Mark Gleeson

Refs keeping PSL race close

2010-02-08 08:40
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

If Mamelodi Sundowns are to win the league title there are a couple of refereeing decisions that will have helped them along the way.

A red card on Sunday against Ajax Cape Town left Sundowns up against 10 men for three-quarters of the game at the Athlone Stadium and, in the end, contributed handily to a 1-0 win, that has them now just three points behind leaders SuperSport United, and with a game in hand.

But the dismissal of Clayton Daniels was nothing near as beneficial the breaks the Brazilians earned last Wednesday in their home game against Bloemfontein Celtic.

Television replays showed an offside decision against Celtic in the last 20 minutes and, more particularly, a shot that crossed the line as it hit off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing back out again into play, should have been awarded.

Instead both were ruled out and Sundowns, who were flat and uninspiring on the night, got a point that might make all the difference come the end of the Premier Soccer League campaign on March 6.

It again highlights the debate over the use of camera technology and the need for football to move into modern era.

It is a debate gaining momentum all over the world as contentious decisions continue to cloud the game and more and more people question how much longer the sport can remain credible unless it eliminates the endless human errors.

Football’s universal appeal is it simplicity, the fact a ball, two goals and a bit of space suffices to make up a game. FIFA are desperate to keep it that way, to avoid it the game becoming the made- for-television behemoth that so many other sports have become.

Cricket and rugby were also developed on similar foundations, and yet have taken the plunge away from their humble roots. It is laughable to think it has caused any damage to their grassroots ethos.

At the top level, video evidence has added an extra dimension to the enjoyment, entertainment and intrigue. Most importantly it has given it a new credibility.

FIFA’s other major concern is that consulting video technology will slow down the game, at a time when they are endlessly tinkering with ways to try and further speed up the game.

Admittedly it often takes an indeterminable age in rugby for disputed tries to be ruled on and there is the odd cricket run-out or catching appeal that umpires seem to dither over forever. But to be honest it is no turn off. In fact, the suspense is now integral to the game, keeping spectators glued to their seats in the stands or sofas at home.

FIFA were experimenting with a devise in the ball that would signal whether it crossed the goalless or not but that seems to have fizzled out. It sounded pretty naff anyway.

The opportunity to go with the times must be ahead for football, as much as Sepp Blatter and his lieutenants stall. FIFA have gone from a position of “no way” to “we’ll think about” in just a mater of months, thanks to Thierry Henry’s handball, the international outcry and the millions that were decided France’s way by simple inaction.

But what an opportunity they have missed with the upcoming World Cup to introduce some form of technology to, at least, temper the refereeing errors we are anticipating.

The phrase “human error” goes not sit with the new generation. If the game is to survive at its current zenith, it must embrace what the future is all about ... and that is technology.

Sundowns might be happy, right now, with blind linesmen but surely the majority of us believe its time to turn on the video.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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