FIFA’s idea to use five referees in football games doesn’t seem to be gaining much favor, despite it being used in the Europa Cup this season. Plans to implement it at the 2010 World Cup have been scraped, and like many recent experiments to change the traditional game, such as the now-defunct “silver-goal”, it might be best just to forget about it all together.
The five-man referee system employs two other officials who are stationed around each penalty area, with one specific mission in mind—to watch out for goal-line incidents. The idea actually belongs to UEFA president Michel Platini, who wanted to limit the use of technology in football and keep the big decisions in the hands of human referees.
It would have been a noble experiment if it was useful in any real way, but so far it hasn’t really helped all that much. Goal-line decisions happen quite rarely in games, and despite being closer, the extra referee isn’t in such a humongously better position than the linesman or main official to make the correct decision. The extremely difficult calls will be debated no matter how many referees you put out there, and only a monitor can really have a definitive say.
It’s an attempt to improve fairplay that is, unfortunately, vastly inadequate, and most of all useless. No one wants to see football infused with gadgets and machines, but there is hardly anything sacrilegious about taking a moment to check on the screen whether the ball crossed the line or not.