Replay, Mr. Blatter?

By | June 27, 2010

I know that I’ve been harping on this for a while, but when is FIFA going to realize that goal-line technology is essential to soccer? To be honest, the introduction of technology into the game should not be limited to goal-line technology. FIFA should also allow fourth officials to use video analysis in order to aid the referees, and keep them from making game-changing decisions that only hinder the contest.

This year’s world cup has already been marred by a number of no-goal decisions, two of them victimizing the United States. However, no decision – or no-decision – will prove more controversial than the one that basically sealed England’s fate in South Africa. Frank Lampard’s shot was clearly a goal, and an impressive one at that, and the referee’s failure to recognize it as such completely changed the dynamic of the game. Had the goal counted, England and Germany would have ended the half tied, and while the latter was clearly the superior team, psychologically, the English would have felt like they were in it. As it stood, England had to chase the game, exposing the team at the back – something that Die Mannschaft’s counterattacking prowess took full advantage of.

Apart from disallowing or allowing goals, overzealous referees are also tarnishing the game by pulling their card trigger a little too soon, or for no reason at all. I’m not simply referring to red cards, but yellows as well, as their accumulation leads to a one game suspension. All one has to do is review a few of the games played so far to see at least one case where a player has been hard-done by stringent refereeing. Switzerland’s world cup dreams all but ended when Behrami received a straight red for a seemingly innocuous, and unintentional elbow to a Chilean player. Gourkuff received the same punishment for the same offense, when France was already doing a good enough job of destroying its world cup hopes.

As this world cup marches ahead, there’s no doubt that bad calls will continue to be made, which is completely understandable as referees and lines-men are only human. Still, it is FIFA’s responsibility to overturn bad calls when bad calls are made. And for those of you, who believe that technology will only belittle referees, think of Koman Coulibaly’s fate after he disallowed America’s game-winning goal against Slovenia. So, replay, Mr. Blatter?