Will the 2010 FIFA World Cup signal the start of instant replay in International soccer? The question has appropriately come up after several botched calls led to controversial outcomes during the course of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The United States controversial outcome in Group play served as one example where Instant Replay could have been used. The incident took place in a match against Slovenia. Referee Coman Koulibaly made a very controversial call that cost the Americans a goal in the late stages of a dramatic comeback. Koulibaly disallowed a goal by Maurice Edu that would have given the United States a 3-2 win. Television replays showed evidence of no foul or offsides during the play. As it happened, the United States barely managed to escape from the group play thanks to the 2-2 tie with Slovenia. You can read more about that incident here in an interesting article in Bloomberg.
That was one of many controversial calls that have marred the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Some analysts and coaches have suggested that television instant replay could have helped solve the problem in a matter of moments. Other critics say that instant replay would hinder the continuous nature of the game of soccer. In other words, it would slow down the pace of the game.
Other questions would need to be addressed. Would the actual game clock be stopped or would more time be added to the end of regulation? By adding instant replay, some soccer enthusiasts believe a Pandora’s Box will be opened in terms of game play. It would allow players to rest while the Instant Replay is addressed. The scope of the entire game could be sacrificed by slowing it down. There is probably some school of thought that International Soccer would be “Americanized” by the use of Instant Replay. That’s because Instant Replay is used for NBA and NFL games. The Instant Replay has allowed refs to make the correct calls but at what cost? Fans and players what and the momentum of the game is sacrificed.
Instant Replay would allow the referees to get the correct call. But is there any way to do that in soccer without entirely changing the pace of the game? Perhaps play could still move on while judges in booths decipher what happened on the Instant Replay. That doesn’t seem likely considering the tactics in soccer change depending on whether a team is leading or losing. Either way, instant replay doesn’t seem to fit in the world of soccer. The 2010 FIFA World Cup has certainly made the issue seem debatable. Is it likely to happen?
It would be interesting to sit with some of the great soccer minds to hear the pros and cons of such possible rule changes. Soccer is one of the traditional sports that has been relatively untouched in terms of bringing it up to speed in this era. A great deal of soccer players and fans like it that way, too.
Will the momentum from the 2010 FIFA World Cup push International soccer play in that direction? Only time will tell. If I were a betting man, I would say the soccer minds toss any notion of instant replay aside because of what it would do to change such a traditional game.
Christopher Elser, FIFA May Drop Referee Who Ruled Out U.S. Goal Against Slovenia, Bloomberg