A Different Game

Thoughts on sports, technology, and marketing from CaptainU

Is FIFA serious about Fair Play?

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by Avi

Commentator Julie Foudy might have struggled subtracting 76 from 90 minutes — she said there were 24 minutes left — but she said it best: “At the end of the game, you want to walk off the field knowing that the players decided the result of the game, not the referees.”

Honestly, how many times is this going to happen before FIFA starts using technology to prevent its biggest showcases from devolving into a complete joke?

This go around, it was Hope Solo’s amazing penalty kick save against Brazil that was erroneously called back because the referee mistakenly said Solo moved before the kick was taken. To be honest, it wasn’t even clear that it should have been a penalty kick in the first place. In the last men’s World Cup, it was Frank Lampard’s obvious goal against Germany that crossed the line — which was seen by millions of viewers at home — but not by the referees. Of course, there were also dozens of blown offside calls. The list of injustices goes on and on.

The sad thing is that the powers that be insist that “this is part of soccer,” and that it upholds the purity and integrity of the game. It’s not clear to me how scenes like this reflect integrity.

Instead, as millions of television viewers watch replays that tell the true tale and shout at their TVs, the fact that referees can’t be informed by the same evidence makes the game look pathetic.

You can’t blame the refs. They have an impossible challenge. They have to cover a huge amount of ground and make split-second decisions on complicated plays that happen at an incredible pace. So let’s explore the possibility of how today’s USA-Brazil penalty kick pandemonium might have played out had instant replays been allowed.

  1. The referee thinks Rachel Buehler fouled Marta in the box. She signals for a penalty. Play stops. Enter technology: the fourth official on the sideline looks into a monitor and determines whether it was in fact a penalty. Time elapsed: 15 seconds. For the sake of argument, say she determines that it was a foul. At least everyone can rest more easily with the decision.
  2. Christiane steps up and takes the penalty kick. Hope Solo saves it and it goes out of bounds. Play stops. The ref thinks Solo might have moved early and, through her headset, asks the fourth official to review it. Time elapsed: 15 seconds. The fourth official determines that Solo didn’t move early.

The game goes on. Justice has been done. 30 seconds of time elapsed — time during which play was stopped anyhow. Did that really ruin the purity and integrity of the game?

FIFA is all about Fair Play, but their unwillingness to use technology to actually make the game fair undermines that ideal and the game itself.

Then again, maybe Sepp Blatter has a crystal ball and knew that the injustice against the USA would lead to this:

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Written by Avi

Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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