UEFA are ‘in discussions’ over letting television viewers listen in to flashpoints between referees and players at Champions’ League games.
In a move aimed at providing greater transparency over contentious decisions, Europe’s governing body are considering making taped conversations between match officials available for broadcast at Champions’ League, Europa League and European Championship ties.
It comes in the wake of fiercely-contested penalty awards and red cards that left Manchester City and Arsenal facing early Champions’ League exits at the hands of Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively.
Marching orders: Martin Demichelis was sent off against Barcelona for a second half foul on Lionel Messi
Down and out: Demichelis, who has been City’s stand-in centre half this season, trudges off the pitch
City disputed the validity of both the spot-kick and sending-off for Martin Demichelis, after a sliding foul on Lionel Messi on the edge of the area, while Arsenal felt hard done to after keeper Wojciech Szczesny was dismissed for upending Arjen Robben inside the box against Bayern.
Both decisions had a crucial bearing on the outcome and left the viewing public wondering how they had been arrived at, whether the referee had seen for himself or taken advice from an assistant.
All will be revealed, if UEFA proceed with a proposal that is understood to have the backing of president Michel Platini, who sees it as a way of making referees more accountable without actually forcing them to appear before the cameras to explain themselves.
Dialogue between referees, their assistants and fourth officials are already routinely recorded, and UEFA bosses are weighing up whether their conversations should be handed over to television companies for broadcast, either as an audio or written transcript.
Stuck: Manchester United frontman Robin van Persie lies in despair after the 2-0 defeat to Olympiacos
In the book: Chelsea’s captain John Terry is shown a yellow card against Galatasaray just before half time
UEFA were reluctant to predict when it might come in, or how quickly the tapes would be available after games, but a spokesman told Sportsmail: ‘This is an idea which has been discussed, but nothing has been planned at the moment. Conversations (between officials) are always recorded.’
Such an initiative might help shed light on controversial incidents such as John Terry’s verbal exchange with Anton Ferdinand, when he was accused of using racist language against the QPR defender, and claims from Southampton that referee Mark Clattenburg had spoken in a derogatory manner to Adam Lallana.
Though there are no immediate plans for the Barclays Premier League to follow suit, they are bound to monitor developments with interest, should UEFA launch their bold scheme in the next year or two.
Got to go: Szczesny was sent off by referee Nicola Rizzoli for denying Robben a clear goalscoring chance
Wasted breath: Arsenal players protest against Szczesny’s sending off but to no avail