Football remains in the stone age

By Walter Broeckx

Tomorrow the IFAB (International Football Association Board),  the committee that is deciding upon the rules in football will have a meeting on Wednesday. The meeting will be held in Cardiff.

And on the agenda of the meeting is only one item. And this item is to study and eventually approve the demand of different Fifa members to be able to put 2 extra refs in their competitions in the next two seasons. So if the IFAB approves this change in laws it could be possible that in the EPL we have 2 extra refs standing near the goal to help the refs with the pulling, the holding and the wrestling in the penalty area.

We all have seen this in the Europa League in the last season. And to be honest I don’t know what I have to think about it. It is something that you could put older refs in who are experienced but who have passed the maximum age imposed by Uefa and Fifa for international games. That is if those refs are willing to do this. But it is a position where you don’t need much physical strength as most of the time you are standing still or just walk a few yards from left to right.

So I am not against it but I think that Fifa or Uefa should come in the open with some clear rules about this. What is he allowed to do and what not. Can he signal a penalty offence to the ref and does the ref have to follow it or not. Now it is rather in a somewhat twilight zone and nobody knows exactly what they could, should or must do.

But you will probably remember that one of the reasons that Blatter had rejected the idea of technological assistance to help the refs was that the game is played according to the same rules all over the world and at all levels, and this was the reason why football was so popular. I previously wrote (after Blatter said this) that he was talking nonsense as the game is not played in the same way all over the world now. But can you expect from the president of Fifa to be is aware of this? He should be but we are talking about Blatter so I think it is normal that he doesn’t know how football is being played at lower levels or youth level.

But by introducing these two extra refs as a result not all games will be played according to the same rules. A notion of which Blatter was so proud.

Most of us will also remember that in the world cup we had two major incidents where the referees made a mess of it. The not given goal from England against Germany and the blatant offside goal from Argentina against Mexico. And after those incidents at the world cup Fifa-president Joseph Blatter said: “that it would be ridiculous to not reopen the discussion about technological assistance to help the refs after these incidents.”

And we can also remember that at the start of this year Blatter was in favour of technological assistance all of a sudden but only to change his mind a few months later when IFAB  voted against it. He suddenly was against it as well. In fact he changes his mind more than often on this subject. Maybe together with putting on a new shirt I think.

And now on the meeting they will not even talk about technological assistance. So the only conclusion I can come up with is that Sepp Blatter is a ridiculous person and Fifa is a ridiculous organisation. He himself has used the words ridiculous and his own words come back to bite him.

So apart from in some leagues having two extra refs standing next to the field, nothing will change. And some things will be left to humans and their shortcomings. The fact that a ball crossing the goal line is up to the human eye will keep the result sometimes open to some teams being done injustice. I deeply regret this and I think that Fifa can change the rules just for world cups, European championships and introduce the use of goal line technology at least.

Fifa and Uefa earn a lot of money in these tournaments and all they have to do is to put a few extra devices in the goals and it will be clear for everyone if the ball has passed the line or not. The refs will be able to concentrate on dealing with the fouls, and this task is already difficult enough, and off sides.

But that is not the way Fifa want it. Almost every sport in the world has moved on and has welcomed any possible technological help on their fields. And if I hear the fans and the players from those sports, like tennis, cricket and rugby most of them are very happy with this. But Fifa want football to stay in the stone age period. And with people leading this organisation who are from that period, what can you expect.


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10 Replies to “Football remains in the stone age”

  1. To be fair towards FIFA the next meeting was scheduled before the WC and the video tech agenda will be on the next meeting in ?october?. But if they impose the 4th ref I highly doubt they will use video tech aswell. I am not pro Fifa or anything like that. Video tech should have been introduced a long time ago.

  2. This sounds to me like the equivalent of the ice hockey “goal judge”, who sits in a little booth behind the goal and flips on a red light when the puck crosses the line. This seems like the minimum amount of authority an extra ref could get, but it would still catch goals like England’s against Germany or a clear goal against the US in the Confederations Cup last summer.

    From there, the extra ref could also be asked to rule on fouls, cards for diving / simulation, delays of game, handballs, and the like, but I’m just not sure how an official on the end line could see offsides clearly, except in the most extreme cases like Argentina’s goal against Mexico.

  3. The idea that you play exactly the same way at all standards of football is complete nonsense.

    95% of tennis players don’t see a grass court in their life. I played a lot as a boy and it was only due to going to Uni in Cambridge that I saw one. I wasn’t accepted there because of my tennis prowess, you understand! 95% of English players don’t see a clay court either, unless they go on holiday to the Mediterranean (the only one I played on was in Croatia when I was 11). Despite this, huge numbers of Europeans happily play on clay all their life. It doesn’t seem to affect enjoyment, competence or the rules at Wimbledon or Flushing Meadow, does it?

