – this is a man that has overseen us getting our arses whacked 8-2 – our worst PL defeat ever and one that can never be removed from the record books, throw away a 4 goal lead, throw about 2-0 and 4-2 leads against the Spuds, and who at one stage last season led us to 17th place !

    Anyone who can ride out that little storm and still receive full backing of the board and 7m a year isn’t going anywhere first. Providing we get at least a Europa League spot this season, which we probably will as contrary to popular opinion the PL is a crock of shit, he will be staying. Virtual Trophy means an undoubted contract extension, Europa League means suck it and see for another 12 months during which if we get back on course for the VT renew it as and when.

    Only total collapse this season and next will result in the Coach of the Decade moving on. If we lose to Bradford, Reading and Wigan in the next 3 games he’ll still be free of pressure because everyone else will keep dropping points from 3rd downwards and therefore we’ll be a handful points away from the VT positions and out of a cup that he dismisses anyway. Meanwhile the excitement of a CL last 16 draw will have him reinforcing our wonderful 13 year record with thinly veiled digs at the likes of City and Chelsea for going out. Then January comes along, he makes Kroenke another few million to fund his pending dividend and has fulfilled the board’s ambition once more

    There’s Only One Arsene Wenge

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