This past weekend once again raised the debate of whether or not the referees in the Premier League are good enough. Multiple decisions that were made were argued and disputed and heightened the possible need for video replays.
One incident that has been particularly noticeable was the confrontation between Burnley’s Ashley Barnes and Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. When watched on replay the tackle the former made on the latter was very dangerous and could in fact have broken the Chelsea midfielder’s leg. However, Matic’s retaliation earned him a red card and Barnes carried on in the game, with Burnley managing to grab an equaliser after the incident. Refereee Martin Atkinson came under a lot of scrutiny after the incident due to just how dangerous the initial tackle was that was clearly seen on the video replay.
Secondly, the match between Southampton and Liverpool where, on four different occasions, referee Kevin Friend denied both sides a penalty – three for Southampton and one for Liverpool. The decision made by Friend of course had to be almost instant in order to keep the flow of the match. However, the video replay showed that Southampton’s penalty appeal was certainly a penalty. Along with the penalties, there was an incident where Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet handled the ball outside the box when closing down Southampton midfielder Eljero Elia. Once again, the speed of the incident made it almost impossible for Friend to be 100% certain that Mignolet did in fact handle outside the box.
In Former Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo’s FIFA Presidency manifesto, one of the most notable points is the use of replays to aid the officials to make sure such decisions as the ones named above will definitely be the right decision. Some strongly agree with this idea, as it will certainly improve the game in terms of the decision-making. However, most believe that it could ruin the game as it might slow it down and ruin what is so popular with football nowadays, the speed.
Whatever happens in the future when it comes to discussing video replays as an aid for the officials, what is clear is the refereeing standard in the Premier League as far lower than fans, players and club staff believe it should be at, seeing as it is regarded as the greatest league in the world. Things surely need to change.