Former World Cup referee Howard Webb believes that most officials welcome greater help from video technology and will not be undermined deferring to a colleague watching replays. Last season, the Netherlands trialled closed tests on such a system and will continue to train their officials for a time when they are given the go-ahead by FIFA, who rejected their application to run a live trial.
Webb has seen the technology in operation first-hand and believes the only way to see whether it will be of benefit or not is to actually put it into operation. "There is a misunderstanding in the public's eyes that referees would be against it because it would undermine their authority but even the PGMOL (the UK's official body for officials) were pretty positive about what is happening here," he told Soccerex in Manchester. "We went to Amsterdam Arena to look at this in practice. We are keen to look at anything which makes us more credible on the field of play and means we make less mistakes. You will always have subjectivity in refereeing and decisions but I think we need to see it live-trialled because we won't be able to see the argument moved forward. If the goal is to be 100 percent accurate on decision-making we won't reach that because what you and I think on a handball, for example, can vary because football is a subjective mater. But what this system would do is rule out those clear mistakes which can affect not only a game but the career of a referee, whose career can be tainted by one particular decision".
UEFA president Michel Platini has long been opposed to video technology, although he has conceded some ground and allowed it to be used at Euro 2016. Platini is running to be FIFA, Blatter's replacement which, if successful, is likely to mean there is less experimentation with technology in the world game. But Webb called for the Frenchman to be more open-minded, saying: "He's had a long held view not to support technology. I would say let's at least trial it."
Webb retired from refereeing in 2014 to become technical director for PGMOL but has since quit that post to become a pundit for BT Sport and consultant head of refereeing in Saudi Arabia. He admits officials in the Arab nation come under far more scrutiny that their Premier League counterparts. "There is certainly pressure on referees over there. The media are pretty keen to focus on mistakes made by referees,'' he added. "Genuine mistakes are analysed and inferences drawn as to why mistakes are made. It is a tough place to be a ref".