Why FIFA Should Accept Some Form of Instant Replay for Football Matches

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Why FIFA Should Accept Some Form of Instant Replay for Football Matches
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Frank Lampard's controversial non-goal against Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup

In the 39th minute of round of 16 match between Germany and England in the 2010 World Cup, England’s Frank Lampard took a shot that could forever change football. 

Lampard’s shot hit the crossbar, ricocheting at least a full yard over the goal line before it bounced into the gracious hands of German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

At the time, the score of the match was 2-1 in favor of Germany, but if Lampard’s goal counted, the score would have drawn level at two going into halftime. Instead, the score remained 2-1 and Germany went on to win the match 4-1. 

In the following World Cup match, Argentina faced Mexico and another controversial goal line play resulted. 

This time it was Argentina’s Carlos Tevez, whose goal counted despite being at least two yards offside. 

To make matters worse, the television screen inside of Soccer City Stadium showed a replay of the goal, causing both sides to get into a confrontation at the end of the first half. 

In the following days, people throughout the world complained about the goals, and FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that football would once again look at goal line technology. 

Despite our technological world, FIFA continues to refuse to implement technology into football. After the actions of the referees during two round of 16 matches on June 27, 2010 in the FIFA World Cup, football is still not committed to use technology to clarify close calls on the goal line. 

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Italian Referee Roberto Rosetti tries to quiet down the protesting by Mexican players following Carlos Tevez's controversial goal

FIFA should accept goal line technology as an essential part of the game. After seeing England and Mexico each suffer from a blown call, FIFA must implement technology into football.

Before goal line technology was even possible, football had several instances over which a close goal line call played a major part in a game. 

However, since the beginning of the 21st century, the amount of close goal line calls has dramatically increased. 

The most infamous of these calls came in a 2009 World Cup qualifying playoff between France and Ireland. 

During extra time, France’s Thierry Henry handled the football with his left arm twice before passing the ball for the winning goal for France to reach the 2010 World Cup.

Anyhow, there have been many different ideas to make goal line technology as effective as possible without impacting the speed of the game. 

The two most notable examples of this are the Cairos chip inside of the football and Hawkeye.  However, goal line technology has its opponents, with the most notable opposition being FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini. 

Platini has decided to attack these controversial goal line calls by putting in extra referees in Europa League and Champions League matches. Platini believes that implementing goal line technology will lead to “PlayStation football”; so extra referees will ensure that the human element in football remains.

Despite having extra referees, there are still problems that football could face.

This starts with added pressure that could be placed on referees due to goal line technology.

According to two-time World Cup referee Graham Poll, a giant television monitor at the stadium showing replays “could incite crowd trouble”.  If the referee is unable to change a call due to video evidence shown on the monitor, both fans and players could get upset. 

This happened two separate times in the 2010 World Cup.  The first time was a group stage match between Brazil and the Ivory Coast; where Brazil’s Luis Fabiano scored after handling the ball twice before scoring in Brazil’s eventual 3-1 win. 

The second time was on Carlos Tevez’s goal against Mexico in the round of 16. However, in the case of the Tevez goal, both Argentina and Mexico’s benches got into a heated argument before half time.

From this missed call, the entire game was overshadowed, along with the entire tournament (Bradley).

However, the reason of a television monitor showing a missed call would be muted should replay get introduced, especially at the World Cup.

By giving the fourth official (the official who deals with substitutions and added time) an added power to check close plays on the goal line, there would be no rioting over a missed call. 

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FIFA could also decide to take more pressure off of referees by giving them extra training.  The extra training would target specifically with the daily stress of the job. 

By doing this, there would be a much better brand of football that would be played, but there are many more reasons why goal line technology should be implemented into football.

The first reason deals with missed calls inside of the penalty box. 

Along with Henry’s handball against Ireland, there have been several controversial calls involving the penalty area. 

A notable incident came in a Champions League qualifying match between Tottenham and BSC Young Boys in 2010 when Tottenham’s Jermaine Defoe scored after handling the ball with his arm. During this match, there were extra officials used and were still unable to prevent a controversial goal. 

Another major problem that football faces from is diving inside of the penalty box, which players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba have turned into an art form. 

Due an increasing amount of players diving, a system of instant replay could prove to be a very popular idea. 

And of course, time could be saved instead of having players complain about close goal line plays (Wilson).