    I can’t imagine that 99% of football players get to play on a lawn like the Emirates and as they’re not playing for millions of pounds in prize money, goal line technology is less essential (although I’m sure the Conference might be interested in it if FIFA allowed it……) It really isn’t too hard to say: ‘as you get better, you get more officials and decision-making tools for officials’, is it? I mean, at Wimbledon you get a chair umpire, about 8 line judges, a team of ball boys/girls and Hawk eye plus a detection gadget for a let cord. I had an umpire for the odd tennis final, called my own lines (I found that some french boys needed to see the optician, but there we are…….I guess Arsene has the same gene), somehow remembered the score correctly and didn’t change the balls each 9 games. In fact, it was rather a treat to get a new set of tennis balls for finals and, for those of you who don’t play, new balls fly faster and hence are better for blasting aces but less good for rasping low balls (they tend to fly long), whereas old ones lose their fluff and start doing horrendous things like Jabulani balls do. I don’t think anyone would suggest all the Wimbledon officialdom for a Middlesex league match mid-week, would you?

    What next: suggest that a woman out dating again after a failed marriage should be kept under the wing of her father like a 16 year old innocent?

  4. I will add that in the NHL (hockey), there is a goal judge as well as a video replay official who reviews each goal to ensure it was legal.

    The amount of bad calls resulting from this system, considering how many technicalities/exceptions exist, how big the goalie is, how small the puck is, is astronomically low.

    A video replay system in football would likely eliminate every bad call. Of course, I’m assuming the criminal gambling elements really don’t want this system in place.

  5. I quite liked the notion that football in all leagues across the world was played to the same rules with the same sort of officiating.

    There have been experiments before – I remember that in the Conference (I think) (which is now called the 5th step – meaning the 5th league down) one year we had an experiment which abolished throw ins and instead had free kicks.

    But that was just an experiment, and I thought that the Europa League thing was an experiment, which if successful would mean that all league would have the extra officials.

    It contrasted with a sport we watched in Cardiff last year called Ultimate. My description of this sport is going to be naff – but believe me it is a brilliant game. The simplest explanation of it is a team game played with frisbee type discs, and you have to throw the disc into an end zone and have it caught by a member of your team.

    The point about this game is that it has no ref at all. There’s a wiki article on the sport if you want to know more, but it was extraordinary to see a very fast moving competitive game played with no ref.

    Shows it can be done.

  6. Rhys: I think you are overdoing the inductive reasoning a bit. To value the fact that all football leagues play to the same rules and then to generalise outwards from there to suggest that someone in favour of such a position would want all aspects of life to follow set rules needs a phrase of its own.

    Reverse engineered inductive reasoning

    is the best I can come up with at 12 minutes past 10 having just watched the second of the three Bourne films (and jolly good it is too)

  7. If you go, on any Sunday (during the footie season) to most parks in England you may find the odd game in progress. I promise you that there will be only one ref on the pitch no linesmen. so for those at the top end of the game to worry about continuity is B******s. I hope for more officials in the pro game, plus they all should be able to book and send players from the field and all officials should be able to enter the field of play at their discretion not at the refferees beckoning.

  8. Of course the game is played using the same rules all over the world, it’s the facilities (for players, supporters, media and officials)that differ hugely at almost every level in almost every country.
    Not every match has 4 officials all linked by sophisticated comms with an observer in the stand.
    It’s absolute rubbish that we get from Fifa time after time,and still we continue to put muppets like Blatter and Platini in charge at the highest level. Why is there such low levels of accountability in football?

  9. The refs missig a goal now and then doesn’t really seem like a big problem. That is, if you compare it to all the other misstakes they do during a game. Difference is that the many small misstakes often evens out in the course of a hole game. I think IFAB should focus on other things. Like harder punishment for players and clubs that tries to break the legs of our players. Or explaining to us how the extra time is calculated. Also, something needs to be done about Man Utd’s home advantage. If the teams that went there got a fair chance, then maybe they could drop points now and then. Teams might as well do like Wolves and send the reverves. No matter how well you play, you’ll get robbed.

  10. In every major league the technology is already in place, the TV camera, and the 4th official watching it.
    I suspect thet they already communicate with the ref (albeit on the quiet, eg Kaka, Zizu sendings offs)
    Just come out of the closet, ref makes a sign of a square in the air like rugby and 20 secs later Robert is your mother’s brother.
    As for extra time, set a clock to run down for minutes play continues and stop it for injuries and subs.


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