Six refs or a camera? It’s got to be time for TV judges videoman

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Having seen it in use – with an extra referee behind either goal – I can see some merit to it, and it won’t be the only sport to have five officials or more on the pitch (football’s current fourth official, of course, stays by the team dugouts). In American Football, for example, they have seven.

However, I was much taken by former referee Graham Poll’s comments on the idea. ‘It is better than the current situation,’ he said, ‘because the overall referee in charge of the match can’t see everything that happens in the penalty area or, indeed, what’s happening off the ball. But surely, with today’s technology, the best and quickest way for a referee to make a decision is to go to a video referee, upstairs.’

Poll also made another interesting point. ‘The policy, throughout football, is that whatever laws are introduced at the top level will also apply lower down, even to junior level. And I simply can’t see that happening.’

No, neither can I. Can anyone involved within football on the Island imagine there being six officials at every game?

At times the Referee’s Association are hard pressed to find a minimum of three or even one on really busy weekends, so it strikes me as a non-starter . . . so I’d much prefer, for premier and international games, to do what they do in rugby.

If the referee is in doubt – and definition of ‘doubt’ would have to be looked at very carefully – then he should be able to go to an extra official monitoring the situation on film. It might be that, as in rugby, he could only query whether he could give a score or not – anything like off-the-ball incidents might slow the game down immensely – but as Poll said: ‘the technology’s there. So why not use it?’

On the subject of goals, two weeks ago Ireland were cruelly robbed of a game against France thanks to an adroit flick of the wrist by Thierry Henry to set up the winning goal of the tie.

Afterwards, although explaining that, perhaps, the game ought to be replayed, he defended his action by saying it wasn’t his fault, it was the referee’s for ‘not seeing what I had done’.

Arguably, an extra referee behind the Ireland goal would have seen Henry cheat, but what surprised me is how many other sportsmen immediately came to Henry’s defence. Matt Dawson, for example, England’s World Cup winning scrum-half admitted to taking advantage of an eight foot knock-on to score a match winning try in the qualifying rounds of the World Cup against Wales and then Michael Vaughan, former Ashes winning captain, admitted that he had been caught at various times – and never walked.

Scarce consolation that, to the Irish!

But what Henry will recognise only too clearly now is that no matter how many international caps he wins, he will always be associated with cheating Ireland out of a World Cup place.

Just as Maradona, famously, scored against England with ‘the hand of God’, Henry’s handball, in England at least, will always go down as ‘the hand of frog’ – which is a shame because he deserves a much better epitaph than that.

However, on the subject of a goal-that-should-have-been-disallowed, I was much taken by this, from the French teacher’s union who, you’d think, would be pleased that France had qualified for football’s World Cup, albeit at the hands of a cheat.

‘We condemn and challenge statements by (French) coach Raymond Domenech and some of his players, saying the main thing in sport is to win.’

The equivalent of the French NUT are rightly horrified by Henry’s handling of the ball before he made light of it; for when asked if he should have admitted to cheating he said: ‘Should I stop and tell the referee and then cross? No. That is very funny. You are very funny.’

However, what he, Dawson, Vaughan (and even Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA), are telling the next generation of schoolchildren is that there is nothing wrong in cheating, particularly if you are cheating ‘on behalf of your country’.

The French Association of Schoolteachers deserve praise for condemning an un-sportsmanlike act which Henry tried to pretend was some kind of joke. What message does cheating – without apology – give to our children and to all those teachers who try to instill in their charges that unsportsmanlike behaviour is always wrong?

‘Funny’, Henry? No. And by saying so you are making PE teachers’ work across Europe even harder than it already is. For cheating in sport should always be condemned, not condoned. ‘Funny’ it isn’t now, wasn’t in the past, and never can be.

Postscript: In the 1992 Muratti Guernsey’s Kevin Le Tissier punched the ball over Jersey keeper Steve Carlyon before slotting it home to equalise for the greens. Guernsey went on to win 3-2 in extra time. Last week, in the Guernsey Press, Le Tissier defended his action saying: ‘There’s no such thing as cheating against Jersey.’

Former Island assistant manager Jon Welsh has said that he is not interested in taking over the long-vacant position of senior Island team manager.

Meanwhile, he is currently helping the Dandara Jersey Football Combination team progress in the National System Cup.

I certainly can’t fault him for not taking on even more work than he currently does for football, although I have to shake my head at the lack of an ‘overall’ Island manager.

Don’t get me wrong. I am delighted that we have a team in the National System Cup. However, it strikes me that, before the next Muratti, we could have the equivalent of two Island managers, although the Football Combination will argue that their team is outside the remit of the JFA and Welsh has, admirably, already stated that he would stand aside to give any new appointee the remaining fixtures in the competition.

But for the main job? Well, I wouldn’t want it. For how many games will the manager be given each season, of any meaning? Probably one – the Muratti – and a ‘practice’ match against a mainland team before that. So, no thanks, and I can easily understand why club managers aren’t queuing up to apply for the post.

I was sorry to read that top gymnast Matthew Maletroit has given up his Commonwealth Games dreams because the Island lacks permanent facilities.

More than once in this column I have urged that some kind benefactor (or the ESC) invests in a proper, purpose-built (or modified) gym, not just for the likes of Matthew but for all the other gymnasts and would-be gymnasts coming through.

Over the years both at Le Rocquier School and Fort Regent (at the time the two centres of Island gymnastics) I can remember how painfully long it took, first to bring out and set up the gym apparatus and then to dismantle it again.

The coaches, to their credit, would probably spend longer on that than they would on coaching. And yet, even now, in the various gym clubs that remain, the sport is as popular as ever and would be more popular still if only there was a designated arena for them to practise in.

And yet, ironically, we have some of the best pitches; the best sports halls; a designated purpose-built table tennis centre and excellent tennis facilities both at Les Ormes and the Caesarean Tennis Club.

But no gymnastics centre and, come to that, no designated indoor netball hall.

So, Matthew, it would seem that since you ‘peaked’ with your fifth Island Games in Aland and seven medals. Having been involved in the sport since you were seven years old, your dreams are over – even though you probably did have a chance of doing exceptionally well, considering you were the British Universities’ three-piece apparatus champion last year.

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