FIFA delays video technology for at least another 12 months

FIFA have deferred experimenting with video technology for at least another 12 months, according to Video technology will harm referees, not protect them and it will be the biggest decision ever in Jerome Valcke’s eyes, who is the FIFA secretary-general.

A proposal by the Dutch Football Association to test its system next season was backed by England and Scotland but the International Football Association Board, which includes the associations of Wales and Northern Ireland, decided on Saturday at their meeting in Belfast that it is not the time to drag football into the 21st century.

Fifa’s stance has been that video technology would undermine the integrity of the referee if they had to constantly refer to a video official.

There is a slight flaw with that logic. The way things are going, there will be little integrity left to protect in a year’s time.

As the men in suits again dithered in the boardroom, the men in black took a verbal battering for their mistakes on the pitch this past weekend.

A farcical case of mistaken identity at Old Trafford on Saturday where referee Roger East sent off Sunderland defender Wes Brown instead of John O’Shea for fouling Radamel Falcao in the penalty area, could not have been more comically timed.

FIFA delays video technology

Television replays clearly show O’Shea making contact with Falcao and the Sunderland skipper even removed his captain’s armband in anticipation of being shown a red card.

Every week it seems the post-match discussions are filled with debate on the performance of the men with the whistles.

It is increasingly difficult, then, to understand Fifa’s reluctance to introduce video technology, especially when those most in the firing line are the referees.

Is the introduction of technology really a “bigger” decision than the banning of the pass by foot back to the goalkeeper for the start of the 1992/93 season?

What many forget is the concerns that rule raised, such as whether the players would be able to handle the change.

There were thoughts that defenders would start flicking the ball in the air to head back to their keepers as well as worries over just how those clumsy custodians would deal with the shocking concept of the ball at their feet.

Football adapted, though, and, sure, some keepers made, and continue to make, fools of themselves, but it has been better not to have to endure precious minutes being eaten away by passes between defenders and goalkeeper.

Then there is goal-line technology. Since its introduction at last year’s World Cup, it has been required on a handful of occasions and each time the process has been so seamless (and accurate) that the energy and time spent discussing it all those years now hardly seems worth it.

There was also the recent introduction of the vanishing spray, which has proved a remarkably simple and time-saving way to stop encroachment at free kicks.

FIFA delays video technology

The Dutch FA proposed that the video technology would only cover decisions affecting goals, penalties and red cards, so potentially several times a game.

It is unlikely it would eat up any more time than what is wasted by players inundating the referee and arguing every disputed decision. The Dutch claim as little as 15 seconds would be needed to make most decisions.

If that estimation is accurate, then Fifa has failed to do right by the game and by the referees.

Imagine a world where managers are not demanding reviews of contentious, potentially game-defining decisions because they have already been dealt with definitively in real time.

Far from undermining it, video review technology could be just the thing to safeguard the integrity of the referees.

Referees are in for another 12 months of abuse from the media, supporters, players and managers, before FIFA sees the light of video technology.

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