The friendly match  between France and Spain at Stade de France on 28 March 2017 in Paris France

By Ruairi Daly

“Spain was full of ideas, creativity and confidence in their attacking play. There was a spring in their step, like the Spain of five years ago.”


Potential stars of the future lined-up earlier this week, but there was a one new kid on the block who stole all the headlines in Spain’s 2-0 win over France: video referering.

Antoine Griezmann

Yes, it’s 2017 and the most popular sport in the world still hasn’t implemented technology that can make and has made the game better. If you need reassuring about the need for video referees, Tuesday night’s game was all you needed to see. Spain and France were part of history – a moment when the world of football shifted towards the light.

NBA referee reviews a play

Tennis, fencing, athletics and American sports have already reaped the benefits from video replays, slow motion and other ways to improve and help referring judgements on game-changing decisions.

Atletico de Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann was the first to experience the sour taste of celebrating a goal two minutes into the second half – only to be correctly ruled offside – a decision which was made by the video referee.

And nine minutes after Gerard Deulofeu went down inside the box and David Silva converted the resultant penalty, the substitute was again involved as he was ruled offside having put the ball in the back of the net. But wait, video referring was again to interfere and correctly overturn the decision awarding the goal to Deulofeu.

Who would have thought that in the space of 40 seconds, the time it takes for a team on average to celebrate and trot back up the pitch, a referee can consult a fifth official in a booth to make the right decision.

Viktor Kassai, the first referee to award penalty after consulting video referee (at the recent Club World Cup)

Spain was full of ideas, creativity and confidence in their attacking play. There was a spring in their step, like the Spain of five years ago who couldn’t be touched. A far cry from the team that fell well short of last expectations in last summer’s European Championships.

Moving away from video referring and onto another issue facing FIFA – retaining interest in World Cup qualification. Tuesday’s game drew in viewers from all over the world as two big nations clashed in a mere friendly with little or no impact on qualification for upcoming tournaments.

Rewind to Friday night and Spain continued their quest to qualify for their eleventh consecutive World Cup and at least maintain their goal difference advantage over Italy. They did so comfortably in a 4-1 win over Israel, while Italy also won meaning September’s clash of the titans will be do or die for them in Group G.

The winner will begin thinking about packing their bags for Russia, while the other faces two more games to secure a play in the 2018 World Cup in a playoff.

As new dawn for football beckons, many people – including those in Spain – will hope video referees will also have their suitcases packed, bound for Russian soil.


NBA referee by Keith Allison, CC BY-SA2.0 cropped
Griezmann by Anish Morarji CC BY2.0
Kassai by Football.ua CC BY-SA3.0 cropped

About Ruairi
Born in Newry, Ireland, Ruairi Daly is pursuing a degree in Sports Journalism at Staffordshire University, England. He is the social media executive for Fresh Press and runs his own website, ReadCeltic, which focuses on news and matches related to the Scottish-based football club. He says he has “strong aspirations to travel and experience Spanish culture [he has been with Guidepost, Madrid, for months] and many other cultures around the world.”