Friday, 2 July 2010

Keeping an eye on the ball

I happened to watch the last England and Mexico games earlier this week and must say that I was amazed at the balls of steel that referees and their teams had to ignore what 40,000+ fans in the stadiums and billions of fans around the world could see. Now not every fan would have seen the ball go in but when you see it replayed on video, it seems pretty conclusive (I mean there was no time to tamper with the photographic evidence). But teacher like, if the referees had changed their minds there and then, they would have lost their authority and then had to submit to crowd pressure for the remainder of the game.
I'm not that interested in footie but I am interested in the use of technology to help us in our lives.
So why the resistance to having technology used at the footie games? I mean this is a multi-billion business where the hopes of fans rest on the skills of highly paid (over-hyped) players. The game is faster than it was before. As with Wimbledon, I would enjoy seeing how fast the ball is travelling towards the goal, the curvature at which that strikers send the ball travelling, and where exactly it lands. And there is the photo finish we see at Wimbledon or the Grand National.
In other industries, would we now rely solely on human judgement? However, there are issues in introducing technology here:
1) it would cost money and many clubs are having a hard time making ends meet
2) it's a global business - is it realistic to assume each country hosting the games would be able to install a globally approved system. I mean the state of the pitches in Africa were questionable...would their technology be acceptable?
3) Should FIFA in fact supply technology to the host countries out of the profits they make. According to the Independent FIFA made 1.7bn this year. That's an sickeningly outrageous amount of profit in today's recession.
4) Even if technology is not introduced should FIFA allow the appeal of questionable goals based on video evidence produced by the myriad of TV companies that cover the games?
5) Even if the evidence is clear, there would be fans who for years would say that the results were different (hand of God anyone?)
6) How much beer would be consumed if NFL like every play had to be analysed using the technology rather than relying on the skills of the referees. How long would the games be!

I'll be watching the games today with interest as I do enjoy watching "World Class" performances but woe betide the referees if there are any more questionable judgements.

P.S. I certainly hope that the performances won't be theatrical as even I recognise that this makes the game ugly and incites a lot of resentment.

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