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Technology in football- why we need it now

981   //    05 Nov 2012, 13:25 IST

Let’s take a step back from football and look at the world at large. Humans are a much evolved race from a few decades ago. The continuous negotiations between science and the human race continue. We are on the brink of finding the Higgs boson, the God particle. We have machines to look and propel life into space. We have people living in space. We have before us a more advanced population; we have technology. If we take a look back into football and see how it’s being used there, we will see progress. From the ways of training , to response to an injury, to rehabilitation, to kits that focus energy, we have changed. Then if we look a little deeper into one section of the football community, things look a little dusty. This section has been in the news for all the wrong reasons the past few weeks. Football controversy begins and ends with them most of the time. Our moderators with yellow and red rectangles in their pocket and armed with just the attention-drawing whistle – our referees.

The use of the word ‘just’ in the previous sentence is because I think they deserve more. They stand between 22 huge egos and a ball and they, more often than not, are easily trampled. If not by the 22 souls, then by the thousands who have paid money to watch them. If not them, then the assailant media who will camp in their front lawns and question them about ethics. Mostly it’s a combination of all this brute pressure. It may not happen every 90 minutes of the beautiful game, but it happens and when it happens, it  hits hard. So why can’t we help them? FIFA can, but they have not yet and it is frustrating for the football fan.

This week, it was the goal West Ham should have had but instead had disallowed for offside. That would have seen them beat the champions and quite frankly, would have been the cherry on the icing for the Hammers who have shown great character following their promotion under Big Sam.  Last week’s mistakes have been well publicized. The Suarez goal disallowed in the Merseyside derby took second page only to the combination of a unjust red card to former Scouser Torres (though some may argue, and fairly so, that he should have been sent off earlier), and the goal credited to United which was scored by Hernandez from an offside position. The events in London were a disgrace to the game at play and more essentially to the refereeing set-up in the world of football.

The referee holds the remote of the game in his hands and on the field he play God; but he is, like every other person in the world, a human and it is in the nature of us humans to err. But it is also in the nature of us humans to do all we can to prevent erring again. You touch a hot plate, you burn a finger and you learn never to touch it again. And you will not approach it without protection again. But where is the protection for our referees? Why is all the goal line and video technology going to waste in a corner of FIFA’s ‘to implement’ cabinet which is right now, for all we know, buried in the Swiss Alps. Why aren’t we using technology?

The right winged football fanatic may say it is to keep the human touch in the game, which is a fair argument except for the fact that it is not. If it was, we wouldn’t abuse referees when they make bad decisions or even game destroying ones. Why keep a human when you demand non human like behaviour ? I’m not suggesting totally removing the human referee. No, that would be devastating. Just imagine a robot trying to stop Roy Keane from breaking a opponents leg or negotiating with Sir Alex for stoppage time. Those robots will be blown to smithereens. All us football fans need is to keep the human touch in the game while assisting that touch with science. It’s worked for Cricket, a boring British game, so why not for football. Why will the English footballing community respond any differently? And it isn’t even going to cost that much. The goal-line technology might; but a camera to review the decisions is already there. If we can see it on T.V, why can the referee have a tablet where he too can see it? There seems no reason why this cannot happen.

FIFA and UEFA are walking a tight rope here over a game that is, for some people, a religion and they would do well to pave a broader path for themselves by connecting science and the moderators of the beautiful game. It is easy and will fulfil the wants of many and save the sanity of hundreds of referees around the globe. If done fast, it will be a saviour. But for the many already affected, it may be a little too late (ex:Tom  Ovrebo who was ill-fated to referee a Chelsea v Barcelona game horribly.)  Science has begun the marathon a long time and seems a shame football has not caught up. But we should and we will. All it needs is a little push to a few cameras.

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