Was umpire Andy Mair right in seeking information from the video umpire, and subsequently acting on it, about an infringement committed by an Argentinian player against a German in Friday's World Cup match?
Strictly going by the regulations for this tournament and the general FIH tournament regulations (2009), he was not. “Referrals shall only relate to whether or not a goal has been legally scored.” So says the FIH tournament regulations for video referrals for the ongoing World Cup.
“The match umpires may refer decisions to the video umpire when they are not convinced that they have taken, or are able to take, the correct decision relating to the awarding or disallowing of goals”
Apart from the above, on a trial basis for this tournament, the FIH has also allowed team referrals which “will be restricted to decisions within the 23-metre areas relating to the award (or non-award) of goals, penalty strokes and penalty corners. (The award of personal penalty cards may not be the subject of a team referral).”
The Scottish umpire, having apparently missed the shirt number of the Argentine who brought down a German forward, with his stick, inside his 25-yard area, sought the number from video umpire Colin Hutchinson, and after getting that information, promptly showed Ibarra the yellow card.
It was a yellow card offence all right, but there could be a debate whether the umpires could utilise referrals for confirming other decisions also, especially those related to penalty cards.
Indian official Muneer Mohammed, who was the judge for the match, explained that umpires had been told to take advantage of the video referrals to clarify their doubts without stopping play. Mair took the opportunity of a referral asked by the other umpire and clarified his doubt since he was sure of the foul but could not see the jersey number, Mohammed added.
The fact remained that the replays sought by the other umpire were completed when Mair called for clarification on his own doubt about a jersey number and a fresh set of replays had to be gone through.
The incident happened with seven minutes to go for the final whistle. Argentina was down 3-4 at that stage after having scored its third goal eight minutes earlier.