Video Technology Must Improve Football

The season is over so its time to reflect. While winning the Copa del Rey was nice, the overwelming memory for me this season will be the Champions league disaster against Chelsea. Its now transfer rumour time but I try to not to take them too seriously as most never actually happen.

This off-season there are two minor sporting touraments (Euro 2012 and the London Olympics) to hopefully keep people entertained. I am looking forward to both. The off-season also gives me a chance to share some non-Barcelona ideas with you. Here is the first.

I read with interest that the international friendly match on June 2nd between England and  Belgium will be used for a live test test of goal line technology. It won’t be used to actually determine the result but it will hopefully lead to the use of goal-line technology soon being permitted by FIFA. I also hope that it is just the first step in technology being used in football to ensure far more correct refereeing decisions than we currently have.

Whilst I am a keen watcher of football, I also watch many other sports. Most of them use video technology which has greatly reduced the number of incorrect refereeing decisionsin each sport. Cricket, rugby, rugby league, gridiron, tennis, baseball and field hockey are some of the major sports which have benefited from embracing video technology to help referees get more decisions correct. That is surely what every fan of every sport wants.

Based on what happens in other sports, there are two ways that video technology could be used in football. The first way is for the referees themselves is initiate the use of the video to help them make a call when they are not sure. The second is that the players to have the right to challenge a decision and call for a revue by video of a decision they think is wrong. Naturally, there needs to be a limit on the number of possible challenges that are permitted to prevent them being used trivially. I personally favour a combination of the two where both are possible as happens in cricket.

An argument that is often raised against using video technology in football is that football has far less stoppages than these other sports.  As a result, the flow of the game would be affected if revue by video technology was introduced. There is an element of truth in this argument. However, all this means is that careful thought is needed in how and when video technology is to be used not whether it should be used. It is the most vital, game affecting decisions that need to be revued and there are often natural stoppages at these moments.

The most ridiculous argument raised by the dinosaurs at FIFA against video technology is that it could not be implemented at all levels of the game. They are effectively saying because it can’t be used in an amateur park league it should not be used at the World Cup. I think the level of interest and repercussions of an incorrect decision in different circumstances are vastly different. For example, at the last World Cup Frank Lampard having a clear goal against Germany incorreytly disallowed and an offside goal Carlos Tevez wrongly being allowed against Mexico effectively ended the dreams of two entire countries.

I would like to think that all referees are honest and do their jobs to the best of their ability. I also think that sometimes a referee can be intimidated to subconciously favour a team because he does not want to be criticised for getting a decision against that team wrong. I can think of at least one coach who seems to have that effect thereby ensuring that his team often gets the close calls. You might ask “¿Porque?”  I would say such a thing. 

If there was some kind of video review of such decisions, there is far more chance that the correct decision will be made. This would mean we would no longer be subjected to campaigns such as those over the last few years by both Barcelona and Madrid alligned medias accusing La Liga referees of favouring the other team. There is far less scope for controversy and complaint if the decision is correct. Video technology also eliminates the small chance of a referee being involved in some for of match fixing.

In summary, I hope that goal line technology is soon introduced and that it is a prelude to a more comprehensive introduction of video technology.

It is time that FIFA realised that when we left the 20th Century we moved to the 21st.

Posted by: Drago. Columnist at  ‘Cule Talk’