Happy Birthday Sepp, now it’s time to join the real world!

11 March 2013 Comments 8

Why is there so much debate about the use of technology to assist referees and umpires in sport? This is the 21st century and sport at the top level is now a multi-billion dollar industry, so why wouldn’t you use every conceivable opportunity to ensure that the prize money, the trophy and the sponsorships that follow are going to the right teams or players?

FIFA President Sepp Blatter was 77 yesterday (Sunday, March 10th) and I’m so glad that he’s now a convert, but how long has it taken him and his gang of presidential sycophants to join the real world? FIFA recently announced that goal-line technology (GLT) will be used at the World Cup in Brazil next year. Blatter actually said that FIFA would have looked “foolish” had it failed to introduce goal-line technology and he is of course, right. But for someone who says the World Cup tournament he sanctioned for Qatar in 2022 might have to be-re-scheduled because he and his mates have just noticed it’s likely to be a bit hot in the middle of an Arabian summer, I’d suggest it’s too late to worry about his image.

Football’s history is littered with controversies that could have been cleared up with the help of a TV replay and I can’t believe it’s taking so long for Sepp to catch on.

Two of the most famous incidents involve England both suffering and benefitting in equal measure from human errors that could have been averted. At the World Cup in 2010, a shot from Frank Lampard against Germany was clearly shown to have hit the bar and bounced well over the goal line before spinning back into play. The ‘goal’ wasn’t awarded and play carried on. England lost. During the tournament, Sepp Blatter said in a speech that referees should remain the ultimate decision maker.

Two years later at the European Championships, England’s John Terry hooked a ball off the line against Ukraine when TV replays clearly showed it was actually well over. Despite the newly installed presence of an ADDITIONAL referee to judge nothing more than goal-line clearances, Ukraine were denied. Blatter’s immediate response was that goal line technology was a necessity!

So why is it taking so long for some head-in-the-sand organisations to embrace a practice that would instantly eliminate so many issues? They’ve been using technology to determine balls in or out in tennis majors since 1980 where it commenced at Wimbledon. They used Hawkeye at cricket’s inaugural World Twenty/20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007, although India’s cricket Board, the BCCI continues to fight the rest of the cricketing world by refusing to adopt the Decision Review System (DRS). They say it’s unreliable but they’re the only ones who do.

If football really DOES want to embrace the new world, why doesn’t it immediately extend it’s new found toy into other areas of the game too? Tennis and cricket decisions are pretty much one-dimensional. In tennis it’s either in or out, in cricket, you’re either out or in. But the physical nature of football brings many other elements into play and implementing GLT without taking advantage in other areas of the game is simply not enough in this day and age.

At the top level, there are so many cameras at a game that offside decisions, tackles and off-the-ball incidents should all be displayed to a video referee who could immediately inform the ref on the pitch for the benefit of the teams involved and for the preservation of peace and harmony in the stands. In the English Premier League today, we have the farcical situation of big screens in the stadium showing the game that the crowd is actually watching, but when a potentially controversial incident is replayed, they have to switch them off! If technology was applied and the facts revealed to all, surely there would be less animosity against officials and opposing players? As it stands, a referee’s decision is dissected by the TV companies from numerous angles in their post-match analysis and week in, week out, the game suffers because one of the 32 cameras at the ground proves the ref got it wrong. Why don’t they let the cameras help the poor bloke????

Whether it’s the traditionalists who cannot bear to see the advancements of the 21st century infiltrating their traditional game, or the sports politicians refusing to accede to the thought of giving TV companies even more importance, they should all grow up and consider their sport. Sepp Blatter is finally being dragged into the 21st century but people who know him better than me suggest he’s kicking and screaming all the way.

Sport across the world remains littered with error-strewn officiating while the power brokers pontificate and procrastinate before they administrate. TV pays millions to broadcast sport across the globe and it’s time full use was made of the technical riches available, before another glaring error hands a trophy and its prize money to the wrong recipient. Former England rugby captain Will Carling opined about the ‘old farts’ ruining the game of rugby. I cannot help but think that we have exactly the same situation in Football. Too many old men who don’t understand how today’s technology can augment the game.

