The 1966 FIFA World Cup quarter-final. England and Argentina had just played one of the most bitter matches of all time. Ken Aston, a distinguished referee on FIFA’s referee committee, was left with a headache. In that match, the German referee had cautioned English player Jack Charlton. But reports said he had also booked Jack’s brother Bobby, who had come over to complain. The German referee spoke very little English and by the end, everyone was confused.
As Aston drove home after the match, he began thinking about this unnecessary mess. As he waited at a traffic signal, inspiration struck him and an elegant solution took shape in his mind.
“Yellow for ‘take it easy’, Red for ‘stop it now’”.
The idea of using coloured cards was visual, simple, unambiguous. By the time the 1970 World Cup came along, the yellow and red cards had made their way to every referee’s pocket. How did the game ever exist without it?
It’s 2018. The Video Assistant Referee system at the 2018 FIFA World Cup had a huge impact on the tournament. While some prefer the certainties of the old, it looks like VAR is here to stay.
Change is meant to take us out to brave new worlds. Led by the growth-minded among us, who like Ken Aston, will solve for fouls and spot connections. And take a hammer to the status quo.