Archive for July, 2012

The naivety of Stuart Pearce

Sometimes coaches can get carried away with themselves.

How many times do coaches say in the post match press conference that they did not see a controversial incident which favoured their team while having perfect vision to see another incident the same distance away which went against their team?

Pearce’s comments before the opening Team GB match against Senegal do not fall into that category.

He believes that the presence of Team GB in the Olympics ‘can happen more often and say to the public that this is a valid tournament.’

In this unique situation, Team GB qualifies for the Olympic Football Tournament because London is the host city. Every other team in the competition has had to qualify through their confederation’s qualification competitions.

How could a Team GB ever qualify for the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when there is no such thing as a GB Team to take part in the UEFA qualification matches.

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales participate in the UEFA Under-21 Championship, which is the qualifying tournament for the Olympics every four years, as separate nations.

A team GB can never qualify, since neither England, Scotland, Northern Ireland nor Wales are members of the Olympic movement.

Pearce, whose own position in the new FA coaching hierarchy is in doubt, should accept that the London Olympics is a one off situation.

There will be no legacy from the Team GB involvement in London.

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Is it time to think outside the box?

I have followed the discussions on goal line technology with great interest.

I welcome the recent approval by the International FA Board of goal line technology although I have serious reservations about the UEFA sponsored additional assistant system.

I was involved in preparing the revised version of the Laws of the Game in 1997 and am very aware that the Laws of the Game must be both conservative, recognising that changes must be applied worldwide, but also dynamic, taking into account the modern situation in football.

This was done with the pass to the goalkeeper, the tackle from behind and with denying a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Television has changed football.

There would have been no debate today about whether the ball had crossed the goal line for the controversial English goal in the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany.

The all seeing eye of the television camera and the slow motion television replays would have given an answer in seconds – and so avoided more than 45 years of controversy!

Decision making about whether or not the ball has crossed the goal line is very difficult for match officials according to the present Law.

Perhaps we should think outside the box and change the Laws to award a goal when part of the ball crosses the goal line and not the whole ball.

I believe there is great value in considering this change to the Laws of the Game which considers the ball to be out of play when part of it, not the whole ball, has passed over a boundary line.

This would mean that a throw in would be awarded when part of the ball passes over the touch line and a goal kick or corner kick would be awarded when part of the ball passes over the goal line. A penalty kick would also be awarded if the offence occurred inside the penalty area and not on the penalty area line.

The controversial decision in the 2002 FIFA World Cup to disallow the goal for Spain v Korea would be a non event since part of the ball had passed over the goal line and so according to the new Law, the ball was out of play and goal kick would be awarded.

The main advantage of this change would be that a goal would be awarded if any part of the ball crosses the goal line, not the whole ball as at present and this would be easier for the match officials to recognise.

I realise that, politically, it may not be the best time to introduce this change, but goal line technology is only for the very rich.

It is meaningless to 99.99% of the game

This change in definition would benefit all levels of the game and is worthy of consideration.

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The recent decision by the International FA Board to allow goal line technology to be used is a momentous decision for world football – or at least .01% of world football.

Goal line technology, at a cost of up to $400,000 per installation, is only for the rich leagues and competitions.

Worldwide football on the public parks will gain no benefit.

The controversy of whether a ball did or did not cross the goal line will be determined by technology in only a few cases.

Everyone else can argue about it afterwards in the café or in the pub.

That is football.

Long may these football controversies continue!

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Big decisions in Zurich

Today at a special meeting in Zurich, the International FA Board agreed to the use of goal line technology.

It is a major change for the top levels of the game and two companies, Hawkeye and GoalRef, have met the initial criteria.

Both will be tested in the FIFA World Club Championship in Japan in December this year.

The decision is predictable but, at a cost of $250,000 per system, only the richest leagues or competitions will be able to afford it.

It will be available to the referee only to indicate whether a ball has crossed the goal line and will not be used for any other decisions such as offside or penalty kicks.

Also approved was the UEFA backed system of additional assistant referees on the goal line. The weaknesses in this system were shown when Ukraine was denied a goal when the ball crossed the line in the match against England but the additional assistant did not signal for a goal.

The UEFA system is more than just indicating whether or not the ball has gone into goal. It also gives the additional assistant the authority to communicate with the referee and inform him of incidents inside the penalty area.

This system will mostly be used at the top level in Europe and there seems little great enthusiasm for its introduction but it was the brainchild of Michel Platini the UEFA President who is against technology and wants to keep the human element in decision making.

It is unlikely that FIFA will use the system in the forthcoming FIFA World Club Championship, the Confederations Cup or the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It will concentrate on goal line technology.

Finally the IFAB did make a decision which will affect grassroots football when it allowed the wearing of headscarves by women players.

This is a major step forward for women’s football, especially in many parts of Asia.

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Scottish football in crisis

Scottish football has some major problems to face in the next few days.

First of all, after a 5-1 drubbing by USA, the national team has slumped to 49th in the FIFA rankings.

National coach Craig Levein has had a fairy easy ride from the media so far but as the World cup Qualifiers loom ahead, he will be expected to deliver results.

However the biggest problem is at club level.

Glasgow Rangers, founded in 1872 is one of the oldest clubs in world football but because a lack of financial prudence and risky fiscal practices over more than a decade, it is now in liquidation and will have to re-apply for membership of both the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Premier League.

They will succeed with their application to join the SFA but will not be accepted by the SPL who have memories of being bullied by Rangers in the past and of Rangers winning titles with, as events have proved, players they could not afford.

There is strong opposition to Rangers from opposing supporters who have threatened to boycott their clubs’ matches if the club votes for Rangers and there is no doubt that Rangers must be severely punished, but there is also the financial reality that in the long term, Scottish football needs Rangers.

A suggestion by the SPL that Rangers should drop a division to the Scottish Football League has been opposed by a large number of SFL clubs, many of whom are demanding that Rangers should enter the SFL in the Third Division.

Some even question if Rangers should be admitted to the SFL at all.

It is getting rather messy but the harsh reality is that sporting integrity is one thing but the survival of these smaller clubs is in danger if they do not swallow their pride and recognise that they need Rangers.

Supporters can make loud protest noises against Rangers but the club directors in the SFL clubs will be the ones who will have to dig deep into their own pockets if the money generated by the Sky and ESPN contracts disappears along with the subsidy payments from the SPL.

Could an SPL 2 be formed which many of the clubs presently opposed to Rangers would be desperate to join – and play against them next season under the SPL 2 banner?

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