Change moves at a glacial pace in professional sport, and the adoption of more modern means to solve inexcusable problems in football is amongst the slowest moving change. The Premier League finally — finally! — introduced goal line technology this season and referees across England are seen running around the pitch wearing their Dick Tracy watches, waiting for that little telltale vibration to confirm what they might not personally have had a clear view of.
With ghost goals done and dusted to very little actual fanfare or controversy this year, some are turning their attentions to the problem of erroneously made calls in the area between the two goalmouths. From incorrect offsides to the sending off of the incorrect player after a handball, there have been numerous mistakes made this season that might be chalked up as "part of the game" by the more romantic amongst us but can have serious ramifications on one or both teams for the rest of the game. Liverpool experienced their own such moment on Sunday against West Ham.
"I think everybody saw clearly that I was fouled when I collected the ball," said Simon Mignolet after being on the receiving end of Andy Carroll punch to the face and slap of the arm that caused a caught ball to get loose and end up in the back of the net.
"I'll never judge a decision made by a referee because I know how difficult their job is, but I think this is a great example of why we might need to think about bringing video images into the game to help the referees out in these situations. I think the debate between the linesman and the referee after the incident on Sunday took longer (than video images)."
He's not wrong. One of the most common arguments against video replay is that it slows down the game with the constant review of play, but, as Mignolet points out, the time it takes to confer with and then ultimately override your linesman doesn't necessarily make a referees job any faster than if he did have some sort of assistive technology at his disposal.
Whistles will continue to be blown, and play will continue to stop and start regardless of how this issue continues to unfold. A certain degree of error is a part of any human endeavour, but it's not unreasonable to wish that when it comes to football, that human error takes the place of a misplaced pass or an ill-taken penalty rather than a referee making a decision about a play without having actually witnessed it.