Football Referees: Stronger through slow motion?

Video material leads impartial people to make harder decisions

Red Card: With slow motion footage, this penalty is distributed more frequently. © Simonkr / istock
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Reinforcing effect: Having football referees watch a foul in slow motion affects their judgment significantly. An experiment shows that slow referees make the impartial foul than violent and also evaluate the intention of the player differently than the video evidence in normal speed. The result: more red cards.

In a few days, the World Cup in Russia begins - and thus also starts the video evidence in his first World Cup tournament. The technology already introduced in the Bundesliga has been discussed a lot in the past: In which cases should the video assistant intervene at all? How do the breaks affect the game? And to what extent does the video material actually help with decision-making?

Focus on fouls

Just in time for the start of the World Cup, scientists have now dealt with the subject. Jochim Spitz from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and his colleagues wanted to know: Does it make any difference to the judgment whether an impartial person sees the situation in question at normal speed or in slow motion?

To test this, they showed 60 top referees from five European countries 60 video sequences of foul situations. In all cases shown, the referee would have been entitled according to the rules to give a yellow card - that had designated experts previously determined.

More red cards

But how would the subjects decide? As in a real game, they could either distribute a yellow card, a red card, or no card to the culprit. The evaluation showed: At both viewing speeds, the referees recognized with a similarly good hit rate, whether a foul was present. display

How violent this foul was and whether the causative player had acted on purpose or not - this assessment, however, varied significantly. As a result, those referees who examined the slow motion situations were more likely to be in the red when compared to their regular speed peers.

Tougher decisions

"Our results suggest that slow motion increases the perceived severity of a foul and makes the crucial difference in judging an action careless, unsportsmanlike or grossly unsportsmanlike, " says Spitz. Referees, after repetitions at a reduced pace, tend to make harder decisions.

"This is an important finding that should be considered when developing guidelines for the use of video evidence in football leagues around the world, " notes the study leader.

When does the technology help?

In the opinion of the research team, the video technology can indeed be a useful help in certain situations: Which player was involved in a foul, whether the offense happened within the penalty area or if someone was offside - all this is usually clearer with the help of the recorded material to recognize.

"Judging human behavior and emotions, such as the intention behind an act, is a completely different story, " says Spitz. For such situations, at least the repetition in slow motion may not be the method of choice. (Cognitive Research, 2018; doi: 10.1186 / s41235-018-0105-8)

(Catholic University L wen, 11.06.2018 - DAL)