World hockey’s umpire review system has received its sternest test on the sport’s biggest platform over the last few days, with several media outlets ridiculing the video challenge procedure while it was roundly mocked online during the opening days at the Tokyo Olympics.
Hockey’s video review system was first trialled by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in 2009 and over the last 12 years has evolved to such a degree that it is now seen as a key component to challenge reviews quickly in the fast-moving pace of today’s sport.
But competition officials have been working overtime to fix the issue in Tokyo after rare, lengthy delays during matches, which The Hockey Paper understands is down to the Olympic organisers’ service providers below-par set-up for filming, audio and pictures, a technology issue out of the on and off field umpires and FIH’s hands.
“They said it could not be done, but field hockey at the Olympics appears to have a more irritating Var system than football,” The UK Daily Telegraph wrote in a damning article on hockey’s video review system.
Outlining the lengthy delays experienced at the Oi Stadium, which saw players sit down as video umpires frantically searched for infringement evidence after team reviews, the paper poured scorn on the system put in place as “a bad reminder of the Premier League’s worst knob-twiddling excesses”.
‘Play stopped. Players chatted. GB goalkeeper Maddie Hinch sat down. Seconds became minutes. Empires rose and fell. A full four minutes and 27 seconds later, we went back to the booth,” Telegraph journalist Thom Gibbs comically wrote of one review which lasted nearly five minutes before play could resume.
‘”Decision ready,” at last. You could cut the tension with a chopstick. “No advice possible.”
‘In fairness to the video assistant, it did not look like a foot, maybe a knee. But that is the verdict from someone with only the loosest grasp of the sport’s rules.’
Meanwhile, in The Guardian’s report on the match, the video replay delays were lambasted, believing that the “clunky VAR process of Premier League football has nothing on some of the bewildering delays and confused decision-making processes on display by these officials.”
On The Hockey Paper’s Facebook post, linking to The Telegraph article, there were plenty of comments for and against the issues faced by competition officials in Tokyo.
“To be fair,” one post read, “the incidents described were worse than footballs VAR good decisions. Very untypical of hockey VU. Normally very good. There should be a time limit on “no advice possible”. It should never take that long.”
Meanwhile, another reader posted: “Not a great advert to try a new a sport. Unless of course we can integrate chat breaks into the game”.
The Hockey Paper will on Tuesday be publishing a story on how the FIH has tried to deal with the issue at the Tokyo Olympics.
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