Premier League refs to weigh in on replay

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe correspondent

The argument over the use of video replays in European football continues to rumble on, with the English Premier League referees’ body due to deliver a document on the benefits of such technology to FIFA, the game’s international law-making organisation.

Premiership referees’ representative Keith Hackett said that initially usage would be limited to decide if a ball had crossed the goal line or not but eventually it would be extended to judge on other incidents.

A spokesman for the Premier League, Dan Johnson, commented, “We want to open a debate to see where video technology could be used. Referees are the men in charge. We want to empower them, not emasculate them.”

Leading Premiership club managers have continued to call for the introduction of video replays, among them Mark Hughes of Blackburn Rovers. “It has to be introduced,” he said. “There are natural breaks in the game that allow key decisions to be made correctly.”

A former top referee has challenged that view. David Elleray has voiced the opinion that breaks for video decisions would ruin the flow of games and potentially “kill football.” A spokesman for the Football Association said video technology has been used for retrospective decisions when players feel they have been sent off unfairly but pointed out that FIFA president Sepp Blatter was “categorically” opposed to replays during a match.