Will the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa open the door for some on the field changes in the world of football (soccer)? While several complaints are being logged by viewers and teams in the wake of several disallowed goals and some crazy diving and flopping by players, the smart money is on FIFA not getting to carried away with instituting any changes. While cameras on the goals or instant replay technology are widely used in other professional sports leagues across the globe, FIFA continues to resist these high tech changes. From the perspective of many supporters and clubs (England), the officiating in the 2010 World Cup has been dreadful.
While the officiating has not exactly been “top notch”, fortunately none of the on-field decisions have amounted to being game deciders. Aside from England not being level with Germany at 2, which may have resulted in a different English approach to the second half, the majority of calls have been opinion calls and not outright errors. Officiating is part of the game and both teams must make do with whatever the official on the pitch is calling, there really is not another choice. Skulking about and screaming will not exactly get an equalizer in the back of the net. However, FIFA seems to be a bit on the foolish side for not embracing the technology that is available. Perhaps another referee on the playing field would solve some problems as well.
Any American or National Football League fan can attest that instant replay definitely destroys the pace of the game and is a surefire momentum killer, and soccer is a sport that thrives on the pace of the game. But, getting the call right and making sure the game is played according to the rules is what embracing the technology is all about. Ask Ireland how they feel about instant replay, and now England and their supporters have a legitimate complaint as well (though the England side looked horrible on Sunday). Sure, human error is a part of sports, but FIFA needs to address these problems before they start deciding crucial matches. Even make the replay only relevant or be able to be used in certain situations. While no club, nation, or supporter, wants to be on the opposite side of replay awarding a penalty, if it is the right call, it is the right call.
Should FIFA embrace instant replay and goal line technology? The answer is overwhelmingly “Yes.” Not because people are tired of bad calls, as they would still happen, but because fans and clubs and players deserve the right calls. The technology is available, and the camera angles are likely already in place. The time has arrived for FIFA to acknowledge that taking advantage of these technologies would only help enforce a fair and competitive atmosphere for both teams.
op/ed piece personal opinion