Why There Are Only Three Referees

L’Arbitre is back! I love this guy. He’s researching and writing deeply informative stuff like this, while I’m sourcing shirtless photos of referees. Today, he addresses the additional assistant referees (like the ones used in Italy’s Serie A) and why they’re missing from the World Cup.

By L’Arbitre

During this World Cup, there are only three officials instead of five. The Additional Assistant Referees who stand on the goal line are missing.

To the average spectator, the addition of these two officials sometimes seems to have very little effect on the game.

This might be because they show no visible signals. AARs (as they are commonly referred to) communicate with the match referee via the communication headset and buzzer system. All information is relayed to the referee directly to take the advice and make a decision.

The final decision is still up to the referee.

In case you have wondered, they hold flag sticks with the flag cloth removed. The flag handle is equipped with a button that when pressed pages the receiving unit that is strapped to the referee’s hand. This alerts him that someone from the crew is trying to get his attention.

The Additional Assistant Referees are, typically, center referees just as qualified as the referee on the pitch.

They may be seen in some matches as National referees assisting a FIFA referee. This provides the referee confidence that advice relayed to him is credible.

The correctness of a referee’s decision often comes from the angle to which they are viewing the play and not from the distance they are. As a result, AARs provide an angle and perspective that the referee would ordinarily not be able to view when an attacking play is moving towards goal and the referee is often behind.

UEFA has even produced videos to show that these men have made a difference in the information they have provided.

Here’s a good article about how the additional referees help from our friends over at The Third Team.

AARs have been widely deployed in the UEFA Champions League, Euro 2012 and even in Serie A over the past two years. Despite being added to the Laws of the Game in last year’s edition, many National Associations have found the extra cost behind them not to exceed the benefit and have refrained from using this aide.

The question now is why these men won’t be at the World Cup…

With the benefit these men bring and the magnitude of the World Cup tournament, one would question why they won’t be seen guarding the goals. It was decided that using AARs at the World Cup tournament would not be fair to nations that were not afforded the same luxury during the extensive qualification phase and for consistency in decision-making tools.

The selection process for referees at the World Cup with AARs would also mean almost double the amount of referees required, additional training and expenses.

The addition of Goal Line Technology has also lifted, what often is, a controversial decision that the referees have to take during a quick ball in-and-out over the goal line. The referees at the tournament have welcomed this aide improving their accuracy in decision-making without disrupting flow. See the GLT article for more info.

As a result, FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 is not ready for the Additional Assistant Referees. Perhaps in the future.

Featured photo: UEFA

One comment

  • Honestly, I think one referee sitting in front of the monitors would be more helpful than two behind the goals. But the missing referees might explain why there were already so many wrong decisions concerning the question who touched the ball last before it went over the goal line.


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