Hockey sticks one on football with video technology

From Philip Barker in Nottingham
Video technology finally came to England’s aid in a match against Germany here yesterday, but in hockey, not football.

The media centre at the at the Women’s Champions’ Trophy here has been buzzing for the past day about a controversial incident which many feel influenced the result.

In this tournament, teams are allowed to make two incorrect referrals per game to a video umpire. Most people accept it as a positive addition to the game.

England certainly made the best use of the technology at a critical moment. German skipper Tina Bachmann converted a short corner but the England team had noticed that the player taking it had her foot on the line instead of behind it and immediately launched an appeal to the video umpire.

Rather like the incorrect positioning of a ball at a corner in football, it is a rule breach which passes unpunished most of the time, but on this occasion the video official upheld the appeal, disallowing the goal, to the fury of the Germans.

“It was pretty smart but if that’s important it destroys hockey,” said Bachmann. “If the video umpire is used for something silly like this, then it is goodnight hockey.”

England won the match 2-1 and it was the Germans who were left fuming.

Their team manager Michael Behrmann is clearly not a man for understatement: he called it “the worst day of his life”.

Whereas football remains coy about showing controversial incidents, organisers here were happy to replay the incident on the big screen with commentary praising England’s coaching staff for studying the German corner techniques.

England captain Kate Walsh insisted, “It is the little things that count at this level.”

Controversy and hockey don’t tend to go hand in hand, though. The sport has done its best to welcome the media to the sport’s biggest event in Britain in a quarter of a century.

Journalists using the media centre found there was free wifi available – London 2012 organisers please note – and for those who’d not brought their own computers, there were even three or four free terminals available.

The competition continues until Sunday.

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