Hockey Ireland seek review of Video Referral System requirement


Dublin, 14 January 2020

In the second men’s Olympic Qualifier match against Canada in Vancouver in October 2019, Ireland lost on penalties following a Canadian equaliser in the final seconds of the game. The equalising goal came from a penalty stroke which was awarded after the use of a Canadian video referral. In the immediate aftermath, Hockey Ireland sought clarification from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on the set up of the Video Referral system for the qualification series.

In particular, Hockey Ireland sought clarification from the FIH in relation to minimum standards to ensure adequate broadcast quality as well as the availability of a minimum number of camera angles on the play action at all times to ensure delivery of a robust Video Referral system. To date, the FIH has been unable to provide adequate response to the queries raised. It is Hockey Ireland’s understanding that at present there are no such specific regulations/minimum standards in relation to the setup and delivery of the Video Referral system in hockey.

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. 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. Hockey Ireland regrettably must therefore conclude that they have exhausted all avenues in respect of a potential appeal regarding the outcome of the series and the non-qualification of the men’s team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Hockey Ireland feels that minimum standards for the use of Video Referral need to be introduced as a matter of urgency and will look to work with other national and continental federations and indeed, the FIH, to explore the issue. We believe the FIH should commission an independent review conducted by an external body with cross sport expertise in the delivery of Video Referral technology and procedures to ensure the development of minimum standards to guarantee the necessary quality and consistency for the effective use of Video Referral in hockey and mitigating against another federation experiencing a similar situation.

From the outset, Hockey Ireland has made it clear that it respects the decision of the Umpires and has never sought to challenge this. The organisation, its players and management have all times conducted themselves in a measured way in response to this issue. Hockey Ireland does not condone any negative reaction directed at the Umpires, nor can it be held in any way responsible for the reaction of the global public on social media platforms.

Hockey Ireland has conveyed to the FIH their disappointment at the way in which Video Referral was implemented for the Olympic Qualification Series, and specifically the way it was deployed at the Ireland v Canada men’s matches in Vancouver, Canada. We are particularly disappointed for the Irish men’s team who sacrificed so much in their efforts to achieve qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Hockey Ireland would like to thank the players for all of their efforts and, on behalf of all involved in Irish hockey, take the opportunity to wish the Canadian men’s team and all teams participating in next year’s Olympic Games all the best with their preparations and participation in Tokyo next summer.

Notes to editor

Video Referral is covered as part of the broadcast arrangements and is a contract between the FIH as the Rights owner and a broadcast partner.

The FIH introduced the system to the sport as a further aid to on field umpires to help limit or ideally eliminate incorrect on-field decisions. A very important aspect of this approach is the need to have the required number of appropriate cameras set up in a manner that affords the camera operators the best possible opportunity to provide meaningful additional lines of sight that may not have been available to the on-field umpires at the time of an incident.

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.