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Selasa, 29 Jun 2010

Get with the tech


Get with the tech

SADLY, Fifa president Sepp Blatter's obdurate opposition to technological aids for refereeing decisions in football brand him as hidebound. Reverence for the way things were in the sport shouldn't extend to fondly preserving the human frailties undermining the game. A single goal can change lives, nations and histories. When couch-bound spectators on the other side of the planet can see a ball cross a goal-line in slow motion within seconds of the event, their concurrent witness to the blindness of the ref and his assistants is truly damning of the "fair play" so prominent in the ethos of this year's World Cup in particular.

No argument holds much water against electronic monitoring. No technological breakthroughs are required -- not when spectators in those very stadiums can see exactly what everyone else in the world sees, replayed within seconds on those giant TV screens strangely invisible to officials on the pitch.

This doesn't call for the admittedly advanced technology of the "Hawk-Eye" systems now enhancing appreciation of cricket, snooker and tennis, with frame-by-frame triangulated ball-tracking through an elaborate array of computer-linked cameras. Blatter notes the absurdity of installing such systems on the scale of a football pitch -- but the objection is itself absurd. Cases such as Frank Lampard's possibly game-changing but unrecognised goal against Germany and Carlos Tevez' offside status in his goal for Argentina against Mexico last Sunday could have been resolved with the video technology already in place.

This is not about technology, therefore, but attitude. Short of surrounding the pitch with an unbroken cordon of referee's assistants, Fifa should set the ball rolling on video-replay verification of line calls. It will not "disrupt the flow of the game" -- certainly not as much as, say, the world-record 62 throw-ins in Paraguay's 1-1 draw with Italy in the group rounds or, for that matter, the histrionics of players feigning mortal injury in quest of sanctions against their rivals.

Notably, in all the hubbub over the Lampard's "ghost goal", hardly any mention is made of the blatant deception of Germany's goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, who slickly and slyly pretended the ball had not crossed his goal-line. Players may be -- indeed, are -- forgiven their gamesmanship. For the somewhat loftier sake of sportsmanship, therefore, why not let technology provide the clarity of view and impartiality of observation required to keep things square on that proverbially level playing field?


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