With last weekend’s Premier League fixtures littered with incident and controversial refereeing decisions, Sepp Blatter conceded this week that FIFA are at last prepared to introduce goal-line technology with approval from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) likely in March 2012. That could mean goal-line technology could be implemented as early as for the start of the 2012/2013 season.
Speaking to Germany’s Bild newspaper, the FIFA president said:
“You must allow at least one of those aids, and that is goal-line technology. There are systems that combine accuracy, speed and are straightforward. We are ready to use this technique.”
FIFA’s sudden turnaround on goal-line technology has proved something of a shock considering that they have been opposed to the introduction of modern technology for so long. It would appear however that certain high-profile incidents, most notably Frank Lampard’s effort against Germany at the 2010 World Cup that bounced back into the goalkeeper’s hands from behind the goal-line, have cause FIFA so much embarrassment they can no longer ignore it.
“FIFA cannot accept again what happened in South Africa, a ball that was 70 centimetres in goal was called out”, Blatter told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.
If approved and successful, goal-line technology will be used at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, for which Blatter also announced that only professional referees will be used.
LAST WEEKEND’S PREMIER LEAGUE CONTROVERSY
So with goal-line technology seemingly imminent, the calls for video-technology to aid referees in making other game changing decisions such as red cards, offside/onside goals and penalty decisions goes on, and last weekend’s fixtures proved that Premier League referees could surely do with the help.
Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off saw Chelsea’s unpredictable defender David Luiz clearly pull Newcastle danger man Demba Ba to the ground. TV replays showed Luiz should have been sent-off for the challenge and had referee Mike Dean had the luxury of video technology he would have had no option but to show the Brazilian a red card. Instead Luiz stayed on the pitch and Chelsea went on to win the game 3-0 – a result that almost certainly would have been different had Chelsea had to play for 86 minutes with just 10 men.
In the 3 o’clock kick-offs, QPR’s Shaun Wright-Phillips had a legitimate goal ruled out for offside in their 1-1 draw with West Brom while at White Hart Lane, the ever controversial Stuart Attwell lived up to his already poor reputation by sending off Bolton defender Gary Cahill after just 17 minutes for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, despite Scott Parker being 50 yards from goal with Zat Knight tracking back to cover.
The FA have since confirmed that Cahill’s red card has been overturned and he will now be available for Bolton’s next game, which is all well and good but they could have done with him on the pitch for the remaining 73 minutes in North London as they went on to concede two more goals, going down 3-0.
Of course referees make mistakes, they are only human after all and it’s not as if they set out to deliberately ruin games with their poor decision making, but they do make mistakes, sometimes even getting the most simplest and obvious decisions wrong.
Some people are of the opinion that ‘what goes around, comes around’ and ‘things even themselves out over the course of a season’, others even believe that referees are entitled to make mistakes, as are managers who get their tactics wrong, strikers who miss glaring sitters, defenders who score ridiculous own goals and goalkeepers who drop the ball into their own nets.
I have to disagree with that view because football is a game of variables and that is what makes it the game it is. No two games are ever the same and if players and managers didn’t make mistakes and performed to the top of their abilities in every game then football would be very boring, the best teams would win everything and there would be very little hope for the underdog.
Players can mistakes for any number of reasons, an injury, a lack of form or confidence perhaps, but that can’t be the case with the job of a referee. A referee needs to show the same consistency game after game and ensure that every game is always played fairly and, pardon the pun, on a level playing field.
If people can accept that referees make mistakes and it makes for a good talking point down the pub, then fine, but they can’t, and they would also need to accept that referees will continue to be subjected to abuse and criticism from supporters, players and managers every time they make a mistake.
NO RESPECT WITHOUT VIDEO TECHNOLOGY
All of the incidents that I have mentioned from last weekend have one thing in common and that is that TV replays were used to retrospectively prove the officials in question made the wrong decisions and to condemn them for doing so.
Is it really that unreasonable to ask that video technology be used in real-time to aid officials and ensure the correct decision is made? With a bit of planning, would it be the end of the world if it took a few extra seconds to make sure the correct decision was made? Would that be such a bad thing? Would the game be worse of because of it?
Perhaps now is the time for us to accept that the reason why players, managers and supporters lash out and abuse and criticise officials is because the very basic of decisions are being made incorrectly.
What we need to do is push the game forward, after all there was a time before goal nets, floodlights, shin pads and the offside rule. All of these things have not only improved the game, but are tools that have since become part of the everyday football furniture and most of them were probably opposed prior to their introduction too.
Like those things before them, goal-line and video technology can also improve the game but just as importantly they can also help to improve RESPECT too and I’m pretty sure that once goal-line and, if it ever happens, video technology, are introduced, we will ask ourselves why we waited so long, and before we know it they will have become just another part of the game, a regular occurrence like the back pass rule.
UEFA, FIFA and particularly the English FA have put a lot of hard work into their RESPECT campaigns to try and improve behaviour both on and off the pitch, especially behaviour aimed at officials, and to generally make the game a better place for everybody.
Regrettably, I feel that without the help of these modern technologies, the RESPECT campaign will never quite achieve what it was set out to do and will never fulfil its potential.
Follow me, Danny Gipson, on Twitter @DannyGipson
Tags: Barclays Premier League, fifa, gary cahill, Goal-line Technology, IFAB, Mike Dean, Premier League, Referees, RESPECT, sepp blatter, Stuart Attwell, The FA, uefa, video technology