Monday, January 30, 2012

Football Needs TV Replays

Queens Park Rangers Vice Chairman Amit Bhatia has become the latest person within football to call for video replays to be introduced. "I'm convinced it's time to allow the challenge system in football", he Tweeted, reported The Guardian. "We have to have some kind of video replay system so that harsh decisions can be reviewed. So much is at stake in every game. Mistakes are made. Decisions are difficult and that's fine, but why not allow those difficult decisions to be reviewed? One challenge per half per manager wouldn't slow the game down by any more than 30 seconds. I think it's got to happen. Every fan and player in the land would appreciate a fair review of a difficult decision. It's not rocket science. And my rant isn't about today's decision. It's a general observation about football and applies to us all who want fairer decisions."

This is not the first time that clubs have advocated video replays (as this blog posting proves), and I have been arguing for their introduction for a long time. Allowing the manager or captain to make a limited number of challenges to decisions made during a match would impact the game little, and most clubs already have the technology in place to do this. FIFA's argument is that to allow video replays would ruin the flow of the game, however I can't see how an instant TV replay the minute the ball next goes out of play would delay the game any more than appeals to the referee by outraged players. As I have recently pointed out, FIFA is driven by generating money for football and I suspect that it cannot see any commercial value in mandating a system where the technology to be used already exists. Compare this with goal-line technology, where FIFA has a number of companies queuing up to become an official supplier.

Put simply, if Bhatia is to be successful in gaining FIFA support for video replays, he needs to gain support for a system that can generate commercial value for the game, and pitch it to FIFA. Perhaps a system could be introduced similar to that used in Australian rugby league, where companies pay to sponsor video replays. Otherwise FIFA will continue to pursue its expensive and ineffective goal-line technology solution, which is not 'for the good of the game'.

 Andy Brown


Friday, January 20, 2012

FIFA’s actions consistently undermine its motto

FIFA’s motto is ‘For the Good of the Game’. However, I am increasingly thinking that this should be changed to ‘For the Good of Our Own, and Big Business’. Not as snappy, but perhaps more realistic.

Firstly came a damning letter from a number of professional journalists, who have refused an offer from FIFA to become involved with FIFA’s interestingly-titled Independent Governance Committee. Basically, they have refused to become involved because they allege that the Committee is far from independent. Even more interestingly, they also accuse FIFA President Sepp Blatter of trying to personally delay publication of the report by Zug Investigating Magistrate Thomas Hildbrand into kickback corruption at FIFA, which they allege ‘destroys’ his claims to have been cleared by the investigation. ‘We are advised that there is no legal impediment to Blatter putting his copy online today’, reads the letter, which is contrary to FIFA’s claims that the document cannot be released due to legal measures taken by one of the parties involved. The Canton of Zug agrees with the journalists, and has ordered the release of the document. All of this smacks of an organisation trying to protect its own.

FIFA has also been trying to protect its sponsorship deal with Budweiser by forcing the organisers of the Rio 2014 World Cup to break Brazilian law by allowing the sale of beer in its stadiums. This is understandable, as FIFA needs to protect the interest of its sponsor, Budweiser. However, FIFA also wants to change a Brazilian law that mandates half-price tickets for students and OAPs. There is also a reason for this – FIFA now sees ‘For the Good of the Game’ to mean that cash is more important to the football family than social responsibility, and is willing to take money from pensioners and students.

FIFA consistently places its need for ever-more cash above its responsibility of choosing what is best for football. As I have pointed out before, the only logical reason for FIFA’s insistence on goal-line technology when video referees can do the same job is that it sees a system it can license to companies for money.

Perhaps it is time to ask whether FIFA is for the good of the game, or for the good of itself.

Andy Brown