Archive for November, 2011

The technology argument continues

There has been a great deal of speculation in the English media over the past few days about the possibility of goal line technology being introduced in the Barclays Premier League for the start of the 2012-2013 Season, although this does seem a bit optimistic.

Certainly testing of nine separate systems is underway at the moment and it would seem sensible to expect that some will pass the strict criteria set out by the International FA Board.

A decision will be taken at the end of the 2012 EURO Finals, by which time further testing of the UEFA backed additional goal line assistants experiment will be completed.

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA President, is a late convert to goal line technology after the embarrassment of the disallowed England goal in South Africa 2010 World Cup but he seems to be against the UEFA proposal which is the long term concept of UEFA President Michel Platini who in turn is totally against goal line technology.

Goal line technology has been on the agenda for a number of years but as yet no satisfactory system has been discovered. It will have very limited use since it will only be used to signal if the ball has crossed the goal line into goal.

‘ Goal or no goal’ incidents are fairly rare in a match – perhaps there will be less than 10% of all matches played where there will such situations. The equipment, which will be expensive to install and maintain, will be unused for much of a season.

It might also create a demand for cameras to be used for other things such as penalty kick claims or offside. It this is allowed the whole concept of football’s match control system and ethos will disappear forever.

If it is decided to allow goal line technology, it will only be the very rich leagues or competitions which can afford it.

Similarly the additional assistant experiment, while it is possible in rich UEFA competitions, would be very expensive in continental competitions in Asia and Africa with the added expense of training a whole new group of officials to perform a duty which, for the most part, referees and their assistants do well at present.

There does not seem to be great support for this from anyone except UEFA.

It is popular to demand some new initiative, especially after a controversial incident, and to point out the other sports which use technology. The final decision in sports such as rugby union, however, is still made by a video referee in the stand and mistakes can still occur.

There is no perfect answer.

Maybe we should just accept a wrongly disallowed goal in the same way that we accept a missed penalty kick or a missed open goal.

That’s football!

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FIFA poppy ban is correct

Much has been said, particularly in the English media, about FIFA’s decision to ban England players from wearing shirts embroidered with a poppy in the forthcoming match with Spain.

The poppy is a special symbol for the British to remember those who gave their lives in military conflicts over the years, not just in the two World Wars.

Millions of Brits stand in silence to respect the two minute silence at the 11th hour of the 11th month every year.

Factories and offices will come to a halt for what is a special moment in Britain to respect our fallen heroes.

But I believe that FIFA were correct to ban England from having the poppy embroidered on their shirts.

International shirts have always been free of sponsorship logos and rightly so.

They have also been free of any political or religious messages.

Only the manufacture’s logo, the competition logo and the Fair Play logo are permitted.

The FIFA ban on wearing a poppy embroidered on a football jersey was correct.

To allow England to wear the poppy would set a precedent for all 208 members of FIFA to have special jerseys created to remember special events in their own history.

A sensible compromise has been reached which allows England players to wear a poppy on their black armbands.

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No diving in Maldives

The 1200 or so islands that make up the Maldives are a paradise for holiday makers and especially divers who can explore the coral reefs in the clear waters of the Indian Ocean.

But in other circumstances diving is not allowed in Maldives.

I mean on the football field.

AFC Project Future is an initiative for the development of young Asian referees under the age of 25. They are selected firstly from the AFC Festivals of Football and, after successfully completing a selection course, they take part in a two year development programme which takes them to different parts of Asia.

Recently 11 referees, who were selected from the 2010 Festivals, officiated matches in the Maldives Third Division as part of their training and diving was certainly on the agenda.

Diving on the field was very common.

Diving, or simulation to give it its official title, is no more prevalent in Maldives than in other countries but judging from the amount of players who dived or made miraculous recoveries from the ‘injuries’ they received during the matches, Maldives should promote itself not only as a centre for diving but also as an Asian version of Lourdes in France where many of the Roman Catholic faith believe miracle healing has taken place.

Diving is a common problem in world football and referees can only hope to get most calls right but the divers are highly skilled.

You win some – you lose some.

Wouldn’t it also be good if we could go back to the good old days when it was a sign of weakness to show you were injured instead of leaving the field for the slightest knock as happens today?

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