Thursday, November 4, 2010

How many more screw ups before replay is introduced?

As Pippo Inzaghi started his run, I screamed at Gattuso to get rid of the ball and play him through. Whether he didn't see his teammate or simply thought the ball would never reach the Pippo is anyone's guess. Regardless, when he finally released the ball, I got up to go to the bathroom as he had missed the opportunity and Inzaghi was visibly two yards offsides. Next thing I know, the commentator is screaming "Goooool" on my television screen - Milan had taken the lead.

If you watched the match, the error was crystal clear. Senile grandparents going blind could have seen the gap between Inzaghi and Madrid's back four. Nevertheless, Howard Webb's "world class" linesman kept his flag down for one of the worst offsides goals you will ever see. Football cannot continue like this.

As a fervent Barcelona supporter, I was thrilled to see the Madridistas cheated and robbed. As a football supporter though, I was shocked and humbled by the realization that this travesty could very well happen to my own team on any given day. Or to yours.

Even more vexing was the fact that up in the stands, sitting in the very best seat in the house, was UEFA President Michel Platini - the stubborn grump who paraded himself in front of the Scottish FA proclaiming the initiation of video replay would result in "Playstation football."

"The referee has to be helped by the clubs, the fans, by players, by the media and also by the authorities – everyone has a responsibility. It is why we have added two assistants for Champions League games this season. It is a logical step with so many cameras that can pick up incidents: the more eyes there are to assist the referee, the better the chance of spotting those incidents."

Logical step? Logic would state that the 5th official standing on the end-line would have an actual flag on his stick, and the ability to call fouls or handballs. Logic would state that with so many cameras providing extensive and numerous angles, video replay would be used. Logic would state that anything coming from Platini's mouth on the subject is moronic.

Do you want a logical recommendation to embrace technology? Baby steps. We can all agree it would be rather presumptuous and unrealistic to expect Sepp Blatter and Platini to allow video replay for everything immediately. Referees have a place in the game and their discretion must remain in tact (we cannot start overruling fouls and hand balls). Instead, start slowly. Start with something like offsides goals. The ebb and flow of the match would not be affected, as Platini often fears. In fact, the scoring team would probably waste more time celebrating at the corner flag than video replay would. Find the mistake, call the offsides, disallow the goal, and give the other team (in this case Madrid) a free kick at the spot.

The integrity of the sport is at stake here. Something must be done.

Where do you stand on the issue?


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