I have previously discussed whether soccer should have a video referee and after being at an AFL game last night I believe there is a good argument for using video or other technology to adjudicate close goal-line decisions in AFL too.
Not far from me I saw two incidents where it was a close call whether the ball actually crossed the goal line, and from my position, the umpire did not seem to get it right. I have not had the opportunity to see a reply which was surely shown to the home viewers of the match.
If the TV viewers can get to see a slow-motion reply of such situations immediately after the fact, why can’t they refer close calls to an off-field umpire who can watch the same video and then refer their decision back to the field umpires? Rugby union have had such a system for a while now, and international cricket and tennis matches are also using a referral system. It is time for the AFL to join the other major sports.
There are already nine umpires on the field in AFL matches: three field umpires, four boundary umpires and two goal umpires. There is an emergency umpire, who is the tenth. He is currently there as a possible replacement if needed, and also responsible for monitoring behind the play incidents. It would not be too much to ask this umpire to also be responsible for reviewing the video replays when they arise. I have a personal reason for these views – last night my team the Blues lost by 3 points and are out of the finals, if only a video referee system was in place the result may have been different.