“Video Proof” – Rodric Leerling

Every weekend, photographers around football pitches are busy taking pictures. Either of their kids or to record certain game moments. And sometimes refs like me check a club website afterwards and get the chance to download a high-res pics for their own collection.

This past weekend, though, I noticed a guy with a video camera walking around the pitch. At first I didn’t take much notice of it, until the last bit of the 1st half when things became sightly hectic in front of the home goal. Our video man was positioned just behind the goal. An attack by the guests ended with a player falling to the ground just before the goal, without hitting it. Was he pushed? Did he just give up and drop? I just couldn’t tell and shouted to ‘play on’ and as result got the away team and their supporters all calling for a penalty kick.

Shortly after, I blew the whistle for half time and in the corner of my eye I noticed the video man sharing his recordings with the away Assistant Referee. My AR nodded and walked me off the pitch trying to start a polite conversation. “Looking at the video, it really was a penalty kick ref” he tried. I immediately stopped his effort to convince me of my wrong observation. “No video, I’m not interested and I sure didn’t hire a VAR”. He understood and left me withdraw to my dressing room.

In the 2nd half, a much clearer foul by the home team resulted in a pk for the away team, but that didn’t help them ultimately win the game. After the final whistle was blown, the away AR handed his flag back to me, shook hands and just smiled. Guess he learned a lesson and I hope he will refrain from using his secret weapon against referees in future.

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