The controversial video referral system and the manner in which it was used during India’s match against South Africa remained the talking point at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Tuesday.
As usual, there was no explanation forthcoming from the tournament director, Ken Read, even after India coach Jose Brasa raised the issue of “delay in seeking the referral by the South African team”.
South African skipper, Austin Smith, too conceded there was a delay in seeking referral. “We were lucky to get it (the third goal) and draw the match. The umpire could have decided against the penalty because there was a delay,” Smith said at the post-match press conference on Monday night.
While Brasa refrained from criticising the on-field umpires, he said there was need for fine-tuning the entire referral process.
“We were told that the referral should be sought immediately after the foul. But in this case, there was a clear delay as we had re-started the game and even gone ahead and scored a goal,” the Indian coach said.
He said that South Africa shouldn’t have got the penalty-corner. “At best, it was dangerous play as a South African player had raised his stick above Vikram Pillay’s head. He should have been pulled up. Instead, they gave a penalty-corner against India,” he said.
FIH communications manager Arjen Meijer said Ken Read would not be available for comment.
Though Meijer conceded that the system needs changes, he said the umpire was right in seeking a referral after India had scored the goal.
“The action was too fast and the umpire had to wait for a dead-ball situation to seek the opinion of the video umpire. It reached the dead-ball situation after the goal. So, he referred the earlier foul to video umpire,” said Meijer.
Asked about the goal scored by India as play was allowed to continue, Meijer said it was illegal as a foul had been committed.
“It is unfortunate that India lost a goal, but the umpire can’t stop play in the midst of an attack, he had to wait for a final outcome. In case the referral was denied, India would have got the goal.”
He agreed that there was a delay but said that could not be avoided as “hockey is a very fast game and action shifts within seconds. I agree that there is need for some changes,” he added.
The question is how will FIH tackle such a situation if it arises at the fag end of the final with teams level on scores.