CALLS for Fifa to adopt video technology in the game have again been renewed after a string of mistakes by referees in the World Cup in Africa—including two crucial calls in the quarterfinal round.
Fifa president for life Sepp Blatter has diplomatically said the option for a video replay, as well as goal line technology, will be reviewed.
But I don’t think that technology will ever be adopted. It’s not to say football is adverse to technology, heck, take a look at the refs, they’re using ear phones out there.
It’s just that adopting video replays is such a huge change to the game.
(And Blatter was just trying to please some sectors.)
One major change adopted by Fifa, the golden goal, went out of favor so fast they had to get rid of it after the 2002 World Cup.
Another of the major stumbling blocks for video technology is the expense involved.
Unlike in basketball, where each league, it seems, has its version of the rules; or in American football, where teams pause after every play, in football, there’s only one set of laws of the game.
And if you adopt video technology for the World Cup, you have to adopt it also for the qualifying matches for the World Cup, the Asian Cup, the Sea Games and what have you.
Adopting the challenge system also isn’t applicable since all referees calls are challenged all the time, anyway. Besides, the fact that the game can’t be stopped for any reason has led to its trademark—fair play—where the one team kicks the ball out of bound to end the play and have an injured player treated but gets the ball back in the next play.
But should Fifa leave things as they are?
One of the most promising ideas out there is not the goal line technology or the use of video replays, but the introduction of two additional referees—one for each penalty area.
Both don’t get a flag or a whistle and are essentially the extension of the fourth official on the pitch.
One of the main jobs of the fourth official, or table official, is to pay attention to the action away from the ball—players jostling or trying to hit each other when no one is looking—since the two linesmen (now called assistant referees) and the center ref are focused on the ball.
And when he sees something the three field officials didn’t see, he can call the center ref for the appropriate action.
The two additional referees are that and more.
Most of the non-calls on goals during the World Cup involved incidents inside the box, and an extra pair of eyes just behind the goal could have seen those incidents better.
DIFFERENT VIEWS. One curious aspect of the disputed calls is the different views take by American and British
press—the only two schools of journalism I have access through the Internet.
It seems the British press consider the mistakes as all part of the game and have focused on the team’s errors, while the American peers all treat it as controversies that should be corrected and have regularly compared Fifa’s lack of action to the changes adopted by the NFL, NHL and NBA.
This is one case where experience doesn’t make a good teacher—the British press’s experience with football, and the American press’s experience with the NHL, NFL and the NBA.
Which is the right approach?
I don’t know. But I do know this.
There will be some changes after this World Cup and you can bet Ronaldo’s well-maintained ‘do on that.