A video ref would bring the World Cup out of the dark
The case for a video ref in soccer is so mind-numblingly, blatantly self-apparent, only a monolithic, dictatorial body like FIFA could stand in its way. So naturally enough, it is.
Maybe the vuvuzelas have left FIFA deaf to the calls for justice by video. Or maybe, the real villains here are hardcore soccer fans, who squeal “how dare you tinker with our perfect game!” at the merest hint of change.
These old school extremists are FIFA’s unwitting foot soldiers, twittering away on their iPhones about the shocking potential impact of technology on the game they love.
The irony is, technology already negatively impacts every World Cup. As evidence, look at the gratuitous changes to the ball every four years so manufacturers can sell a shedload of them to suckers.
This year’s dud ball, the Jabulani, was apparently developed in a factory that produces licorice allsorts, and has roughly the same aerodynamic properties as a flying rhombus. Talk about fixing something that ain’t broken.
A video ref would do exactly the opposite. It would harness technology to tackle the game’s biggest problem, which right now is referees so incompetent they make NSW Labor politicians look like sound custodians.
Where to start with the refereeing howlers? Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell both received reds for yellow-card offences. And the USA had a potential match-winning goal disallowed against Slovenia, with the ref inexplicably blowing his whistle for a foul.
But the Gold Vuvuzela for refereeing howlers surely must go to Stephane Lannoy, the official who dismissed Brazilian star Kaka. Here’s the incident in reverse, which I’m told is a tricky way of circumventing copyright laws.
None of this is to demonise the officials. They don’t have eyes in the back in their heads, and that’s exactly why they need help, as no lesser authority than John Aloisi argued in this piece yesterday.
The counter to Aloisi’s plea is the classic swings-and-roundabouts argument, which maintains that the good and bad calls will always even themselves out in the end.
Not at the World Cup, they don’t. Swings and roundabouts works fine for a competition like the English Premier League, where each team plays 38 matches and the laws of probability have time to even things out. But in a tournament where you can be out in the first two games, the theory just doesn’t hold up.
And even if the luck does even itself out, the current situation is still woefully inadequate. Imagine for a moment we’re talking about something more serious than a game of soccer. Imagine a red card is a death sentence. Now imagine we have a justice system with no court of appeal for those sentenced to the electric chair.
Would we say, oh well, it’s OK to sacrifice a few innocents because it makes up for all the murderers who get off the hook?
Or do you think, maybe, we’d seriously investigate a system where every offender is afforded a second look? It works for tennis. It works for cricket. It works for the majority of American sports. And it can work for soccer too.
Soccer doesn’t need a video ref for situations other than red cards, penalties and offsides. It doesn’t even need a video review system at every tournament or match. But it does need one at the World Cup, and it needs it desperately.
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