I'd honestly quite like this explained
The case for video replays/TMOs in football is well-worn by now, and pretty much unarguable. Only rank idiots can possibly still contend that it's better to have the outcomes of games, trophies and entire championships decided not by footballers playing football, but by officials making crucial mistakes. So that isn't what this piece is about.
Because the troubling thing about yesterday's events at Old Trafford is that we'll almost certainly never get to hear an explanation for them. Look at the picture above. We can can all forgive linesmen for getting the odd offside call wrong when they're out of position, looking from a bad angle or through a crowd of players, or when the ball ricochets off someone, or is played from long distance so that it's hard for the official to see both the moment the pass is made and the potentially-offending player at the same time.
None of that was true yesterday. The absolutely startling images relayed by the TV cameras show a linesman in perfect position, dead in line with the attackers, with nothing obstructing his view, and with clear daylight between the offside player and the last defender.
(Offside players plural, in fact – there are clearly TWO Chelsea players indisputably in offside positions, the further-away one obviously likely to interfere with play by offering the first a potential pass and thereby dividing the goalkeeper's attention.)
There's no debating the fact that the linesman got the decision spectacularly, abominably wrong. He's essentially only on the pitch to do one thing, and he's made an unimaginably gigantic arse of it. But what we'll almost certainly never get to hear is his excuse.
Did he sneeze at the vital moment, thereby having his eyes closed? Did he have a mini-stroke and simply forget the rules of the game? Is he still drunk from Friday night and hallucinating a second Patrice Evra who's playing Drogba on? Because I'm stuck for any other even explanations, even crazy hypothetical ones, for why such an amazingly easy, open-and-shut decision could possibly have been got wrong.
I really don't see why we can't have match officials interviewed after the game to explain their decisions. How much aggravation would be caused by having a ref either give us a good reason for his decision, or say "I was unsighted" or "It happened too fast", or even simply "Yeah, got that one wrong. I'm human, sorry"?
Would civilisation really collapse? Because by leaving the current vacuum of explanation, you open a door for theories of conspiracy and corruption which undermine the validity of the entire sport. At the very least, you're admitting that teams might as well not bother playing football for 90 minutes at all, because the outcome is if not corrupt, then certainly just a lottery.
If FIFA and UEFA won't take the simple, easily-implementable, inexpensive steps available to avoid travesties like Saturday's, no other conclusion is rational. So what WAS going through the linesman's mind? Anyone?