“It was clearly a foot that we could all see on the big screen, we all saw it.” The words of Argentina’s Gonzalo Peillat in the wake of yesterday’s game against Australia when his side were inexplicably denied a penalty corner in the closing stages.
It would have offered a chance of an unlikely win against the tournament favourites having reeled in a 2-0 half-time deficit, a result that would have reignited a faltering campaign.
Juan Manuel Vivaldi went further, saying, “They have all the technology there to resolve those things and the replays on the screen in the stadium, we could all see.
“All the public could see it. On the screen you could see the foot, despite having all the technology it didn’t help.”
Except the ball never went near the Australian defender’s foot despite the two replays that appeared to show as much on the big screen in the Riverbank Arena.
Except the technology was there and very much the right decision was reached. This much was proven in a hastily arranged press conference by the technical officials in order to clarify how the video referral system works and how that tallies with what appears on the screen.
After a spate of complaints, queries and downright confusion in the stadium – and from the volume of twitter debate, on the small screen too – it was a necessary exercise in delineating the process. The unedifying part, though, was that – for hockey – from a sports presentation point of view, no easy solution was reached to help solve these problems.
In the video booth, there is access to eight camera angles, all of which are available to the broadcasters. When the incident above was referred, video umpire Hamish Jamson checked the two main angles, both of which looked certainly to have hit a foot.
To triple-check, though, he decided to have a look at a low-level angle from the sideline that showed the Australian defender’s stick touched the ball with clear daylight between his feet.
For the broadcaster, this third angle was never checked. It left the crowd mystified, a situation that has become more prevalent as the tournament has progressed. As a presentation – primarily conducted by Ray O’Connor – it was fascinating but within the subsequent question and answers session lay the rub.
Why is there a disconnect between the video review booth and the broadcasters? In the EHL, the in-booth camera allows the viewer to see what concerns are being addressed and how the decision is arrived at.
Here, that link is broken. As such, should the broadcaster be allowed to show the replay or – like many other sporting events – switch to an advert or video segment on the big screen to entertain the crowd.
Furthermore, the stadium announcers have – on two occasions – added to the confusion by feeding incorrect information on what question is being asked by the team or umpire reviewing. Ultimately, the manner of the in-stadium replays has served to unfairly undermine the umpires and raise the frustrations of the players.
Sure, there have been protocol issues on the official side. Pakistan initially called for a review yesterday against Great Britain but failed to ask a question in the 20-second time limit. While they appeared to think better of the idea, having called for the review, Marcelo Servetto should have sent the query upstairs to ask if anything was there to review.
“He started play again as Sohail Abbas called off the review. Later, Pakistan were adamant they should be able to refer a penalty corner call but the umpires said the review was gone.
This was an inconsequential one in terms of the destination of the match, Britain were 4-0 up at the time, but Australia coach Ric Charlesworth says these moments are having major impacts, citing what he felt was an injustice in the early moments of the Argentina game.
It always seems to be a problem. How can they get it wrong again? It’s frustrating. That changes the dynamics a bit because the other bits of play you can’t appeal. We’ve got to get that right.”
Players have not been immune from not knowing the rules. Moritz Furste had a running argument with the technical bench when Belgium took a second video review in a matter of minutes against Germany, saying they had used up their one review for the half.
Such a rule exists in the EHL but the Olympic system means a correct review means you keep this avenue open if the referral is upheld. All of which confusion, delay and mixed information from review to television screen has not presented the sport in the best light on the biggest stage.
Watching the basketball a few days before, the glitz that fills even the smallest of break in play makes for a cracking experience, especially for the lay spectator. One of my colleagues suggested the handball was similar and another was at the velodrome and suggested hockey’s presentation looked mid-90s by comparison, yet to properly evolve.
Slow hand-clapping has now greeted some of the waits for the reviews to be sorted, taking a bit of sheen off a tournament that has already shown the potential to capture the imagination. With a heavy heart, Korea have been my pick as the side most likely to entertain on the men’s side.
Not always effective, their aggressive outlook always makes a game of it, their ties with Germany and Belgium thus far among the best memories. The above-mentioned Australia match with Argentina slowed their seemingly serene progress through the tournament.
On the women’s side, the Dutch are storming ahead despite not hitting their truest heights. As an aside, they are the “least experienced” panel in the competition with lowest amount of caps and, I’m informed, the second youngest panel after Belgium.
Pool B, though, is the one to watch with – at time of writing – five sides vying for the two semi-finals spots. We found out a little more about Toni Cronk and her view through the goalkeeping helmet. When asked if she was mad to play in goal, she replied: “No, not at all, I think we’re actually the smartest, we wear all this padding and these girls run around with no clothes on, or no padding.”
Plenty of high profile guests have been in the house with Kate Middleton the most notable. Sonia O’Sullivan also dropped in and spoke briefly about her hockey connections:
“I wouldn’t know much about hockey – my sister used to play a lot, she still does, she’s a big fan. I think she’ll be impressed that I’ve come along to watch a hockey game. It was great. The crowd and the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic.”
“Things are going pretty well. We’ve had a fairly positive start. The boxers have all progressed through the rounds – we were unfortunate to lose Darren O’Neill today, he got knocked out in his second-round fight. Everyone’s really positive and enjoying the Games, and performing pretty well.”
Away from the hockey, the Olympic Park just got jam-packed as the athletics got underway, meaning the hordes stopping on the bridge for one of the many photo spots has virtually doubled. Among the throngs yesterday, South African swimmer Chad Le Clos casually strolled into one the bars in his pristine white tracksuit with his gold medal around his neck.
My route to get a gurning picture with him was quickly blocked but these random encounters are becoming more frequent as the events begin to finish up, bringing out the latent fandom, which the journalistic life tries to suppress.
** Pics courtesy of Frank Uijlenbroek/Stanislas Brochier/Grant Treeby/FIH
3 Responses to “Reviews under review – Olympic blog day 6&7”
August 4, 2012 3:35 pm Hockey watcher says
I think the hockey looks great so far, crowds are massive and the games have been good entertainment. At this stage I hardly notice umpire controversies compared to football they are not nearly as bad as the self hit rule eliminates most dissent.
August 5, 2012 6:21 pm Stephen Findlater says
** Correction: I have updated the piece to state that Hamish Jamson was the video umpire in the game mentioned above
August 7, 2012 8:06 am Ireland says
While the crowds are big & the atmosphere is great, the situation with the umpires & video reviews is a shambles. Ask any non hockey people who have eatched some of it & they think it is a joke of a setup.
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