Who Is Walter Pless?


A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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If any more evidence is required to show that FIFA are destroying the beautiful game, it was provided in the weekend’s Serie A game in Italy between Inter Milan and S.P.A.L. 2013.

The use of a ‘video referee’ to help the real referee played a crucial role in this game.

It highlights the fact that the game is different depending on the level at which it is played.

Football was once regarded as an egalitarian sport and one in which the same rules applied in a game at Wembley as in a game on the village green.

That may be too idealistic an image, of course, and it is true that a World Cup game is a somewhat different to one played at Grove Road.  In principle, though, there should be no difference.

But, the introduction of goal judges, for example, has moved the game at the top level far beyond anything seen in Tasmania. Here, we sometimes struggle to get enough referees, let alone assistant referees and goal judges.

But, let me go back to this Italian Serie A game and the use of the video referee.

We were always told that such technology will not change the game for the worse and would, in fact, make it better. After all, we were told, it would only take seconds for the video referee to adjudicate on an incident and inform the referee out on the pitch. It would never get to the situation, say, as in cricket or Gridiron, where play can be held up for some time while decisions are made.

After all, we were told, part of football’s appeal is that it is virtually non-stop action, not like ALF, cricket or American Football, which comprise stops and starts.

Well, last night’s game in Milan demonstrated how stupid the introduction of video refereeing is and how the situation has the potential to become much worse.

I believe it has the potential to make referees lazy and it will encourage them to seek the easy way out by referring decisions to an official watching video coverage of the game.

The referee in the game between Inter Milan and S.P.A.L. 2013 was undecided about whether to award Inter a penalty or a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.

He called for video assistance. It took three minutes for him to award a penalty. So, out goes the argument that it will only take seconds, or at most, a minute to make decisions.

After asking for video assistance, the referee and players paced around while waiting for a decision that didn’t come.

In the end, the referee ran to the side-line and looked at a video monitor himself and then had further conversations with the video referee, who was actually in another city and watching in a studio.

Finally, after three long minutes, the referee ran to the penalty area and pointed to the spot.

Inter scored and went on to win 2-0.

I can envisage the situation getting even worse and the time taken to make a decision rising possibly to five minutes.

The introduction of such video technology has the potential to split the world game into the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', which would be sad. It would be the end of what has been an egalitarian sport.

I’d be interested in readers’ thoughts on this issue.


Let me now turn to the emphasis, indeed obsession, amongst some modern coaches on maintaining possession and passing.

This can be at the expense of actually scoring.

Another game I watched live on the weekend was the Bundesliga game between SC Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund.

Freiburg had a player sent off early on and the game became 10 versus 11.

It ended in a goalless draw. In fact, it became so boring because it was played virtually in just one half of the field and involved endless passing around that half but skirting the penalty area and rarely penetrating.

A game involving a team playing against 10 cones would have been more exciting.

I take nothing away from Freiburg. They 'parked the bus' and defended heroically and must have been delighted to collect a point.

But, I condemn Borussia Dortmund, the team that once played such exciting, attacking football under coach Jurgen Klopp, who is now at Liverpool.

I could not believe the statistics.

SC Freiburg 0-0 Borussia Dortmund.

Shots: 6 - 27

Passes: 182 - 870

Accurate Passes: 97 - 790

Inaccurate Passes: 85 - 80

Percentage accuracy of passing: 53% - 91%

Possession: 17% - 83%

Corners: 0 - 7

Give me direct, attacking football any day.

Perhaps that’s why I switched to a Scottish League game, with a thrill a minute and some goals rather than continuing to watch eleven players (ten, actually, as the goalkeeper had nothing to do and didn’t join in) against ten cones.

Again, I welcome readers’ views, including that I am too cynical and past it and that I have been left behind by the modern game.


-2 #25 Gerard Houllier 2017-09-14 06:31
Quoting Charlie Hughes:
#23 Gerard Houllier, perhaps no 'world powerhouse' as you say has, But what about Leicester City, Greece, Portugal and Iceland?

They were exceptions not the norm.

In the case of Portugal they have usually been a possession based team, which is usually the case if one looks at their domestic league.

At last year's Euro Champs they waited more patiently to launch counter attacks when Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't fully fit. They liked to have the ball though.

The other teams, Leicester, Iceland and Greece, are plodders. They have a limited quantity of quality technicians to dictate terms in games and play circulation football.
+2 #24 Charlie Hughes 2017-09-14 03:29
#23 Gerard Houllier, perhaps no 'world powerhouse' as you say has, But what about Leicester City, Greece, Portugal and Iceland?
-2 #23 Gerard Houllier 2017-09-13 13:23
Charles Hughes wasn't right, Walter.

No world powerhouse has played like he advocates and has had sustained recent success.
-4 #22 Pep Guardiola 2017-09-13 13:19
Hadn't realised you were so keen on hoofball, Walter.

I don't watch the SPFL much because it is technically so poor. It is like the old Southern Premier League, because teams were constantly battling to win the ball. The SPFL is a better version of the Southern League.

More teams are trying to maintain the ball for longer periods in the the Tassie NPL. It makes it more watchable.

What I liked about APIA is they passed the ball around, at the same progressing forwards.
+2 #21 Aficionado 2017-09-13 08:20
#7 Anon, I agree there's nothing wrong with the passing game, as long as it's not overdone. In the Freiburg v Dortmund game, it was overdone. Someone may as well have just sat on the ball because it would have achieved the same result. There was no penetration and just endless passing in an arc around the penalty area. The Bundesliga highlights program a day or so later devoted about 30 seconds to this game, which is a clear indication that it was so negative and boring. I've seen some wonderful and exciting 0-0 draws, but this certainly wasn't one of them.
+1 #20 Historian 2017-09-13 08:13
#19 Cliff. You're right about the money. That's what's driving this technology. There is so much money riding on the outcomes of games and tournaments that they can't leave it up to fallible human beings. That's a pity because it used to be a case of 'if, in the opinion of the referee'.
-3 #19 Cliff 2017-09-13 07:56
Agree with #18. Referee still has to make the call. Captains can exercise their right to challenge. Get it right we fix something. Get it wrong and lose your challenge. Too much money in every sport at the highest levels to ignore the technology, but still not a fan though.
+8 #18 Var 2017-09-12 10:43
Thankgod for var. Next steps give each team one referral to the var per half.

If the review finds the refs decision is correct they loose the referral if refs decision is overturned then they keep the referral.

They do it in hockey and it works well. Can't see why it won't in football.
-9 #17 EastShore 2017-09-12 09:11
Quoting Anon:
Rumours have it that Nick Naden is moving to olympia

Surely nanden wouldnt move to clarences fiercest rivals? could see him moving to zebs as ive heard he admires markaj?
+6 #16 Every year 2017-09-12 08:23
Shame zebras can't keep good players As Groenewood signs for hume city seems like groundhog season

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