As the World Cup continues into the knockout phases over in South Africa, one of the growing storylines is pitting the tradition of the game against on-field accuracy.
This issue of whether or not FIFA should institute video reviews burst to the forefront on Sunday morning after two fairly blatant game changing incidents in Round of 16 matches. In the first, England was denied the equalizer when Frank Lampard floated a shot in that hit the crossbar, hit the ground about a foot over the line, hit the crossbar again and then bounced out. The officials missed the call and Germany went on to win 4-1.
Later that day in Johannesburg Carlos Tevez was a mile offside when he opened the scoring for Argentina in a 3-1 win over Mexico – a play that should have been a pretty routine call for the linesman.
In the second incident, an angry mob of Mexican players surrounded Italian referee Roberto Rossetti after replays of the goal were shown on the giant screens inside the stadiums.
ESPN reports that FIFA will now censor what is being shown on the big screens to make sure that…umm…blown calls aren’t immediately highlighted and players/fans will have to wait until they get home to realize the extent to which they had been robbed, I suppose.
Really FIFA, that’s your response?! At least president Sepp Blatter apologized to the English and Mexican football federations, but that almost makes the loss harder to bare.
In the aftermath of these two unfortunate incidents, there are a lot of people calling for video review to become a part of the game, but is it time to take that route?
One of the arguments against video review that you’ll likely hear is that it’ll slow the game down too much. That’s possible, but there are already a lot of things that bring things to a crawl like diving, post-goal celebrations, arguing with the ref and other time wasting tactics.
It seems to only take broadcasters mere seconds to bring up a replay of something that just happened – what makes people think this would become a long process?
Another issue would be what plays can be reviewed in the first place – goal vs. no goal is an obvious one, but judging an offside might be tricky.
If goals can be called back because a review shows a player was offside, what about players who were clearly onside? What about major dives? I’m sure there would be some people that would want video review to be used to help weed out some of the worst ‘simulators’ in the game.
One way around these last couple of issues would be a football style challenge flag or something – if a coach thinks a player took a huge dive, handled the ball in the box or was offside, he could throw his challenge flag and initiate a review. The catch would be, you only get one (or one per half, or whatever).
These are just ideas, of course, but it might be worth taking a closer look. The MLS has offered to help out with experimental changes to the game. That might be a good idea!
If FIFA decides not to do anything, people will continue to complain when (the big) teams are burned by bad calls like these, especially if it happens in a big game.
Then again, if you don’t have the refs to blame, who have you got?
What do you think – should FIFA bring in video reviews?