The EHF EURO 2018 Preliminary Round Group C match Germany versus Slovenia saw a historic moment. For the first time ever at a Men’s EHF EURO, the instant replay video technology was used.
The technology was called to clarify the final situation of the game, when Slovenia’s Blaz Blagotinsek blocked Germany’s throw off right after his team had netted for the 25:24 some seconds before the end. After analysis of the replay, Blagotinsek received a red card and Germany a penalty shot – and Tobias Reichmann secured a dramatic draw.
The instant video system is in use for the first time at a Men’s EHF EURO event – and is only one part of several new technologies that support referees and match officials, such as goal-line technology, a goal-light signal and new substitution area cameras.
All those technologies have been tested and used at major club events such as the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, the EHF Cup Finals and the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden.
Instant replay was installed for the first time at the EHF Cup Finals 2016, offering the possibility for the referees to immediately watch a situation on a TV screen, if they were not able to see the complete action on the court and wished to check again before reaching a decision. The instant replay includes the standard TV picture as well as additional camera angles providing an overall view of the court.
“A clear and true help for the referees”
“Instant replay is a clear and true help for the referees; for example, to assure their decision on red or blue cards, or on situations that happened behind their backs. Our referees have used it at several events, and all are happy with it,” says Dragan Nachevski, head of EHF referees.
One of the first notable times in handball’s history the instant replay technology was called for was at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2016 in Cologne. German referees Lars Geipel and Markus Helbig took the opportunity to check the replay of a Paris Saint-Germain attack in the semi-final against Kielce, during which Kielce’s Tobias Reichmann was elbowed by Igor Vori. Vori received a direct red card followed by a one-match ban.
“We were happy to have this technical support. Only by watching the instant replay we could make our decision,” Geipel commented after that match. Geipel/Helbig are also part of the EHF EURO 2018 referee team, and Geipel’s opinion has not changed: “This technology is a true help for us referees. It’s a great assistance to take a final decision in controversial situations.”
The first ever video proof system for referees was used at the 2014 IHF Super Globe in Qatar, followed by the 2015 World Championships in Qatar (men) and France (women). After a wrong decision was taken in the match France versus South Korea, use of the video proof system was stopped in Denmark and the IHF technology was revised, with a new system introduced for the World Championship 2017 in France.
At the Women’s World Championship in Denmark, during an interview with the IHF after the incorrect ruling was made about the South Korea goal, coach Young Chul Lim said that it was an unfortunate error but that this technology is vital for the future of handball, as many other sports are now using similar technology for important decisions.
First introduced at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2013, goal-line technology allows referees to use a number of cameras fixed to the goal to check whether the ball has crossed the goal-line. The technology provides referees with the opportunity to pause the game if they are unsure whether the ball has completely crossed the line, or, as the video is linked to the match clock, if the ball crossed the goal line before the end of half-time or full-time.
The use of both the instant replay and goal-line technology is exclusively the responsibility of the referees, and only the referees can decide to make use of it or not. No EHF officials or teams have the right to intervene.
An LED light installed behind the goal lights up at the same time as the buzzer sounds for team time-outs, as well as at the end of each half. This visual provides all those involved in the match with an additional signal to show that the time has stopped or ended. The signal also provides further help to the referees in deciding whether a last-second shot has crossed the line or not.
This new system provides a detailed view of both substitution areas and offers video assistance in case of decisions that concern this part of the field of play. The pictures are accessible for EHF Delegates in case of an unclear situation with player substitutions. These additional pictures are only to be used in case of a situation where an incorrect substitution has already been identified, but it is unclear which player is to be punished. It is not allowed to interrupt the game from the table.
“All EHF table officials clearly profit from this technology, which also had its premiere use on Monday [January 15] in Zagreb, when the delegate had to identify a player after a wrong change in the match Montenegro versus Macedonia,” says Nachevski.
“We want to have the objective truth, and we try to give the referees the tools they need to have as many correct decisions as possible. The referees are challenged by the quick match play and thus need our support. But still, the referees have the final decision as to the situations in which they want to use this technology," EHF President Michael Wiederer commented.