By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer
In Play of the Week 15 we are looking at a play from Sporting Kansas City versus FC Dallas, when the match officials were faced with a decision as to whether a goal was legitimately scored but was not detected.
The ball was played forward by FCD’s Maximiliano Urruti and intercepted by Sporting defender Lawrence Olum who attempts to play the ball back to his goalkeeper, Tim Melia.
However, Olum steers it past Melia and, with the ball on its way to an empty goal, the ‘keeper scurries back to prevent it from going over the line for a certain goal. The video clearly shows the ball wholly crossing the line with the match officials not awarding the goal.
Of course it is obvious when reviewing the play on video and from an elevated camera position. But could the match officials have seen the ball wholly cross the line? Let’s examine the positioning and movements of the match officials in question, assistant referee Sean Hurd and referee Jorge Gonzalez, to see what, if anything, can be learned from this particular play.
Firstly, AR Sean Hurd: As soon as the ball is played back by Olum, you can see Hurd accelerate in an impressive manner with a great burst of speed. But even Usain Bolt would have had trouble to beat the ball at that pace to be in the optimum position on the goal line.
When the ball wholly crosses the goal line he is approximately eight to 10 yards from the goal line, and also looking through the body of Melia. So the ball over the line is impossible for him to see. It is extremely dangerous for match officials to guess and that is something we do not encourage our officials to do. The AR in this case could not possibly award this ‘goal’.
Secondly, referee Jorge Gonzalez is standing in a midfield area and can see Olum poised to play the ball back to the goalkeeper. Everyone in the park would anticipate a long ball up field. Imagine his surprise when the ball goes past Melia. He has no chance at all of gaining any reasonable ground to be anywhere near to see the ball wholly crossing the goal line, even if he had anticipated the situation that developed.
Goal line technology would definitely have assisted the officials here. The additional assistant referee on the goal line that we have seen in Euro 2016 would also have helped. Experiments with real time instant replay are also taking place and would also have helped in this play. Referees and ARs welcome any kind of help and certainly Sean Hurd and Jorge Gonzalez would have appreciated any intervention here.
They did everything they could and I am delighted that they did not guess. As I have said on numerous times, you shouldn’t be blamed for not making a call that you can’t see. You can be blamed for making a call that you cannot see as usually the guess is incorrect. Even if they had guessed a goal on this occasion, the initiated would know it was a guess.