In the past few weeks we have seen goal-line saves being over-ruled, harsh tackles being made and players rolling on the floor, sadly not laughing, but clutching their faces for a tap on their ankles. All throughout bringing the beautiful game of football to state where it could be termed as a borderline turn-off.
As these developments take shape, demands for a change are increasing after each fall to the ground. A change which could not only help the game be played in a fair and no-nonsense manner and an attitudinal change which could see the prima-donnas of this sport learning a thing or two about discipline and the importance of credibility and inculcate the same in the way they play the sport.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a statement said that “Other sports regularly change the laws of the game to react to the new technology. We do not do it and this makes the fascination and popularity of football”.
Well Mr. Blatter would know a thing or two more than us about the fascination and the popularity related to the game, but to imagine the popularity of the sport itself veining due to a few additions, which would only enhance the game, is a pill hard to swallow.
Considering the stakes at which football is played out today, where one false decision can lead to a missed chance and may be a missed point which in these competitive times could mean being the best or one of the rest.
If we think of it in financial terms then one wrong decision could be a difference of millions of dollars and in a world where sponsors and revenue supersede all else, a system which discards the shortcomings of having just a referee on the field could be a way to move forward.
Consider the loss caused to Ireland, who were knocked out when the talismanic Frenchman Thiery Henry, known for his skills with his feet and head showed us he was no schmuck with his hands either and single-handedly (pun intended) resulted into a stoppage time goal for France and dashed all hopes of Ireland being in the biggest spectacle in the game of football.
Another case in point is Liverpool’s then striker Luiz Gracia’s Champions league goal against Chelsea back in 2005, Liverpool went on to lift the cup that season and earned millions, while Chelsea spent a few million more in search of that elusive silver trophy.
A more recent instance is of Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes, who let slip that prized victory over city rivals Chelsea and arguably cost Tottenham that Champions league berth. Well actually he did not but then, human error it seems does not hold court in the eyes of the ones who run the game. According to them error free refereeing is just not football, it does not matter if it isn’t fair.
Could we have avoided these errors? Well we could have, may be if we had something to help us out, we would have and quite frankly we should have.
Well football, traditionally known as a working man’s game, can hardly afford to bring in whole sale changes, however, simple things such as an introduction of systems which could assist the on-field referee make a decision, if not make the decision for him could be a possible point to think about.
It is not as if FIFA has not been open to new technology, well they have tested the CAIROS GLT system, which involves a microchip in the ball and sensors under the field of play to notify if the ball is inside the playing field or not. Another system which was proposed was the Hawk-eye system, which is currently being used in sports like Tennis and Cricket.
Both these systems are targeted to determine on-the-line goals, close penalty shouts or touchline decisions, these methods have come out of their testing with positive results, however have been rejected due reasons ranging from logistical issues to reasons that deem them likely to break the flow of the game.
If we deem these arguments worthy and admit they are true, then a remedy to this quandary could be to give more powers to the fourth referee, who could sit in front of a monitor with a mouthpiece and convey messages ‘live’ to the on-field referee. How time-consuming could it really be? Be it dives to the ground, penalty shouts, all the referee needs to do is, switch on mouthpiece and say clean or not clean. Does it still break the tempo?
An era which has seen iPods turn to iPhones and then iPads, when HD has found 3D for company and Cell phones are only sometimes used to make calls, technology, which is evolving faster than ever before, I feel, should be embraced and not discarded.
Some might feel it is a distraction, well let the old hags think so, what is important is the future of the game, and in an era of fast food and blue tooth and god knows what else in the future, we need to evolve and this beloved game of ours should as well, not just for the sake of it, but because it needs too.