This past season, the Royal Netherlands Football Association has run trials of the Hawkeye goal line camera system as well as the deployment of 5th and 6th officials. It’s all part of a new KNVB pilot scheme called Arbitrage 2.0 (Refereeing 2.0).
The programme also includes experiments with video replay technology to assist referees at contentious moments - video referee or instant replay for short. KNVB competition affairs manager Gijs de Jong looks back on a year of trials of the video referee:
“In order to ensure that matches are run in a fair and sporting manner, the KNVB is committed to continuously improving refereeing standards. That’s why we started Arbitrage 2.0. We are very pleased with the first year of the pilot. This season, goal-line technology was used in fifteen Eredivisie games and in one international match. Additional assistant referees were deployed in nine deciding matches and in 24 games. And we explored the possibilities of a video referee. We’ll further expand the pilot scheme in the second year. This means that goal-line technology will be actively used from the start of next season and that more deciding matches will have additional assistant referees. Together with FIFA, we’ll submit a joint proposal about testing video referees to IFAB [ the world body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football] next season. If that proposal is adopted, that would be a revolutionary step in football.”
So how does it work in practice?
“The video referee is a referee outside the pitch who can support the refereeing officials on the pitch by looking at replay footage filmed by television cameras inside the stadium. At present, the video referee still works in the background and he's not in direct contact with the referee. Our pilot programme gives us experience with contentious moments in the match where the video referee may have a supporting role. We focus on situations that could be decisive for the match, such as whether or not a penalty should be awarded or matters like serious misconduct or goals scored after a foul was made."
How did the programme go the first year?
“We are very pleased with the first year of our video referee tests. On average this season, there were two or three contentious moments per game where the video referee could have had a supporting role. In these situations, we found that the video referee could have given correct advice to the refereeing officials on the pitch within ten seconds. This could have added to the fairness of matches. At the same, we’ve found that in some cases, the video referee may find it difficult to support the officials on the pitch, for instance when the referee has stopped play for offside. In that case, it will be difficult for him to intervene. Of course, we’ll include these cases in our assessment.”
What will happen next year?
“The KNVB believes that the video referee is the future in football and would therefore like to develop it further. That is why we intend to deploy the video referee in matches next season. Only then can you find out what the video referee’s added value really is and take a well-founded decision accordingly. Our proposal is to introduce video replay technology in a number of Dutch Cup or reserve team matches next season. That would be unique, because we would be the first country in the world working with a video referee. But we’re not there yet. First, our proposal needs to be submitted to the IFAB and FIFA and approved by them."