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FIFA need technology U-turn

2010-06-28 11:20
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

The English hyped themselves up so much over the last two years, but they looked like rabbits in the headlights at the Soccer World Cup once the reality of playing in top competition set in and are, as a result, heading home.

VIDEO: Frank Lampard's disallowed goal

Italy, the reigning world champions, are patently at the end of a generation as well and it can be argued the Azzurri were among the worst teams in the 2010 tournament.

The folly of France was extraordinary with one of the world’s most famous teams behaving as if they were a South African national First Division side, refusing to practice and sulking their way through three extraordinarily bad performances.

Three of the supposed World Cup contenders are already dispatched home and with the matches coming quick and fast, only eight will be left after Tuesday night. How long we waited for the tournament and how quickly it has passed!

Much of the analysis this week, however, will be drowned out by the cacophony of outrage over the call which potentially cost England the match against Germany in Bloemfontein on Sunday afternoon.

Had Frank Lampard’s strike been correctly given as a goal, the score would've been 2-2 just before half-time and we might well have seen a scoreline other than the 4-1 drubbing handed to Fabio Capello’s side.

It is hard to feel sorry for the English, but you have to admit the issue of technology in football must be debated properly now by FIFA.

They have flirted with introducing electronic methods to cut out contentious goalline decisions, but never made any concrete moves.

There was an experiment with a chip in the ball which could signal if it crossed the line or not, plus also placing cameras in strategic positions in the goal posts to assist referees in making the correct calls.

But FIFA have hesitated and are again in a situation where the credibility of a World Cup is in question.

FIFA’s party line is that they want to protect the universality of the game and its mass appeal. At stake, they insist, is the beauty of the simplicity of the sport, the fact football can be played anywhere, anytime, by anyone as long as they have a ball. You need no other equipment. The rest can all be improvised, like the posts and the field markings.

But in marked contrast to this simplicity is the real value of the world game, the billions which now ride on refereeing decisions. So much is at stake at the top level that FIFA must accept that at the highest level technology has to be introduced.

An errant linesman’s decision in the Argentina v Mexico match at Soccer City on Sunday night also impacted on the outcome of that match.

VIDEO: Carlos Tevez's offside goal

World Cups need to have the technology to ensure the correct decisions are made. So do competitions like the Champions League and the Premiership in England, where so much rides on the referees getting it right.

The tide of technology can no longer be held at the door.

Use of cameras in decision making in cricket and rugby has actually enhanced those sports, giving them increased credibility and adding to the spectator excitement.

In rugby we sit riveted on the edge of our seats waiting to see whether the ball has been dotted down or not and whether the referee is told to award the try or not. It has made the television viewing of the game more exciting.

Football will have the same benefit if FIFA take their heads out of the sand. For an organisation that spends so much money harassing blondes in orange dresses, you would expect they could put considerable resources behind developing the appropriate technology.

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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