SWC technology: What lessons have been learnt?
Video Assistant Referee system (AP)
Cape Town - For the coaches in the PSL whose comments suggest they view many referees as little better than criminally inefficient - Benni McCarthy, Eric Tinkler and Gavin Hunt are a few who come to mind - the crazy capers of some of the match officials at the World Cup have gone a long way to prove the point.
More specifically, despite the largely successful, if belated introduction of technology to assist them, several of the referees in Russia have negated the advantage by stubbornly, or stupidly ignoring it, with the outcome that blatant and far-reaching errors have failed to be corrected.
Among those in question are two decisions that went against Brazil in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland after the Swiss equalising goal should have been disallowed because of an obvious previous infringement - and then when the referee failed to award the five-times champions a clear-cut penalty without checking on the available video replay.
Serbia were brazenly robbed by the referee when a penalty was not awarded following crunching infringements by two Swiss defenders in quick succession proving decisive in their ultimate defeat with Sweden suffering a similar fate against Germany when the referee involved again failed to call on technology.
Eliminating this refereeing deficiency, however, is available to FIFA by following in the mode which sports like tennis and cricket have formulated their procedures relating to the use of technology - namely by granting the participants the right to make a number of limited appeals to review the original ruling.
Also, the SAFA delegation headed by president Danny Jordaan in Russia at the World Cup was afforded the opportunity of viewing the introduction of technology at first-hand - and gauging if and when it can be introduced in South Africa.
One thing is for certain, despite the emergence of a number of hiccups, the belated introduction by soccer in following in the footsteps of tennis, cricket, rugby and other sports in using technology to assist match officials to avoid errors is here to stay.
And it should now presumably be viewed as a matter of some urgency that the initial procedures in making the use of technology in South African soccer will come under the microscope almost immediately.
The only obstacle standing in the way, it would seem, is the financial aspect, but if other less affluent sports have managed to overcome this hurdle for many years it should be well within the confines of South African soccer to do the same.
Meanwhile, the World Cup has provided evidence that FIFA still has some way to go in formulating a uniform method of taking soccer into the modern era while kicking and squealing over any minor shortcomings related to technology.
Referees, it would seem, can still cause consternation, even when given the available assistance of technology, although this, it can be assumed, was more in the line of a teething shortcoming.
And, if not SAFA, it might well be the PSL who will be better positioned to introduce technology into South African soccer - and make amends for a spate of mistakes and discrepancies by referees that have marred local fixtures.