FIFA’s reluctance to use video replay harms soccer’s credibility

The recent display of England being denied a clear goal against Germany in the 2010 FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) World Cup in South Africa reopened a recurrent debate prominent within the international soccer community – the need for video replay in matches.

The Association has long been famous for its attachment to maintaining the status quo despite numerous calls for the use of instant replay technology.

The game of professional soccer is now in dire need of maintaining its credibility through policy reform that allows for the use of video replay technology. This will foster more precise officiating in conjunction with referees on the field.

The largest issue with the current situation is that unacceptable blunders in officiating always take place in the game. This is simply the reality when the continuous pace of play, field size and the 22 players on the field are taken into consideration.

Although FIFA concedes that referees do make mistakes out of human error, they believe that the use of video replay technology would undermine the authority of the referee and remove the human aspect of the game championed by FIFA.

Soccer is unique in that every decision made by the referee is final. The use of video replay technology would change this in cases where it would be referred to in order to come to a decision.

Although the judgment of the head referee would no longer hold the ultimate authority over making calls, it would allow for more fairness in ensuring that the outcome of a match is determined based on performance rather than errors made by the official.

Much of why the game of soccer receives criticism from players and enthusiasts loyal to other sports is how frequently situations arise where a clear mistake in officiating is made.

Soccer is given a bad reputation from
common errors among officials such as
awarding penalties to those who
purposely feign injury, incorrect
offside calls or incorrectly deciding
whether the ball has fully passed the
goal line.

Video replay must be used in conjunction with officials on the field in order to make correct decisions on issues like these that may require more thorough examination through the use of technology.

There exist several infamous examples in the history of soccer where teams were able to achieve victory through an evident mistake made by officials. Arguably, the most controversial example of this is the “Hand of God” goal scored by Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona against England during the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, in which Maradona used his hand rather than his head to jump up and place the ball into the net.

Due to the angle from which the referee saw the incident, he was not able to see that the ball was handled and allowed the goal. Had video replay been used, the goal would clearly have not been allowed. Incidents like these significantly impact the dynamics of a match, as it is questionable whether or not Argentina might not have gone on to win the game and eventually the World Cup tournament had the goal not been allowed.

Countless other sports like football, hockey and baseball have come to rely on video replay in order to make key decisions correctly. It is time for FIFA to realize that the same is required for soccer so that the credibility of the game is expanded.

As in any sport, the result of a game should be reflective of performance rather than advantages or disadvantages dealt by misguided officiating.

While it is certain that this issue is present to some extent in every sport, it is certain that FIFA must do more to modernize the game of soccer in order to provide safeguards that allow for fair match results.