Archive for June, 2012

Great Britain do not normally take part in the Olympic Football Tournament since there is no Great Britain team and all four UK countries take part in UEFA and FIFA competitions as separate member associations.

England won the FIFA World Cup in 1966, Scottish Champions Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 and in earlier times Northern Ireland and Wales have taken part in the final stages of the World Cup.

The national identity of the four British home associations has been sacrosanct.

The London Olympic Games have presented a different scenario.

As the host nation it is expected that there will be a Team GB in the Football Tournament but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fear that by taking part in a joint team this could compromise the future integrity of the four home associations.

This may or not be the case.

I believe the special circumstances of a one off team taking part in the London Olympics would not endanger the status of the four home associations but some disagree.

What is beyond doubt, however, is that football is the only sport in the Olympic Games which does not regard an Olympic gold medal as the pinnacle of achievement.

Winning the FIFA World Cup is the top prize in football.

There has been controversy in UK in the past few days about the composition of the GB Team. David Beckham, a very influential supporter of the Games Bid, has been omitted by coach Stuart Pearce.

It is also reported that there will be no Scottish or Northern Irish players in the squad, although two of the overage players will be Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy of Wales.

The Olympic Football Tournament is different things to different countries. To Spain, Brazil and Argentina it is a well trodden training ground for potential World Cup players.

For Team GB in London 2012 it is a one off hybrid tournament with no long term
legacy.

Football is the only Olympic sport with over 1 million unsold tickets.

Maybe Beckham would have added the necessary marketing and glamour required by a GB Team which has so far failed to capture the UK public’s imagination.

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The International FA Board gets it wrong

The International FA Board, founded in 1886, is the oldest international body in world football.

Over the past 126years, it has been a wonderful servant to football fulfilling its role as the guardian of the Laws of the Game which are accepted worldwide.

The recent changes to the Laws of the Game, approved at the IFAB Meeting in March 2012 are not major.

The colour of tape on players’ stockings is hardly going to change the face of world football, neither is the position of advertising boards around the field of play.

The IFAB, however, has a made an error by introducing a change to Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play.

The proposal by the Football Association to disallow a goal scored when a ball is kicked directly into an opponent’s goal at a restart from an uncontested dropped ball , was seen as a way of overcoming the unusual situation of a goal being scored from this restart.

This law change is basically flawed according to the Laws of the Game since Law 8 states that play restarts when the ball touches the ground.

How then can the IFAB approve a law change which does not allow a goal to be scored when the ball is in play?

What is meant by kicking a ball directly into an opponents’ goal. If the kicker takes two kicks of the ball before kicking it into the goal is that allowed?

It is an unsound change and should never have been passed by the IFAB.

The composition of the IFAB is under pressure from reviews being taken at present by FIFA.

To justify its position in world football it must not only be the guardian of the Laws of the Game, it must also be accurate in its decisions.

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It had to happen.

A EURO 2012 goal/no goal controversy in the match between the co-hosts Ukraine and England.

The ball was cleared by English defender John Terry but it had fully crossed the goal line and a goal should have been awarded by the referee, Viktor Kassai of Hungary on the advice of his additional assistant referee.

The fact that a Ukrainian player may have been offside in the build up to the goal merely complicates the matter.

The additional assistant experiment , approved by the International FA Board, but essentially driven by UEFA and its President Michel Platini has been shown to be flawed.

UEFA referees, according to unofficial reports, do not favour the additional assistant experiment, but how many are going to tell President Platini that his idea, which to be fair to him, he has promoted for over a decade, does not work?

Similarly UEFA’s Chief Refereeing Officer Pierluigi Collina and his colleagues are not going to publicly oppose Platini.

Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, has stated clearly that this incident merely emphasises that goal line technology is essential but he only reverted to this position after England had an obvious goal disallowed in the match with Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

There is a political side to this argument.

FIFA now wants to introduce goal line technology and seems to have two proven systems, the English Hawkeye System and GoalRef, a Danish/German system.

Platini and UEFA are totally against goal line technology and favour additional assistants.

The IFAB meets in Zurich on 5th July to make a final decision and probably both systems will be approved.

However both systems have limited viability throughout world football because of the costs involved but they can be installed for a major competition.

After the Ukraine v England decision, Blatter seems to have the upper hand and it is very unlikely that 24 or so teams of five officials will make the trip to Brazil in 2014.

Hawkeye and/or GoalRef, however, might be on the team sheet!

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