Monday, June 28, 2010

Some fairly logical and concise whining about why soccer needs video replay

I know, I know, it's not my usual style... after all I think part of what makes this blog so entertaining is my ability to just rant and be my own A.D.D.ed-out self. However, in order to try and stop the spread of the whiny European soccer fan stereotype, I'm going to write a short and to-the-point piece about why we need video replay in soccer.

Sports are played for fans. They're played as entertainment for crowds. There would be no Manchester United or Chelsea or Barcelona if not for the millions of people watching them. I think it's fair to say that most people watching every game are doing so on television, and not actually at the stadium - so pleasing the television audience should be FIFA's number one concern.

As we become more technologically advanced, and add more and more cameras to the field, television audiences are able to watch the game in ways that they never have before. We're also able to see the game better than the referees can - which leads to the question. What is the point of the referee? Is it for him to make calls for his own self serving purpose? Or is it to make calls in a game whose principal purpose is to entertain a TV audience? After all, if a ref blows a call and the TV audience is clearly able to notice the blown call, the overall entertainment value of the match is reduced (except when Cristiano Ronaldo is playing and the camera catches him blatantly diving - then it's funny).

Some people have argued that referees are not held to the high standard that they historically have been. I say this is complete BS and in fact, would argue the opposite - refs are actually graded and selected to officiate games based on tests done using video replays ("players" stage an offsides situation on a field while the ref attemps to make the right call, for example).

I think the obvious point here is that reffing needs to be able to keep up with the people watching the game... especially when it significantly affects the outcome of the game in arguably the most important sporting event on the planet. I can't remember a single match in the last few days that didn't have a terrible blown call:

USA - Slovenia: USA's go-ahead goal (after coming back from a 2-0 deficit) was disallowed on a foul call when clearly the Slovenian players were the ones at fault

USA - Algeria: USA's goal was again disallowed when there was clearly nothing wrong with it

Brazil - Ivory Coast: Kaka was sent off for.... nothing. A CIV player ran into him and then faked being elbowed in the face

Germany - England: Lampard's equalizing goal was not counted after the ball bounced past the line and back over into the hands of the German keeper - Germany's own coach admitted that it should have been a goal

Argentina - Mexico: Argentina's first goal was allowed after television replay showed Tevez clearly offsides

Although these bad calls only impacted the final outcome of one of the games (US - Slovenia), it's important to note that conceding an early goal can be a big mental blow to an underdog team such as Mexico or the United States. Even in the Germany - England game, I think it's fair to say that an English equalizer would have impacted the way that both teams continued to play for the rest of the match.

I honestly don't care if video replay ruins the "flow" of the game - when significant bad calls are made, television stations will typically interrupt the game to show a video replay ANYWAY. Also I think that implementing video replay will make players think twice before they fake an injury or handle the ball. Like nuclear missiles during the Cold War, video replay doesn't actually have to be used in order to be useful - its presence on the sidelines alone will prevent a lot of the things that we need it for (although Cristiano Ronaldo may subsequently lose his job). As for offsides and other line calls, tennis (even at conservative Wimbeldon where there is a strict dress code, mind you) has been using technology for YEARS to assist the linesmen in making correct calls.

So in conclusion, FIFA needs to get off its high horse and start meeting the demand of the people who allow it to exist as an entity - the fans watching at home on television.

This wasn't as short as I wanted it to be, but I think it's fairly lean. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this (you can leave comments or e-mail me).

 Mo out.

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