It is not right that we go to a [football] game as though it was the Stone Age and we cannot see replays, when someone sitting at home on the sofa with a cigar and a beer can see everything. — Gerard Houllier
The powers to be has decided with regard to the 2010 World Cup and video replays and/or referee technology – see report here.
Well, what can I say? As a referee, obviously I’m disappointed, but it was to be expected given the lack of time before World Cup 2010 kicks off on 11 June. The last thing FIFA, I suppose, wants to do is to have half-baked ideas not properly tested and/or criteria worked out before the Big Event. It is akin to a big oil tanker needing many kilometres to turn on the wide open shipping lanes. The ships helmsman has started to spin the steering wheel. Or has he?
There seems to be a gradual shift in FIFA’s thinking: Previously the question of any video technology to assist referees was answered with an emphatic no. Not that FIFA indicated that video technology will be on the agenda as a referee aid, as FIFA seems at moment to entertain the possibility of video technology, if only as one of the likely methods to assist referees. Blatter had this to say at the media brief after FIFA’s extraordinary meeting on 2 December 2009 in Cape Town, where FIFA discussed inter alia Thierry Henry’s “blatant unfair play”:
“We have decided to set up a committee to look in to all this [additional referees and/or video technology] – not just by the referees’ committee but also the football committee, the medical committee, technical committee to get deeply into this matter.”
FIFA has shown the mindset and intention to elevate the issue of introducing referee aids to diminish blatant unfair play by players and unsighted infringements to the highest echelons of their structure. I have the prediction that FIFA will introduce the following referees aids in the near future – hopefully before World Cup 2014 – and probably in the following order:
- Extra/additional referees;
- Goal line video technology;
- Very limited video replay referrals with a set criteria when it can be invoked.
For the moment though, we have not yet moved out of the “stone age”. The bigger the swell and general discontent to change the referee status quo, the bigger the impetus is for FIFA to actually do something about it. Let’s then keep on making waves …