Back in 2009, a certain blogger on a Tottenham Hotspur site suggested that Football as an industry lags behind its competitors – if you can call American Football, tennis, cricket and both the rugbys ‘competition’ – in that they all have the benefit of some form of technology to assist the officiating members with their job. The piece was probably inspired by some form of injustice that occurred in a Spurs game, though the author denies this (“Video Referees: The Time Has Come“, have a look for yourself).
Once again we find ourselves in the almost post-apocalyptic meltdown that follows the failure of football match officials to do their jobs correctly, where their accuracy is determined instantaneously by numerous television cameras, super-slow-motion replays and some quite clever virtual reality kit to determine whether certain things were in certain places. The game’s talking heads have variously come out and either suggested that something is on the cards (Sepp Blatter), apologised (Martin ‘SpecSavers’ Atkinson) or derided the lack of introduction of such a thing already (Gordon Taylor).
The question that should be answered is this: what is it about the introduction in technology in football that has proven so very fundamentally difficult to overcome and who has therefore positively prevented it from happening? Here are the runners and riders.
Kaiser Sepp Blatter – The FIFA President has a history of simply ensuring he protects his own interests. On this issue there is no difference, the motivation to retain the status quo – in the form of the heavily-alleged bungs taken over the years in connection with the World Cup – is staggeringly powerful for this clown. There is no benefit whatsoever to be gained in ensuring that rigidly defined regions of doubt and uncertainty remain firmly a part of the game. That said, he has been quoted in the press as “warming” to the idea of goal-line technology, a statement clearly designed to placate the masses, one suspects.
Roy “Gorillaz” Carroll or his brother, Andy – The players don’t want a definitive outcome, especially if their wages might ride on it. What is worse is if the scrutiny of an ‘eye in the sky’ in fact reveals players to be cheats, they want that even less. Heaven forbid that the game is played out to the letter of the Laws of the Game, what next, penalties for shirt-pulling?
General Rupert Murdoch – Interesting one this, could go either way. As it stands, the Sky supremo has pioneered the development and deployment of the equipment that enables the kind of televisual analysis that helps keep the tills rolling in the forefront of the empire. In theory therefore, this organisation – and those like it – already possess the precise tools the sport requires to treat the blight that pervades. Again, there is no advantage to be gained, in fact there is much to be lost – imagine a world where several hours’ viewing and millions of pages of text would no longer be required. It’s unlikely that Mr. Murdoch would back this, the question remains to what lengths would he go to protect his corner?
Cardinal Pierluigi Collina – Imagine the scene, it is a hotly-contested Champions’ League quarter-final with the follicly-challenged Italian in the middle…except that ‘Son of Hawkeye’ now can overrule any decision. How could one possibly question the fallibility of referees? Sig. Collina would most likely reveal his true identity as a cyborg and melt the electronic apparatus on the spot with those laser-eyes!
Sir Alex Ferguson – Old Whisky Face loves to lord it over football in general, this is well-known. In particular, everybody is familiar with certain watch-tapping antics and the almost Derren Brown-esque ability of the Scot to interfere with normal human brainwaves. Machines are un-influencable, so unless he also owns OCP and can plant “Directive 4″ the Manchester United gaffer is out of the running.
The stupidity is that we, the ordinary paying customer, will almost certainly never know what cheeky back-door deals, post-meeting corridor conversations or gentlemens’ agreements have thus far prevented us from obtaining precisely the thing we all crave and have long-since deserved: the certainty that what happens on the pitch is reflected in the result with 100% accuracy. What is worse, is there’s no reason for any of the individuals or the groups they represent to make a U-turn now and back the introduction of technology. Except the referees. And nobody gives a monkey’s about them, right? They’re just not good enough to be real footballers…
The spirit of Hercule Poirot saw the protagonists listed above invited to a gathering at a hitherto undisclosed location, but which can now be revealed – mostly due to the insistence of the individual most comfortable in that milieu – to be a motorway service station on the M1, so the truth could be uncovered in dramatic fashion and football’s Blofeld unmasked over a round of borderline tepid yet seriously stewed cups of tea. In the event however, only the long-forgotten Carroll showed up and that in itself was by virtue of a mistake which meant the meeting coincided with bin collection day.
[typography font=”Arial” size=”11″ size_format=”px” color=”#555[/linequote]FWIW, my money’s on Blatter, the bent git.[/typography]