Sending off and on again

Chapecoense have taken an early lead against Palmeiras. The visitors look rattled and the hosts push for a second goal. Palmeiras left-back Egídio is caught out of position and winger Willian Bárbio is put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Bárbio hesitates, Egídio recovers, goes to ground and steals the ball. Bárbio is left writhing in pain on the edge of the box. Referee Jaílson Freitas blows his whistle. Free-kick. Red card.

Palmeiras players are furious, while television pictures show viewers at home that Egídio did in fact win the ball cleanly and there was no foul. Another replay shows the assistant referee, the closest official to the incident, opting not to raise his flag. It would appear that the decision to send off Egídio came from Freitas himself, who was lagging behind the play, still inside the centre circle.

Four minutes of debate ensue on the pitch. Palmeiras players appeal to the referee while Chapecoense prepare to take their free-kick. Suddenly, Freitas gets a word in his earpiece and goes to speak to his assistant. The fourth official joins them. “He got the ball? Only the ball?” the referee is seen asking the fourth official. After receiving confirmation, Freitas overturns his decision. Goal-kick to Palmeiras.

Palmeiras applaud the referee and prepare to return to the game. Goalkeeper Fernando Prass picks up the ball.

“Where’s Egídio?”

“He’s away down the tunnel.”

“Christ, somebody get him back out here!”

The left-back, already at the door of the away changing room, is summoned back on to the pitch. He trots back out to a chorus of boos from the home fans and the match continues.

Judging by the circumstances, it was clear that the referee’s decision was overturned after receiving outside information. He had already consulted with his assistant referee, who did not raise his flag for a foul. It was only after speaking to the fourth official that the red card was rescinded.

As the official was in an even worse position than Mr. Freitas, the only logical conclusion is that television replays were used. This, of course, is illegal, regardless of whether Egídio won the ball or not.

Due to a number of terrible refereeing decisions in this year’s Brazilian championship, the CBF is desperate to gain approval to introduce video technology. Besides the goal-line camera used at the World Cup, the Brazilian FA also proposed using video evidence to verify any goal, penalty or offside decision, as well as instances of violent conduct.

With no precedent for this type of technology anywhere else in the sport, Fifa rejected the CBF’s proposal. On tonight’s evidence, Brazilian referees are ignoring advice from above and using replays regardless.

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