The AFL’s video review system must be looked into. Image courtesy Flickr user MarkBTomlinson

The farce of the video review system was plain to see on Saturday afternoon, during the Melbourne-Richmond clash. During a game noted for its return to ‘the good old days’ with a 2.10pm timeslot on a Saturday afternoon, the AFL’s latest update was plainly farcical. Two ‘goals’, by James Magner and Matt White, showed the problems with the system and how it is currently implemented.

The Magner ‘goal’ was admittedly difficult to adjudicate. Taking a set shot from 40m out straight in front, Magner’s kick was a horrendous shank which bounced in the goal square. A Richmond defender attempted to spoil with his right foot, but the ball proceeded to bounce through between the two sticks. The goal umpire and the field umpire promptly conferred; the goal umpire said ‘I believe it was a goal; I just want to check if it was touched.’ The video replay was inconclusive.

The goal umpire proceeds to pay a behind.

Now, if the review was inconclusive and the goal umpire believed it to be a behind, sure. But if the review is inconclusive and the goal umpire believed it to be a goal, the result should be a goal. In the event of inconclusive video evidence the decision of the goal umpire should stand.

However, on review of the video itself via the forward camera, you can see the Richmond players’ boot proceed past the ball. Furthermore, the ball does not deviate until it moves upwards once again, as the ball often does when it bounces due to its shape. Both factors indicate that the ball has not been touched, as there is no deviation with the Richmond player making contact.

The Matt White decision later in the game, too, was very poor. The goal umpire simply did not move quickly enough and made an error. However, his own failure to acknowledge this error is thus problematic, as the umpire paid a point when it was clearly a goal. The Richmond faithful in the City End could clearly tell, and their disappointment was obvious as well.

Both errors show the problems of the video review system. The Magner mistake is twofold. Firstly, the technology needs to be upgraded to recognise when the ball has been touched or not. A combination of technology here – with the HotSpot as seen in the cricket added with other microchip sensors to register impacts on the ball – would be the obvious solution here. Furthermore, a clarification of the rules should be made for an ‘inconclusive’ result. This clarification should be in the process of the video review. It should be:

1) The goal umpire makes a call on whether it was a goal or behind, regardless of the review.
2) The video umpire is consulted.
3) In the event of an inconclusive result, the goal umpires’ decision stands. (In the event of a conclusion adjusted by the video umpire, such a result stands).

However, the video umpire also needs more leverage in the event of a situation like the White goal. The video umpire should also gain the ability to overturn goal-line decisions based on the replay if he can clearly differentiate from the goal umpire’s view. This, however, should only be implemented in the event of high-goal events like the White decision or the Stephen Milne miss of 2004.