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A Case of Mistaken Identity

September 01, 2015

- Grant Whittington

We all make mistakes during the course of our work, regardless of the environment or the level of pressure involved. This is inevitable, although in the case of professional referees there will always be considerable scrutiny and an expectation to deliver accurate decisions and error-free performances. This can easily be deemed as unfair, especially as they have only recently been offered the most basic video technology to assist their real-time decision making. With some still resistant to the idea of using video technology throughout football, is there a compelling argument for following in the footsteps of rugby and cricket?

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Actually, there is. There is actually a recurring argument, and one that has caused uproar in more than one high profile game in recent times. This is the issue of mistaken identity, whereby referees have inexplicably cautioned or sent-off players incorrectly and had a direct impact on the course of a game. Such a problem reared its’ head during the recent Premier League game between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford, when John O’Shea hauled down a marauding Wayne Rooney, only to look on in disbelief as defensive partner Wes Brown was shown the red card.

In fairness to Brown he was on the same pitch as O’Shea and does play for Sunderland, but the offence was clearly committed by Brown. This followed a similar incident at Stamford Bridge in 2014, when Kieron Gibbs was dismissed in the first-half of Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Chelsea for deliberate handball on the line. The only issue with this is that the offence was actually committed by Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, who was able to remain on the pitch while Arsenal were forced into a significant defensive reshuffle.

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