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World Cup credibility on the line

Posted by Admin on Jun 28th, 2010 and filed under Mondial 2010, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

by Nigel Reed| June 28, 2010| CBC.com|

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27: Referee Jorge Larrionda makes a decision during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Another day, another controversy. Or, in this case, two for the price of one which the 2010 World Cup and the watching world could have done without.

Like the goals England sloppily conceded to Germany, these mistakes were entirely preventable. Yet FIFA continues to score own goals by ignoring the issues. When will football‘s rulers wake up and accept their resistance to change is seriously damaging their product?

Luck, and luck alone, prevented a bigger black eye for the global showpiece. Neither Frank Lampard‘s ‘non’ goal, nor Carlos Tevez’ ‘offside’ goal ultimately made a difference to the fact that Germany and Argentina will meet in the quarter finals.

We are talking here about the very credibility of the game. FIFA’s declared and very visual policy of fair play amounts to a ceremonial flag which means nothing. If FIFA wants fair play to have any meaningful significance, it has a responsibility to ensure it delivers on its promise.

More than once I have voiced my support and respect for match officials. They do the best they can with the tools they are given. They are given a pair of eyes, a whistle and a flag. In 2010 they need more but their employers refuse to yield.

FIFA makes sure its World Cup looks fabulous. It spends enormous amounts of money ensuring the High Definition images it broadcasts around the world catches every moment of every game from every conceivable angle. In doing so it is also making its own referees look like chumps.

The solution is on its doorstep but FIFA won’t open the door. We all knew in an instant Lampard’s shot off the crossbar had fully crossed the line. The player knew it, as did his manager sitting in a dugout on the halfway line. The referee and his assistant were hung out to dry in no man’s land.

Tevez knew he was offside when Lionel Messi delivered the rebound. The Argentine striker did what he’s been taught to do and played to the whistle. The assistant needed help to try and make an accurate decision. It was available to the whole world except the man who required it most.

It is not fair on the players. It is not fair on the officials. It is not fair on the fans. One man has the power to change it but FIFA President Sepp Blatter refuses to pull his head out of the sand. By the time he does he may find events have overtaken him.

Blatter’s outright rejection of video technology will ultimately cost him his job. He will stand for re-election next year on an embarrassingly out of date ticket that the introduction of video replays will disrupt the natural flow of the game, and what is done for one must be done for all.

The fact is Blatter knows better. We all do. Exhaustive tests have concluded goal line technology can be reliably delivered in less than half a second. FIFA’s response, earlier this year, in the wake of Thierry Henry‘s ‘hand-goal’ was to suspend, indefinitely, any further research and development.

How far down the soccer pyramid does one take this technology? Here, Blatter has more of an argument but FIFA must surely acknowledge it cannot stage another World Cup without it. There are plenty of FIFA sanctioned tournaments over the next four years in which to iron out the kinks.

His would-be Presidential rivals should be cringing at what millions of fans have witnessed in South Africa. The dam is about to burst and they must act before they are swept away and drowned under the weight of public condemnation.

Forty four years after England’s Geoff Hurst hit the bar against the Germans, lightning has struck twice. In 2010 we no longer have to rely on a Russian linesman. We now have assistant referees, so for goodness sake, let’s assist them.

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