Editorial: How many blown calls will it take?
After the pair of blatant missed calls in Sunday’s World Cup round of 16 games, the question must be raised: How many times will FIFA allow themselves to be embarrassed before they get themselves out of the stone age?
Both Frank Lampard’s non-goal in the England-Germany match and the goal that was clearly offside in the Argentina-Mexico game could have been very simply corrected through the use of video replay.
Every single other sport in the world uses video review to correct calls that the official may have gotten wrong, and it has improved the quality of every one. Home runs are no longer missed in baseball, pucks that cross the line are always called goals in hockey and players can contest line calls in tennis.
Yet, FIFA has decided to keep soccer years behind the times and simply ignore technology that could make the sport better.
The main argument that FIFA seems to have against bringing replay to soccer is that they want to avoid bringing lengthy delays and making matches longer. But the whole world could see that Lampard’s shot was, in fact, over the goal line within 30 seconds of the play happening.
Reviewing that goal would not be like reviewing a hockey goal, where the net is smaller, the puck is smaller and there are likely two or three players in the net. In the case of Lampard’s goal –and in the case of most goals that are missed in soccer— only one angle was needed to see that the ref had blown the call.
From a logistical standpoint, instituting instant replay in soccer would actually be easier than most sports.
Not only are all of the necessary angles already covered by TV cameras, but the refereeing staff even has a fourth official who doesn’t do much more than hold up an electronic board with how much time will be added at the end of a half. Couldn’t he take a quick look at a monitor, see the call was missed, and correct it?
Almost more infuriating than the fact that these blown calls continue to happen, is FIFA’s painstaking silence on the matter. From Thierry Henry’s blatant handball that knocked Ireland out of World Cup qualifying in November, through to the number of missed calls in this year’s tournament, FIFA has been embarrassed on a massive international stage, and they seem to have nothing to say about it.
While FIFA took a step in the right direction yesterday by admitting that they were wrong and apologizing to England and Mexico, they are still only willing to look into video review. Odds are that we will once again see a lot of talk and little action.
Blown calls that could easily be overturned have directly led to teams getting knocked out of the World Cup or not even being able to take part in the competition in the first place. At this point the question is, what needs to happen to make FIFA wake up?
Will it have to come down to the World Cup hampion being decided by a misse hand ball or an offside goal? Given FIFA’s resistance to change, it will still be a long time before we see video review in soccer.