In this recent World Cup, we have already seen some bad calls from referees. The controversy over the calls can be enormous, especially when goals are taken back because of a bad call by one ref. The worst thing about it is that FIFA has announced that they don’t mind the bad calls at all. In fact, they say that “human error” is part of what makes soccer so beautiful.
Can We Get an Instant Replay?
From an American perspective, this can sounds pretty ridiculous. Most American sports tend to have instant replays in place where a call can be challenged and looked over using modern technology. This technology exists for soccer as well, but part of the style of the game is that calls cannot be overturned even when video shows just how bad the call really was. Is this the right way for soccer to be? How can we really declare a winner when we all see that one team was robbed a goal, for example, that they clearly deserved.
Beauty of Human Error
Many people have compared soccer to life itself and I think FIFA would approve of this way of looking at things. The lesson is “life isn’t always fair.” It seems cruel to put that sort of reasoning into a game, which is supposed to operate under rules, but the general rule of soccer is “play on.” When bad calls are made, it is extremely controversial and FIFA enjoys the controversy. Just like in life, in soccer there is no stopping when mistakes are made. Instead, everyone must keep going and try to make the best of what we have.
FIFA Referee Obligations
Another frustrating fact for bad calls in that under the FIFA code referees are not required to give a reason for a call in any game. In other words, if a ref blows his whistle and there seems to be no reason to do so, that referee has absolutely no obligation to explain to the world exactly why he blew his whistle. It can be a mystery for all time. FIFA delights in this concept of rule keeping, but a part of me cannot help but wonder if this is simply an excellent way for referees to be bought out, as sometimes happens in American sports.
A Game of Tradition
When it comes right down to it, soccer is a game of tradition and the rules cannot be easily changed. It is traditional for the rules to be decided by a single main person on the pitch. It doesn’t matter if he couldn’t properly see what was going on or wasn’t sure about something–his decision is final. In this style of play, soccer is a unique game full of the ups and downs that one associated with human error. There is a certain beauty in it, but at the same time there is a loss of the sense of right and wrong. Perhaps soccer really isn’t about justice so much as it is about striving for victory.
Source: personal opinion and FIFA World Cup coverage on ESPN