Belfast Telegraph

World chiefs must act to restore credibility: Bell

Clear message: Jonny Bell wants action from the FIH
Clear message: Jonny Bell wants action from the FIH

By John Flack

Hockey Ireland have reluctantly conceded that there is no chance of overturning the outcome of the Olympic qualifying series with Canada in Vancouver last October, which was shrouded in controversy.

The video umpire - harshly in the opinion of many observers - awarded Canada a penalty stroke after a referral in the last second of the final game of Ireland's two-legged tie, with the hosts trailing by one goal on aggregate.

Canada converted from the spot and went on to deny Jonny Bell's Ireland team a place in Tokyo by winning the subsequent penalty shoot-out.

Lisnagarvey defender Bell said last night: "It's important the FIH act to restore the credibility of the sport and ensure this type of situation can never be allowed to happen again."

In a statement released last night, Hockey Ireland lamented the absence of clarification from hockey's world governing body (FIH) on the minimum standards for the number of camera angles available to the video umpire.

In Vancouver, the video official had just one angle made available - up to seven is the norm in major tournaments - before making his controversial decision.

Hockey Ireland have called for an independent review of the video referral system to be implemented.

"Hockey Ireland are of the view that the broadcast quality and number of camera angles available in respect of the qualification series were not of a level to facilitate video referral," said the Irish statement. "Hockey Ireland, however, as a result of the lack of regulations in respect of video referral have no grounds on which to challenge the FIH in relation to the incident.

"We regrettably must therefore conclude that we have exhausted all avenues in respect of a potential appeal regarding the outcome of the series."

The Irish governing body also made reference to the decision to appoint an umpire who was inexperienced in video referral, as the official concerned was undertaking the role for only the second time.

The Hockey Ireland statement added in a footnote: "It is also vitally important that any umpire assigned to video referral has appropriate skills and experience of working with the system and has had the specialist training and appropriate supports (e.g. Hawkeye and/or a TV producer) required to enable them to confidently and competently use the system correctly."

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