Referees should be helped, not frozen out

Talking point
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The Independent Football

It was freezing in Turin on Thursday; the chill reached into your bones. But this is not a misguided plea for sympathy for football reporters, the people to feel sorry for were Babak Rafati and Peter Gagelmann .

Those were the unfortunate officials awarded the honour of being the additional assistant referees at the Juventus v Fulham match. Both men wore gloves, and a jumper under their shirts, but their legs were bare. Not a problem if you are running about like the ref, linesmen and players, but the pair stood behind the goallines like sentries at Buckingham Palace, only without the warming bearskin headgear. They did not appear to have any influence on play whatsoever.

What a waste of resources. Given the cash the Champions League generates, Uefa can aff-ord the costs of increasing the number of officials at matches, but the refereeing world cannot spare the manpower.

Football associations are unable to recruit enough referees as it is. Having six officials at matches instead of four has a knock-on effect down the system until, in a windswept park in Westphalia or East Anglia, there is a match without a ref.

Last week, at the same meeting which declared goalline technology was "dead" (just as Liam Ridgewell's "goal" at Fratton Park was going unnoticed) Fifa decided to continue to trial the extra officials "experiment".

A personal view is that video evidence is the only way forward but one reader had an interesting proposal. Mark Miller, from Cumbria, suggested teams could cite the opposition afterwards when an obvious case of cheating has occurred. If the citing officer, using video evidence, finds this led to a goal that score would be chalked off, and the offending team punished by deducting a goal. France would not have claimed the "Thierry Henry handball" goal under such a regime, argues Miller. It is a better idea than extra officials.