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Ways to save football - Always have respect Vol.74

30 July 2019

Ways to save football - Always have respect Vol.74

We are “football people”. We love the game, and that is why we get ourselves involved with the game as a player, a referee, a team officer or a media member. Every one of us hopes that we enrich our lives through our involvement with football.

We promote respect and fair play in football because we want to make the game into something more than just winning or losing, but to elevate the sport to a higher level where everyone can truly enjoy from the bottom of their hearts. We believe that we can enrich our own lives through our involvement and efforts to make football into something much better.

A rare incident occurred during a J.League match between Urawa Red Diamonds and Shonan Bellmare on 17 May, where an obvious goal scored by Shonan was not allowed by the referees. There is no room for discussion that the incident was caused by a critical "misjudgement."

It goes without saying that there is an urgent need to inspect the deficiency of the refereeing skills and preventive measures must be implemented in a hurry. However, I support the acts taken by the referee team at that particular situation.

It is important to note that without the implementation of "video assistant referee (VAR)" or "goal-line technology (GLT)," the four referees on the pitch are prohibited from acquiring information off the pitch to make their decisions. Even the "match commissioner," who oversees the entire match, or the "referee assessor," who evaluates the referees, are not allowed to make advise to the referees during the match.

By seeing the reactions of the players from both sides and the Shonan bench, the four referees of the match must have thought “maybe it was a goal…,” but they stayed true to the fundamental rules of football, that they must not allow a goal that was not confirmed by any of them.

The fact that the obvious goal was not allowed, is simply an unfortunate event for everyone. However, saying that VAR and GLT could have prevented this scene is simply a hindsight-based opinion. There are high costs tied to implementing VAR or GLT, and very few professional matches can have the luxury with the state of the art technology, leaving the majority of the football matches vulnerable against such misfortunate situations.

As “football people”, is there any way we can solve this issue without depending on VAR or GLT? I believe there is. It can be solved if we can summon up the courage to tell the truth.

In the case of the match between Urawa and Shonan, the players or team officials of the Urawa side could have told the referees that the ball had crossed the line.

Perhaps, if a team testify against their own advantage, the referees would have been able to make the decision despite having confirmed the goal themselves.

Although I cannot recall anything like this at the J.League, there has been many examples at the Bundesliga in Germany. In 1988, Werder Bremen forward Frank ORDENEWITZ informed the referee that he had committed a hand ball, which resulted in giving up a penalty kick to his opponent. Since then, his action has inspired many other players to do the same over the years. In Germany, it has become a “culture” to speak the truth, even if it may cause disadvantage to their own side, and this way of thinking has spread through the youth generations as well.

I have no intention to condemn the players or team officials of Urawa at all. But, it’s just unfortunate that they have lost the golden opportunity to become a hero to save the football from such misfortunate event and heighten the value of the game to a new level.

I am the head coach of one women’s team. To be honest, I have no confidence to speak up or advise my players to tell the truth if I face a similar situation at a critical moment. However, if such action does occur in a match, especially in a highly anticipated match like the J.League, it can have a tremendous impact, not only on other teams, but on the boys and girls who are playing the game. If we can raise the value of football, our lives as “football people” can be much more fulfilling.

Written by OSUMI Yoshiyuki (Football Journalist)

*This article was originally posted on the Japan Football Association Newsletter, “JFAnews,” June 2019 edition.

Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews”

The Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews” contains all the information on the Japan National Team, and all the events hosted by the JFA. Tournament results and team information throughout the nation are also available. The official monthly magazine is a must read for coaches, referees, and all members of the football family.

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