Is it time for video refereeing in soccer? While purists deplore the idea, English and Mexican fans both saw obviously wrong refereeing calls cost their teams World Cup momentum. In England's case, television replays showed the ball clearly crossing their rival's goal line before being snatched back by the goalkeeper, while a scoring shot against Mexico was later revealed to be offside. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has now apologized to both countries for the errors, and said he will re-examine the case for giving refs access to video technology. Is change inevitable? (Watch England's disallowed goal)
There's no defense for this level of inaccuracy: The "imperfections" of a human referee are part of the nature of sport, and soccer can survive "refs being snookered by dives or hidden fouls," says George Vecsey at The New York Times. But these "blatant, if honest" errors arguably changed the results of the games. Video technology is now "absolutely essential."
"An obvious case for instant replay"
Technology can provoke paranoia, too: Blatter's statement is merely "an effort to calm fans' nerves," says Bill Chappell at NPR. The FIFA president "has long stood against including technology in FIFA matches," even though "the rest of the world" now seems to agree it is essential. He may have a point, though. "Imagine the paranoia and conspiracy theories" that would come with new technology.
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For the sake of the referees, FIFA must bring in video replays: FIFA worries that technology will "remove the power of the referee or slow the game down," says Steven Haake at The Guardian. But when blown calls are instantly replayed on the JumboTron, it makes the ref look "foolish," and the game "usually stops anyway due to the reaction of the players." Denying the referees access to replay technology is actually undermining their authority.
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