In a year when football in New Zealand seems to be progressing in leaps and bounds and going from strength to strength, how disappointing it is that at the top of the football tree, FIFA have once again stuck their heads in the sand and refused to budge on an issue which would take the game forward.
I refer of course to the decision last week of the IFAB to reject completely the use of goal line technology – or any technology in fact.
It’s an issue that the vast majority of football fans around the globe are in favour of, its an issue that the lesser sports have embraced with no harmful effects to their games and its an issue that won’t go away.
On the very day that IFAB rejected the issue, Birmingham City were knocked out of the FA cup having scored a “goal” which was not awarded. It was as if the gods were having a wee joke at FIFA’s expense.
There seems to be no clear reason for FIFA’s decision. In fact as each month goes by there seem to be more and more reasons why we should use some form of video technology. We already have a fourth official at most top league matches around the world. What do they actually do apart from hold a board up for time added on or for substitutions? Can they not monitor the game from a television? If the technology is there, why can’t it be used?
Common consensus is that FIFA think that the resulting stoppages in play will “disrupt the flow of the game”. How absurd is that really? We’d rather have injustice than a stop in play?!
Around the world we watched in horror as Thierry Henry cheated France to the world cup finals. Within seconds we all knew he had handled that ball, not once, but twice. It was blatant and it was deliberate. It seems that only the three blind mice officiating inside the stadium didn’t see it. Because it was a goal, play had stopped! Long before the ball was returned to the centre circle we knew that it should have been a free kick. The fourth official using a tv could have radioed the referee and said “it was a clear hand ball, award a free kick to Ireland.” So to use video technology here, wouldn’t have disrupted the flow of the game.
And of course, if we used the video to award any of the litany of goals not given in recent seasons then yes the flow of the game may well have been disrupted…but then play usually does stop when a goal is scored!
Football has changed immeasurably in this generation. More games are televised from more leagues to more homes. We have the benefit of a number of camera angles which in an instant tell us whether a refereeing decision is right or wrong. Why are FIFA happy to allow their referees to be criticised so regularly when the technology exists to assist them in avoiding that criticism?
We’ve already had one world cup decided by human error in allowing a goal that never went in. Lets hope that FIFA’s obstinacy doesn’t result in a similar situation this year.