Video referees: Subservience of sport to TV tech

There are fine claims — many of them made by TV companies and the pundits on their payrolls — about the benefits of instant video replays on decision-making in major sporting events. 

But, as we witnessed at the Stade de France, the mere presence of cameras and painstaking real-time analysis has done little more than improve the quality of the acting.

With the French players and management team seemingly incapable of telling la tête from le genou, we were treated to a scene with all the comic potential of Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act III, Scene 4, where Princess Katherine learns the English language. 

And while justice was done, and Gallic insouciance thwarted on this occasion, the arguments for allowing

technology an ever-increasing sway over sport are going through a well-deserved bad patch.

Soccer’s tentative steps into this arena — having already introduced additional linesmen and fourth officials and found them wanting— have already descended into a fiasco, with so many stoppages to consult a video referee in a recent Liverpool cup game that Jurgen Klopp maintained the match was cut short to maintain the broadcast schedules. 

No doubt bright people in broadcasting central and allied marketing departments will conjure up new ploys to enhance the “game experience”. 

Still, there was always Superbowl this weekend.

No chance of the Americans making their premier sporting occasion subservient to the wishes of the TV networks.


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