Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Eternal Debate over Soccer Rule Changes; and Don't Let Mick Jagger Near Your World Cup Squidad

Mick Jagger is the Harbinger of Doom, first for the U.S. on Saturday and then on Sun and Hun Sunday for England. Hopefully Micky Bigmouth and Slick Willie bluetoothed Too $hort while they were swapping tail tales.

On the more serious tip, like 50-cent and J.T. said, let's ayo technology (but f Timbaland for ripping off Crystal Castles). Reprinted from EPL Talk (a must read site if you're following the World Cup):
Sunday’s refereeing blunders, following the many glaring group stage errors, have reignited a debate over changing the sport’s rules. Some favor video replay, some favor an additional referee who would only monitor each goal area, while others would like a sensor-system for goals similar to that used in hockey. Of all the ideas, the addition of another referee seems to have the most realistic chance as it has already been implemented on an experimental basis in competitions like this past season’s Europa League.

However, the debate should not obscure the fact that goals like Frank Lampard’s simply have to be called correctly by the referees on the pitch. There were four eyes directly on the action, those of referee Jorge Larrionda and those of assistant Mauricio Espinosa. How did both these men blow the call? Are the assistants too timid to voice their opinion over the headsets (technology!) they use to communicate with each other? An additional referee stationed behind the goal may well have called Lampard’s call correctly, but keep in mind again that two were already watching the play today and still couldn’t get it right.

Moreover, before changing the rules, shouldn’t Fifa ensure that only the best of the best get to referee World Cup matches? If they are only using the best of the best then explain how Larrionda,  who was suspended for six months for “irregularities” and forced to bow out of the 2002 World Cup, is allowed to referee in the most important tournament there is. Explain how referee Martin Hansson, he who allowed Theirry Henry’s handball goal, is even in South Africa working as a fourth official and on the list of reserve referees. Get the referee selection right, then worry about rule changes.

Of course, we may be asking too much of referees to make such crucial decisions when the game is faster than ever. All the more reason to give them better tools to work with. The traditionalists may bemoan any tinkering whatsoever. But then again, cricket, rugby and tennis, all international sports with traditions, history, and conventionality that rival football, have all introduced technology to improve the chance that a call is made correctly.
Moreover, would the introduction of video replay, an additional referee or a microchipped ball be so drastic in a sport that has seen the introduction of such rule changes as allowing three substitutions, adding linesmen, deciding draws via penalties, awarding three points for a win, eliminating the backpass, adding red and yellow cards, and the various changes to the offside law?

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