Archive for soccer

Bring Technology to Football

Posted in Football, sports, technology, World Cup with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by kemgooner

So far this World Cup has filled with me with plenty of joy, just one instance was watching my home country the United States make it out of their group in dramatic fashion before being knocked out by Ghana, but it has also left me questioning this sport I love so much.  It seems like the real highlights and memories of this tournament are going to be questionable to incorrect refereeing decisions, and that is a shame because while there have been some dull matches, overall this tournament has seen many displays of great football.

I understand that officiating errors have always been part of the game, and I have experienced both sides of calls that have changed and influenced matches.  In the past, there was nothing that could be done about this, but now we have technology that can put another set of eyes on the field and give refs the ability to replay key moments.  Personally, I do not understand why any  fan of the game would not want this, the best games are always the ones with little controversy, where the footballers are the ones who do they talking with the way they play.  If something can be done to help keep the ability to win matches at the feet of the players than steps should be taken to make that so.

One criticism of technology is that it would slow down matches.  However, I would offer yesterdays match between Mexico and Argentina as an example that matches can be stopped by players surrounding officials and berating them for what they felt was a wrong decision as well.  The time it took to get everyone back to their positions was longer than a quick replay would have been.  All that is needed is an extra referee in a booth with a television, it takes about 10 seconds for the replay to be seen on tv, and usually that makes it perfectly clear whether a call was correct or not.  ESPN even has a clever little line that they can pull up to measure where the defender and the attacker are.  If it is not perfectly clear whether the decision should be changed, then all that needs to be done is say the call is too tight and carry on with the match. And if the decision is made to change the call the extra official in the booth only has to send down his decision through the communication that is already used between officials.  This would make decisions such as the one that cost Mexico against Argentina a thing of the past, and all the whining and what ifs that go along with clearly wrong decisions could be left out of the picture.

Another criticism that technology faces is that there would have to be regulation on when it can be used, otherwise everything will end up being looked at.  Goal line technology would obviously be used in situations like its name describes, when a decision needs to be made about whether the whole football has crossed the goal line and a goal should be awarded.  Apparently, this technology already exists in a fashion that it could almost immediately be brought into the game, and if so it really should be.  Having a clear goal ruled out, or having a non-goal ruled as a goal has got to be one of the most infuriating things that can happen in football. Players are left screaming at the officials and fans are left screaming at their tv or computer, “How could you NOT see that!” If a team has done everything right, scored a good goal, and only has it ruled out because a referee and his linesman just simply can not see everything, it is unfair to the team and player affected. The only way to rectify this problem is to implement something that will  take the decision out of the hands of a referee who is only human, and into a technology that can quickly and easily be referenced.

While the players and team that are on the wrong side of a decision are obviously the clear losers of the situation, the referee is as well.  Usually when a controversial decision is made players on both teams will surround a referee or linesman and yell and argue with them. The referee is basically helpless in this situation, left only with the ability to say “that is what I thought I saw” and questioning whether they were right.  They understand fully just what implications their decisions can have, yet they have no way of knowing until they themselves see a replay whether it was the right decision.  Referees have a hard enough job as it is, using technology to make it easier should be an easy decision to make.

Apart from use in goal line decisions and offside/onside calls where a clear verdict can be made, I would say there is no other need to use replay in football.  Red/yellow cards and other disciplinary action is already looked at again after matches, and referees are able to say that if they would have seen something in real time they would have done something different.  Sepp Blatter and others say that the controversy surrounding refereeing decisions is what makes the talking points in football, but I know I would rather be talking about  the magnificent performance of a young German team than a goal that was clearly over the line and should have counted which could have hypothetically “changed everything”. Players, coaches, referees, and fans all want to see technology brought into football, and in the end, the only controversy is why the FIFA officials won’t institute it.