Lack of video technology is keeping the game in the stone age
By David Moore-Crouch.
England’s World Cup came to an abrupt end yesterday, after their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Germany. Although the score line reads as a mauling, it overshadows a great injustice that potentially could have seen a very different result. The injustice in question was a shocking referee decision that saw a Frank Lampard goal, which was clearly over the line, being disallowed. The decision not only leaves a sour taste in the mouths of England fans, but once again raises the question of why video technology has not yet been introduced to our great game.
The incident occurred less than a minute after Matthew Upson had brought England back into the match with a nice header. Lampard volleyed a shot past Manuel Neuer than then came off the top post and bounced into the goal. Neuer, however, grabbed the ball and played on. Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda then allowed the play to continue. Almost instant replays showed that the ball had cleared the line and that England had been denied a goal.
In the second game of the day, between Mexico and Argentina, Mexico were also left feeling aggrieved at a poor refereeing decision when a Carlos Tevez goal was allowed even though he was in an offside position. The replay showed that Tevez was indeed offside and that the goal should have been disallowed. The linesman was then set upon by the whole Mexican side who had witnessed the replay up on the big screen moments after the goal had been scored.
Both these incidents represent an unexplainable deficiency in the World game and that is the lack of video technology which would see poor decisions, like the two yesterday, being stamped out of the game. FIFA’s refusal to adopt video technology is perplexing and out of sync with other sports. Rugby League, Rugby Union, American Football, Cricket and even Tennis have adopted some form of video technology assistance. The introduction of video technology has often been met with resistance. The purists at Wimbledon, for example, cried out in disgust at the thought of Hawkeye being used in their great game. However, they were quickly won over by the success of the technology. In most instances, video technology has been hailed as a great addition to sport. Despite all its successes, Football has remained steadfast in their reluctance to adopt it.
Back in March, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) once again rejected proposals to introduce goal-line technology to help referees with disputed goals. The decision was met with hostility particularly from within the UK. Both the English and the Scottish Football associations voted in favour of developing technology. Even Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger weighed into the debate describing the IFAB’s decision as “beyond comprehension.”
FIFA’s counted the criticism by highlighting the fact that football is about the humans involved, the players and the referees and although mistakes are made, it is all part of the game. This is true to an extent, however, football has evolved exponentially and is now a billion dollar industry in which a poor decision can have greater repercussions than just a potential loss on the field. In some cases, millions of pounds ride on team’s fortunes. A prime example of this, was Ireland’s failure to make the World Cup ‘at the hand’ of Thierry Henry. Ireland’s failure cost them at least £4.5 million, which is what they would have received from FIFA for participating in the World Cup. At most, it could potentially cost them £18.7 million if they had managed to go on and win the competition. With this amount of money on the line, teams cannot afford poor decisions.
FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, has also argued that technology takes away an element of the referee’s power. In no way does technology diminish the role of the referee. If anything it serves as a safeguard as it protects them from player’s backlash, as was seen from the Mexicans yesterday; from the wrath of the fans as well as personal embarrassment. I strongly believe that referees would be instilled with confidence knowing that they can call upon the assistance of video technology to aid them with controversial decisions. The worried face of the linesman, who was accosted by the whole Mexican team, should be proof enough that referees need the protection that video technology offers.
FIFA can no longer bury their heads in the sand over this issue. The great game is continually being marred by poor decisions that could easily be rectified through the introduction of video technology. Until FIFA decide in favour of technology, Football will remain inadequately behind the times. They need to follow the leads of other sports and move Football into the 21st century. The football world is crying out for it. Only time will tell if FIFA decide to listen.
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