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What is the purpose of FIFA’s ‘Third Man’?

Analysis

So Chelsea qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League after amassing nine points in their group to date. Meanwhile Arsenal, despite accumulating 12 points, have to wait. Sounds like an entire FIFA farce to me, a bit like the goal line official.

In the Arsenal match against Marseilles, The Gunners had a penalty for a foul that was outside the box, and were not given a penalty for a foul that was inside the box. For the penalty that should have been a free kick, the Marseilles goalkeeper was so far off his line he had time to share pleasantries with Wojciech Szczesny.

While all of these incidents were happening, the FIFA-employed third official standing on the goal line did absolutely nothing.

Actually, saying that he did absolutely nothing is perhaps slightly unfair, as the fifa man did do a rather good impression of an inanimate object such as a tree or a goalpost or maybe Nick Clegg.

Since the extra assistants, whose role was approved by the International Football Association board in July 2012, have been employed, I have not witnessed one single solitary occasion when they have sought to change a decision made by the referee.

So the 64 million dollar question is, why is he standing there?

I believe that I now know the answer to be one of the following. Looking at the freeze frame of the aforementioned penalty where the “third man” is seen a massive five metres away from the goalkeeper, there is possible evidence that his view was obstructed by the goalpost.

That is, of course, if he was looking at the goalpost at the time and not the goalkeeper. In fairness, the goalpost did not move at all when the penalty was taken.

However, it might be, as the third official was completely motionless throughout the entire duration of the match, that he had been struck by a meteorite and had died even before Jack Wilshere’s opening goal after only 30 seconds.

The problem with this theory is that the chance of there being a second meteorite that caused the inactivity of the other third official at the opposite end of the pitch is quite slim. Otherwise, the only other explanation I can offer is that the goalline official has a meaningless and pointless job and is therefore a complete and utter waste of time and money. I prefer the second scenario.

In the 1949 classic Graham Greene film noir, the audience is invited to ponder the possible existence of a “third man”.

Tuesday night at The Emirates, viewers were given the same conundrum.

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