Have you seen a match or competition ruined by a poor decision that could have been reversed by the use of a replay? Please share with us your examples in the comments section. Some free SKINS kit for the best ones. If you want to avail yourself of the offer, make sure you leave your email address so we can contact you!

8 comments on "Happy Birthday Sepp, now it’s time to join the real world!"

  1. Wilko602 on 11 March 2013

    I sat behind the goals during the 2002 Collingwood v Brisbane grand final. It was the goal that wasn’t that probably ended Collingwood’s hopes of winning the game. Anthony Rocca’s shot from 50 sailed through the big sticks from where I sat, and to this day us Pies fans will say it went through. In the end, with no video replay we were left to watch Brisbane celebrate.

  2. Skippy on 11 March 2013

    The Scottish Footy League said they cannot afford this ” New Technology ” , then yesterday there was HUGE evidence of a goal touching ground behind the line then spinning out !
    Wonder how they survive these controversies ?

    Bury their head in the sand ?

    Good to see the UCI , finally do something right !

    Awarding placing at the 3km point before the finish line , will save a lot of skin and broken bikes , if not injury !
    Can’t have been a traditionalist that made that decision ?

  3. Imac on 11 March 2013

    1999 NRL Grand Final. The technology back up the touchie who got the call right in the first place. As soon as Ainscough hit Smith Col White had it in one. Harrigan doubted the call but went on to prove technology can be used to support good decision making. I hate St George and Melbourne but who cares, great call by Col.
    These guys should realise the support this gives the decision makers.

  4. The Fly on 11 March 2013

    Technology in sport is here to stay. With the arrival of the smartphone we are seeing technology, normally reserved for the elite now filtering down to the weekend warrior or amateur sportsperson. Keep your eyes open for the “Quantified Self” Tsunami. It’s coming over the hill at us…

  5. Brett Proctor on 12 March 2013

    The world of sport is continuously changing and in my opinion the use of technology is just one of those areas that has made an impact on many sports in the modern day. One criticism of the use of technology is that it can slow down the speed of the game, but on the other hand for many people it makes watching it more enjoyable to see the correct decisions being made. Every sport from Basketball to Cricket, Rugby to Tennis and many more sports has now got technology that when used to its full advantage makes sure that the rightful team or player wins. With sport now being played professionally and quite often with extremely large amounts of corporate sponsorship money involved for winning teams/countries and players alike getting the right results is crucial !!! I personally love how technology has shaped many of the sports we watch today and i cant wait to see what new technologies the future holds !!!

  6. Heather on 12 March 2013

    At a personal level, technology has been amazing in taking me from being an occasional jogger to an avid runner, including a couple of marathons. The technology to map my run, monitor my speed and heart rate really allow me to push myself to get the best from my performance. It also means I know when I’m tired, and not just looking for an excuse. I thinknit also makes it accessible to people who aren’t part of a running club, or don’t have a coach but still want to improve.

  7. Jeff Barnes on 12 March 2013

    As a Mansfield Town supporter we were ‘somewhat disappointed’ that Suarez virtually threw the ball into our goal for Liverpool in a recent cup game with them. Even the Liverpool fans didn’t celebrate the goal. TV clearly showed the offence and the referee who was probably unsighted needed some help to make the decision.

  8. Ronan S on 13 March 2013

    Good article and as a fan of several different kinds of sports I fully agree with the application of technology to sport to remove any grey areas or doubs when it comes to critical decisions. However we must remember it is up to the officials to interpret correctly and to the letter of the law the footage that is presented to them. I’ll refer to a 2007 six nations game between France and Scotland in which France scored a contrevertial last minute try to take the championship from Ireland. It was the last game of the tournament and in the last few seconds the French number 8 Elvis Vermeleun charged at the try line and disappeard under a pile of Scottish defenders and came up claiming a try. On replay it could not be seen from any angle if the ball had been grounded or not (commentators saying the same thing) however the try was still awarded much to mine and most people’s surprise. And the worst thing…..the TMO that day was Irish!
    So while the application of technology to sport will greatly help officials in their decision making we should remember it is still ulitmately up to them to make the correct decisions.