The Debate for Instant Replay Continues!

by Katie Ginnane

For all you soccer fans out there, I am sure you have witnessed your fair share of upsets, which in my opinion, makes the game even more exciting. However, the dark side of soccer’s unpredictability stems from inherently incorrect calls from referees. We have all seen it. The ball crosses the goal line, yet the referee calls for a goal kick rather than seeing a goal. A corner kick is awarded when the ball should have been thrown-in. A hand ball turns into a goal.

The 2010 World Cup coverage was peppered with these instances of horrible calls. A shot by England’s Lampard’s crossed the goal line against Germany; however, because the referee did not see it, it was not a goal. A goal by Argentina’s Tevez came while he was clearly offsides, as shone by instant replay. Finally, the heartbreaking loss for Ireland against France when Thierry Henry trapped the ball with his hand to score, ending Ireland’s prospects of continuing into the World Cup. All of these bad calls and mistakes in the 2010 World Cup fueled a continuing debate of whether the game should finally allow for instant replay technology.

The debate continues again, this time stemming from a Tottenham loss against Chelsea in the FA cup.  According to players on both sides, a goal called by the referee simply did not cross the goal line and was not a goal.  Spurred by these horrible calls and fan’s outrage, the Federation Internationale de Football Association or FIFA has decided to look into changing some of the rules to allow for instant replays.  Although, it is not as easy as one may think.

FIFA, an international body, contains a Congress , several executive bodies, standing committees, judicial bodies and governance bodies.  The Congress’s decision-making powers includes:  deciding whether to admit, suspend or expel a member, deciding the location of FIFA headquarters (in Zurich since 1932), awarding the title of honorary president, honorary vice-president or honorary member, amending the Statutes, the Regulations Governing the Application of the Statutes and the Standing Orders of the Congress, removing a FIFA Executive Committee member from office, approving the balance sheet and income statement, approving the Activity Report, and finally electing the president every four years.  The judicial branch of FIFA has three sections, appeals committee, ethics committee and disciplinary committees.  The board who decides the universal rules of the game is the International Football Association Board.  Because of “Home Nation’s”, which include England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, influence, generally a rule will not be changed without British support.  On the heals of England’s loss in the 2010 World Cup, British opinion has shifted towards allowing instant replays in the games.  Only time will tell if replays are ever allowed.

Because a referee’s decision is final, looking back at all the mistakes in all these matches does not mean that a game will be replayed, as Ireland requested during the 2010 World Cup.  This request for instant replays also requires consideration of how much it would fundamentally change the game.  Perhaps what makes the game so enjoyable and unique is multifaceted factors which influence the game, including the referees.

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