Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Fifa will keep on stalling over video evidence

Late last week the President of the Asian Football Confederation, Mohammed Bin Hammam, announced that he’d be standing against Sepp Blatter in the Fifa elections on June 1. I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

For a start, he’s so much against the head of world football that he campaigned on Blatter’s behalf in the last two elections and, far from delivering a radical and detailed plan to re-design Fifa — an essential you’d think — and the sport as a whole, Bin Hammam’s announcement was couched only in vague promises.

Meantime, typically, the arch-politician Blatter was currying favour with the appalling military junta in Burma — any vote will do, it seems, in order to be re-elected.

The only hopeful sign was that Bin Hammam said he’d definitely pursue goal-line technology but is that remotely enough any longer?

Are you as sick of it as I am? High-profile match after match delivers further important errors by officials that the simple and widespread use of technology would easily eradicate. And it doesn’t help when these errors are accompanied by the hypocrisy of managers.

Recently, Sir Alex Ferguson initially defended Mark Clattenburg’s ridiculous decision not to send Wayne Rooney off at Wigan — only later did he describe the player as “lucky” — while, rightly, questioning Phil Dowd’s leniency with Jamie Carragher over the tackle on Nani. Both Rooney and Carragher deserved red cards. Any sight of a replay had people wincing at the challenges.

Now, in the red corner, is Steve Bruce. The Sunderland boss said he found it “bizarre a linesman can make that big a decision . . . surely it is time for technology to be used in these situations.”

Bruce was referring to the influence the assistant had in changing referee Kevin Friend’s mind to award a free kick and instead give a penalty kick to Liverpool. And, yes, John Mensah’s foul on Jay Spearing was patently outside, not inside the penalty area.

But isn’t this the same Steve Bruce who could only offer a wry smile at the Emirates when Andrey Arshavin’s perfectly good goal was wrongly ruled offside and when the same player had an obvious penalty denied? What goes around comes around . . . or so it’s argued.

The point is that in every single case discussed here play was stopped for a free kick and you would have needed mere seconds to see a replay that would question or revise any decision previously taken by the referee. Where is the embarrassment or crime in that?

I care not a jot that there’d be less to argue about later at home or in the pub.

What matters more? That we leave the game open to human error or get it as right as we possibly can?

A caller to ‘6-0-6’ on Sunday night argued that the Premier League should “go its own way and immediately introduce video technology. “Soon enough,” he said, “the Germans, the Italians and the Spanish would follow our lead” In other words, stuff Fifa.

And that is a possible course of action for Uefa as a body to take. But, you know what, if Bin Hammam, as a candidate proposed radical reform of Fifa and of the game, introducing technology, he’d probably stand even less chance of election than he currently does.

How many turkeys, that you know, vote for Christmas?

Belfast Telegraph


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