Football must enter the 21st century and adopt technology

The argument is over! It is time we gave referees the help they need

Technology has taken over our everyday lives. From the moment our mobile phone alarms go off in the morning, we generally rely on a plethora of technological wonders to help us get through the day.

If it plays such a vital role in our everyday lives, and for all intents and purposes makes life easier, why has the footballing world been so dismissive of using technological advances in our beautiful game? It’s a debate that crops up almost weekly when inevitable wrong decisions leave players, managers and fans feeling hard done by. Th e row rages on in the press, amongst professionals and on the terraces.

Here’s my stance; the right technology in football would be a fantastic addition to the modern game. Yeah, it might take away some of the traditional values of football but if it makes for a fairer game, why not use it? Th e arguments from so many are that using video technology, for example, would slow down the game and ruin it. Well here’s something to consider – aren’t simulation, mistaken identity and infuriating refereeing decisions already ruining our game? I’d argue so.

I guess the point to ponder is what aspects of the game technology could be used in to ensure minimal disruption for maximum success. We’ve seen the goalline technology come in this season and it’s been a roaring success. It’s eff ective, speedy and has actually been used on a few occasions. I fi nd it hard to argue against the use of video replays and believe with the correct implementation, they shouldn’t slow the game down all that much. Television channels are able to show us replays almost instantly, so to me, it’s a small few seconds to pay for a correct assessment.

Ever since the technology argument came about, I’ve considered how a compromise could be made to ensure that teams do not cry wolf every time a decision goes against them. I can see that those situations could see a game last considerably longer. Th e answer in my mind is to bring in similar systems as are used in the likes of tennis and cricket — a review system in which teams get a limited number of opportunities to ‘challenge’ a referee’s call. Th at seems fair, and perhaps a way to test the water.

Having said all that, I wish all the footballing bodies the best of luck with coming up with a plan for that and implementing it. It’s a task I wouldn’t envy, and it would have to be fool proofed in order to avoid abuse (say time-wasting at the latter stages of games, for example). Th ere is also the argument that even with video replays, there is a vast amount of interpretation to contend with. I suppose the counterargument is that most of what goes on currently is also open to individual understanding. Again, there would need to be further clarification of rules, training of officials and faultless guidelines.

What are the alternatives to bringing in further tech and video into football? To be honest, I can’t see that there are any. Human error is part of life. Officials are only human and with modern football seeing a huge increase in what can only be considered cheating, referees are having a harder time. For European ties, Uefa attempted to take some pressure from the man in the middle by introducing two further officials, one behind each goal-line. Although many believe that their input is minimal to non-existent, there is a line of communication between them and other officials, which is often made use of.

Is this a way forward to avoid video replays and such coming into the Premier League? Would more bodies be an old-fashioned answer to our woes — spotting missed penalty decisions, dives, elbows and general foul play — perhaps. In the interest of balance and fairness, we have to remember that technology would work for and against every club — we have to be willing to take the rough with the smooth. As West Ham fans, we love to complain about all the wrong decisions against us but we have to also remember that opposition teams will have complaints about things we might have got away with.

Is that a plus point to football? You win some, you lose some? I’m not too sure. It would be nice for everything to be right but I can see fans denying that the technology and subsequent decisions are right. Will we really like it when things rightfully go against us?

For me, the ultimate tech addition to football would be instant video replays — it keeps everyone in a job but just gives them a little help along the way. It’s hard to think of many other ways that technology can have a huge impact on the sport. There is no denying that something needs to be done about the amount of wrong decisions being made, and the blame being placed onto officials

Wouldn’t you wait an extra minute per game if each team had three chances to ‘challenge’ the ref, at 10 seconds a glance? I realize this might be very idealistic but with practice and co-operation from players who want the game to be played out fairly, I think it’s doable.

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