Monday, November 23, 2009

FIFA and Video Replay... NOT

In the wake of the France-Ireland handball incident, FIFA officials are holding an emergency meeting to discuss a corruption scandal that has led to numerous arrests, the violence surrounding the Algeria-Egypt match-up last week, and... (drum roll)... NOT video replay. (See's article about the meeting.)

Instead, they will be discussing the possibility of adding extra officials behind each goal. Now that's progress...

The growing disconnect between the philosophy of FIFA executives and the sport they are charged to govern remains a mystery. While equipment, training, and technology have progressed, FIFA officials have opted to plant their heads firmly in the sand of a nostalgic soccer past that is more fictional than real.

FIFA officials maintain that by keeping video replay out of soccer they are preserving the integrity and respecting the history of the game. But the game has changed many times. Ironically, the first rule change in the sport (made to differentiate football from rugby) was to disallow touching the ball with the hands or arms. But more recent rule changes have altered the offside rule, increased the number of officials, and introduced penalties for simulation. In addition, technological advances have changed the way spectators experience the game. In other words, change is as much a part of the game as complaining about the referee.

Purists additionally maintain that the introduction of video replay would break up the flow of the game. Such a contention borders on the ridiculous since injuries, fouls, and goals already regularly interrupt the game. A video replay after each goal could be carried out by a replay official before the scoring team finishes their lengthy celebrations and returns to the center of the field. And a replay official could confirm or refute both fouls called within the penalty area and red cards in far less time than it currently takes the referee to deal with arguing players.

What's worse, instead of simply consulting a video screen (or a replay official), the referee will consult with the sideline official and now one positioned behind the goal and waste time discussing what they saw without the help of slow motion or multiple angles. This conference process may actually be slower and more disruptive than straight video replay.

But instead of acknowledging anachronistic deficiencies in their system, FIFA will likely once again remain several steps behind the game. At least this way there is no chance they will be offside...


Anonymous said...

You're right. I remember some official FIFA match where the referee made a big mistake. The whole stadium saw what actually happened on the big screens. They started booing. The players were arguing with the referee and pointing at the screens, where everything could be seen crystal clear.

Then they shut down the screens. The FIFA official present at thee match asked the organizers to do so, in order not to "mislead" the referee.

If you ask me, this is absolutely ridiculous. We should have sensors in the fucking ball, all over it. Motion sensors on the field, frickin' lasers around the field, photo-finishes like they have in athletics, 3D cameras, motion capture, everything. They can do that at the World Cup with no problem.

The technology is there, it's relatively cheap and there's absolutely no reason not to implement it.

Anonymous said...

Not only should there be sensors in the fucking ball and cameras everywhere recording every minutia of the game, I think they should stop the clock. I hate when a team has the lead and is awarded a free kick or a throw in and they take their sweet time sorting out who is going to take it... meanwhile precious time is ticking away... I hate it. Make the game 60 Minutes instead of 90, but stop the clock for everything... injuries, throw-ins, free kicks, substitutions, after goals... everything. That way 60 minutes of actual football is played. instead of "90" (of which 30 minutes is fucking around anyway!)