Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tottenham-Chelsea: change the rules!

After Tottenham was stolen of a great triumph against Chelsea, the discussion has again emerged on the use of TV to assist the referees.
I have always found that football (soccer) is the most old-fashioned sport in the world regarding this, as near-dictatorial powers of the referee, gives him an unprecedented influence in the outcome of way too many matches.
Some people say that TV assitance would break the flow of the match. Nonsense. I am not arguing that TV should be used to clarify every small offense. Instead, it should be used when there is a clear and controversial goal-giving situation. Take for instance Maradona's famous hand-goal against England in 1986. In the time English players used protesting to the referee, the whole world saw the incident in slow-motion 4-5 times, and nobody but the referee was in doubt that Maradona had used his hand.
The same was the case with Pedro Mendes' clear goal for Tottenham against Chelsea. Only ones who did not see the ball over the line were the referee and the linesmen. And as so many famous coaches are now arguing, they would favour the use of TV in such situations.
This is just common sense. But I am most surprised about the lack of comments from referees. I have before heard Pierluigi Colina, undoubtfully the best referee in the world, say he is against the use of TV aid in matches. Are they not interested in improving the quality of refereeing!?
An alternative could be to have a 'goal-linesman'. That is, a linesman behind each goal, who could have the final word on such situations, as well as assist the referee in corner-kick situations, penalty-kicks, and other situations where the linesman is (more than too often) a bit too far away.
In times where commercialisation has made the stakes in football so high, and when the possibilities of improving the quality of refereering are so many, it is deplorable not to do anything.

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