It’s been two years since goal line assistant referees – those blokes that stand on the byline on one side of the goal like the kid in school who isn’t allowed to join in – were first trialled in the Europa League. It’s a testament to their complete ineffectiveness that we didn’t even notice their assimilation into Champions League fixtures until Danny Welbeck argued with one on Tuesday night. The reason for this argument? Not a penalty decision, or an incorrectly awarded goal kick. The ball went out of play by a fraction. Or did it? Apparently, by virtue of being right next to the ball, the human eye is impervious to slight of foot and fractional error. Yeah, right.
The assistant, assistant referees are completely pointless. There have been some great excuses for them since their inception too. "The referees behind the goal aren't there as a replacement for goalline technology: rather, they'll operate as a human camera,” said Hugh Dallas back in 2009. A human camera? What? So then they ARE replacements for technology aren’t they? What’s wrong with an actual camera? Actual cameras won’t slip over when it’s wet, or get distracted by people calling it a knobhead.
“During a normal match, when a forward and a defender run into the 18-yard box together, the referee will be behind them. Now he will have a colleague who can view any resulting challenge head-on. From the initial trials the presence of the extra officials also acts as a deterrent to pushing and shoving at corners and free-kicks,” Dallas continued. Oh, OK. I don’t wish to cast aspersions on officials’ ability to officiate, but I haven’t seen two individuals more ignored since Bushby and MacDonald had too much gin and tried to hold court at a party they hadn’t technically been invited to.
Martin Tyler ruefully commented that Manchester City might have had a penalty in the Allianz Arena on Tuesday “if only the goalline assistant had been on the other side of the goal”. Oh, BRILLIANT. So even with FIVE referees, ostensibly, there is a blind spot in which an incident can be analysed to within an inch of its life. Excellent news. Let’s tell UEF- actually, let’s not. We don’t need any more of the fuckers. Sooner or later it’ll just be a huge wall of referees all around the pitch, like a fucking dreadful wall of luminous yellow narcissists all obstructing each others’ vision and then booking each other as a result.
I can’t remember the last time I saw either goalline assistant either consulted or contribute to a decision made on the field. I personally think they’d be more use (and it would be more entertaining) if they just ran around behind the goal, flapping their arms and screaming ‘Oh my GOD! This is TERRIBLE!’ at the first sign of penalty box pinball. They don’t even get flags, they get little wands. Like shit wizards.
Or even better; we have goalline CHEFS. That’s right. James Martin, Rick Stein, Ainsley Harriot and Antonio Carluccio all having a cook off behind the goal as the crowd eggs them on. Picture how fantastic it would be to see Rory Delap’s latest trajectile vomit spewed into the Arsenal box to the accompaniment of Ken Hom trying to cook an omelette before Robert Huth clobbers someone.
Only with governing bodies as stubborn and arrogant as UEFA and FIFA would you get the decision that the solution to a part of the game in which costly errors are made is to bring in MORE of the fallibilities in question. It’s like trying to make the hurdles easier by putting more hurdles in it. It’s like a manager of a national team that struggles to score goals playing 4-6-0 in an important Euro 2012 qualifier. It’s like being sent out to get some apples because your Waldorf salad’s a bit oniony, but then coming back with two more onions which then just sit next to the bowl of salad, doing nothing other than acting the onion.
And they really don’t do anything, do they? They’re like rubbish inconsequential vampires who aren’t allowed on to the field of play unless invited, and would presumably be rubbish at biting people anyway because like wands instead of flags, they’ve been given stumps instead of teeth.
As one Uefa official said at the time of the assistant, assistant roll out: “[The] additional assistant referee won't be making decisions. He'll just be communicating with the referee through his mouth-piece. Sounds prime for Saturday Kitchen then as James Martin hears in his earpiece: “Ken Hom’s omelette was a little sloppy but he’s done it in 10.4 seconds, enough to get him on the leaderboard. Oh and Ryan Shawcross may have elbowed Bacary Sagna too.”