The World Cup Finals enter the quarterfinal stage on Friday and soccer fans worldwide hope for nothing less than well played, well called matches as the champions emerge. FIFA is feeling pressure from fans about several bad calls made during the World Cup soccer matches thus far and has agreed to consider video replays for future World Cup soccer tournaments.
FIFA has always maintained that the beautiful game should be officiated by humans and therefore be subject to human error. For years, FIFA has resisted soccer fans’ request to implement modern technology to assist in the officiating. But some very obvious blown calls in this year’s World Cup Finals did not go unnoticed. And whether it was used by FIFA or not, modern technology used during ESPN’s broadcast of the games showed replays of the calls in question over and over. The replays not only showed the blown calls, but they showed that the calls were not even close.
In one instance, the U.S. was playing against Slovenia in their second match of group play. After falling behind by two goals in the first period, the U.S. scored two goals in the second period. During a free kick late in the game, Landon Donovan curled a nice ball across the front of the goal and Maurice Edu scored what appeared to be the go ahead goal. But the referee called a foul on the Americans on the play and disallowed the goal. Replays were reviewed several times during the broadcast, but no semblance of a foul is evident. The game ended in a draw with the score tied at 2-2.
England trailed Germany 2-1 during the knockout round when a long shot bounced off the upper cross bar and down into the goal before bouncing out. The referee missed the play and no goal was awarded to England. England lost the match by a score of 4-1.
- Later that day, in a knockout round match between Mexico and Argentina, Lionel Messi got the ball on a rebound off the bar and chipped a pass forward to Carlos Tevez who tapped the ball in for an easy score. Through the sequence of the play, though, Tevez was off sides by a mile at the time of Messi’s pass. The referees missed the offsides and counted the goal for Argentina, who won the match by a score of 3-1.
As it turns out, FIFA president Sepp Blatter attended both the England vs. Germany match and the Mexico vs. Argentina match. Blatter saw the blown calls and was disappointed to witness refereeing mistakes such as those. He said it would be nonsense not to consider changes, adding that the International Football Association Board would consider changes at its meeting in Cardiff, Wales later this month.
“Naturally we will take on board again the discussion about technology,” Blatter said, adding that the current system could not be altered midway through the World Cup. “Something has to be changed.” He added that FIFA will also consider updates to its referee training program.
While major sports such as tennis, American football, baseball and hockey have instituted some form of video replay as a tool to help officials get calls right, soccer has steadfastly refused to do so. But after the England-Germany and Mexico-Argentina debacles, FIFPro, who represents professional players worldwide, insisted that referees should have access to high-tech assistance.
“The entire football world once again reacted with disbelief to FIFA’s stubborn insistence that technology does not belong in football,” FIFPro said. “The credibility of the sport is at stake.”
Blatter said he apologized to England and Mexico team officials at their respective matches.
Cheryl Conway, a Wichita area referee, said there is no shame for FIFA in changing their stance. “Referees will still call the match and keep it under their control. But having some back up to correct an incorrect call can only add credibility,” said Conway.
The world hopes the remaining quarterfinals, semi-finals and final matches are called properly so that the championship is truly earned. Netherlands plays Germany and Uruguay plays Ghana on Friday. The quarterfinals continue on Saturday when Germany plays Argentina and Paraguay plays Spain.