"Why is it that you're seeing more goals scored in this tournament? I think you know the answer: five officials makes things easier," Michel Platini said yesterday. "With five, officials see everything. They don't make decisions without being fully aware," the Uefa president claimed.
Allow this writer to correct you, Monsieur le President. In the last couple of days we have seen fewer goals in Poland and Ukraine because the fifth officials see and do absolutely nothing and fail to have any influence on refereeing decisions. In short, they are absolutely useless.
It is almost three years since they were introduced in the Europa League, and it is impossible to remember a single occasion when they actually helped the referee on crucial matters.
On Tuesday, John Terry cleared a Marko Devic shot after the ball crossed the line. It is difficult to blame the main official, Viktor Kassai, for not noticing it. After all, we needed a replay ourselves. The only person who should have seen it clearly is the fifth official, who was standing just yards away directly facing the goal-line.
What on Earth is he there for if not for these matters? Can anyone understand how he managed to miss such a clear goal? This is his only job.
At the time of this incident, Ukraine were trailing 1-0. This equaliser would have given the hosts a massive lift and almost 30 minutes to find another goal to take them into the knockout stage. Instead they went out with a whimper.
|"Five officials makes things easier. With five, officials see everything"
- Michel Platini
This is not the only case, of course. On Monday, just seconds before Jesus Navas scored for Spain, Croatia should have received a penalty kick when Sergio Busquets blatantly grabbed Vedran Corluka's shirt in the area.
This time, even the referee should have noticed the infringement, but the fifth official boasted the best angle. Quite bizarrely, he even exchanged smiles with a relieved Iker Casillas, who went behind the goal to get the ball and restart play. That was his only contribution to the game – chatting with Iker.
We might as well have Sara Carbonero standing there in his place; we would get the same results!
Monsieur Platini, the fifth official is a complete joke. Either make changes to ensure they are not blind, or abolish this useless experiment altogether.