Japan’s reigning domestic champions Kashima Antlers became the first Asian side to reach the final of FIFA’s Club World Cup competition. In the process, they also became the first team to be awarded a penalty because of a video replay in any FIFA competition.
According to BBC Sport, Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai was alerted to an incident in the penalty area by the video assistant referee. He then went to the side of the pitch and watched a replay of the incident using a monitor supplied by the video assistant, awarding the penalty despite Atletico Nacional’s players demonstrations.
Previously, referees could only view match changing events on video replay, rather than any event that is a point of interest.
Referee Viktor Kassai awards penalty at FIFA Club World Cup after using video replay. It was used for the first time in a competitive match. pic.twitter.com/MMquBAJG9Y
— FourFourTwo ?? (@FourFourTwoSG) December 15, 2016
This could be a turning point in the way football is officiated, with video reviews being a pivotal aspect of sports like rugby, cricket and American football. The use of video replays would allow football referees the opportunity to review and alter decisions, some of which could change the result of matches and competitions.
It might also have the effect of changing the way professional footballers interact with match officials, as decisions made on the field would not be subject to human error. Instead, outcomes would (in most cases) be absolute, meaning that players could no longer hope to change a referee’s decision by rolling on the floor and spitting out their dummy – it might even go some way to removing the impact diving has had on European and international football.
Arguably the most important impact of implementing video review regulations would be that it would reduce the chances of match fixing occurring. Referees would be more accountable for their decisions on the field, and there would also be a better chance of catching a player’s illegal actions.
Match fixing would still be able to impact leagues and tournaments without video review regulations, but removing its foothold in professional football is a positive step for FIFA, professional clubs and their supporters.
There are opposing arguments however, with video replays being stated to affect the natural flow of a match. The costs of creating and implementing video replay technology on a global scale should also be considered, with certain leagues not able to afford to implement such technology in the near future.
Another question is whether this is a priority for a sport which has been hit by scandals over the past few years regarding corruption and collusion. It could be said that this culture in FIFA’s hierarchy has prevented video review technology being implemented.
Match fixing is reported to be rife in Southern and Eastern Europe, whilst betting on sports is one of the fastest growing industries globally. These factors further highlight how the corruption of those responsible for ensuring the integrity of the sport has created and nurtured a culture of match fixing in certain regions of European football, preventing video review regulations being implemented by football’s governing bodies.
Removing it completely might not be a realistic goal, but curtailing the effects of match fixing wherever and whenever possible should be one of FIFA’s priorities.
This one-time usage of a video replay in a FIFA competition does not mean that video replay regulations will be implemented overnight, or even in the next few years. It is, however, a positive sign that FIFA is moving in a more honest and accountable direction, and is willing to proactively seek solutions to problems on the pitch.
Kashima Antlers went on to win their semi-final against Atletico Nacional 3-0. They will face either Spain’s Real Madrid or Mexico’s Club America in the final on the 18th of December at 19:30 Japanese local time.
Graham Manditsch, Pundit Arena