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter listening to questions about replay at a press conference

If the referee is more open in their interpretation, football can certainly see innovation, but that wasn’t apparent during the World Cup.

Throughout the 2010 World Cup, we saw some terrible refereeing, which was only magnified from the terrible refereeing on June 27. 

Following what happened to England and Mexico in their respective World Cup matches, a large portion of football fans and journalists wanted goal line technology to be implemented. 

Points such that President Blatter was able to watch the replay from his VIP box, a luxury that was denied to match officials (Kelso).

Due to this, FIFA was forced to apologize the next day through Blatter, who subsequently reopened the goal line debate within FIFA during their next conference in late July (Reuters). 

After the events in South Africa, many people wanted to know what could be done to help fix what happened. FIFA decided that the best way to start fixing the problem was to not show replays of goals on the television monitor’s inside of the stadiums. 

Thankfully, there were no other major instances in which a controversial goal line call was made. 

But, the 2010 World Cup did allow people to think about the technology that was used in other sports, and how it could be used in football.

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Hawkeye in use at Wimbledon

In practically every sport except football, there is some form of instant replay that is in use.

In both tennis and cricket, they use the Hawkeye system that has been immensely popular.  In both sports, a player will have a certain amount of challenges (a certain amount of plays that could be questioned) and can appeal to the referee to have the call overturned. 

In American sports, the National Football League (NFL) gives coaches two challenges per game to overturn calls.  Despite the success that the NFL has had with challenges, it can take up to five minutes to review a play, which would take too long for international football.

Also, there is the National Hockey League (NHL), which goes to a war room to review goals.  However, the time to review goals would take too long to keep football's speed up. 

In all of these sports, replay has been extremely effective, but there will need to be modifications in these forms of replay to implement them into football.

Currently in football, there are two extremely popular ways that replay could be implemented that will not affect the speed of the game.

The first way is to put in the previously mentioned Hawkeye system.  Hawkeye would work in football by having six cameras placed around each goal, taking 500 images per second. 

Where the cameras will be located should Hawkeye get introduced into football. Image courtesy of the BBC

Those pictures would be processed by a computer to the head referee’s earpiece within 0.5 seconds. 

In order to finance Hawkeye, Hawkeye’s inventor Paul Hawkins has suggested for each club to find a sponsor for Hawkeye, which Rolex does for Hawkeye’s replay in tennis (Emery). 

The other popular way is the Cairos Ball Chip System. The Cairos Ball Chip is a computer chip that is put inside of a football that would correlate with thin cables that are transplanted underneath the goal line.  Through magnetic transmission, the referee will immediately figure out if the ball crossed the line through a radio signal from a nearby tower.  

The Cairos technology was first used at the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup, where there were no reported problems with the new technology.

But for whatever reason, FIFA has not allowed the Cairos ball to be reintroduced at any tournament since 2007. 

Overall, the football made very little difference in terms of weight, with the device weighing approximately 15 grams, while the Jabulani ball that was used at the 2010 World Cup weighed between 420 and 445 grams. 

But, FIFA has still remained reluctant to accepting the new technology, and everyone wonders when it will finally be implemented into football.

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
The Adidas Cairos Football at the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup

Despite what has happened in its past, now is the time for FIFA to implement some sort of goal line technology into its game.  

It is absolutely incredible that the most popular sport in the world can reject moving into a modern era with the advent of technology. 

After reviewing over everything, I think that technology can be instituted if it is inserted properly. 

To me, I feel that reviewing penalty box decisions should not be instituted because it forms too much of an opinion from a referee coming from an unbiased source in video. 

Instead, FIFA should allow for both the Hawkeye and Cairos systems to be used. 

I feel that Hawkeye should be implemented into every league around the world thanks in large part to the major sponsorships that football has. By allowing the sponsors to pump money into video replay, we can have Hawkeye used throughout the world. 

And the Cairos ball can be used only in major tournaments such as the World Cup and the European Championships due to the expenses of the ball and the cables that will be required to run around the goal line. 

But by having a check of balances on these two technologies, the referee will be able to successfully make the right call whenever there is a goal line dispute. 

Hopefully, FIFA will recognize that the problems from not installing goal line technology can only further damage their game and decide that goal line technology is the only viable answer. 

If not, football will continue to suffer from an unnecessary problem that could be resolved in a matter of seconds.

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