Soccer’s World Cup does not need video review

Clearly, England was denied a should-have-counted goal yesterday v. Germany in World Cup Soccer action. But that does not mean video review should be part of this or any future World Cup event. Should the positioning of officials be adjusted or altered? Very likely. Should there possibly be an official or two sitting above the pitch, keeping a close eye on events? That would make sense. But video review should never, ever be part of the World Cup of Soccer.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the non-England goal. It even shows you where the sideline official was standing.YouTube Preview Image

Based on what I’ve seen from South Africa since June 11th, when the World Cup began, there are only two instances in a 90-minute match when video review would even be the slightest bit helpful – to decide if the ball actually crossed the goal line (yesterday, England v. Germany), and to determine if a player in the box was onside/offside (also yesterday, Argentina v. Mexico). Both these determinations can be made by simply having the right people in the right positions. Like basketball, the game of soccer is not played at a fast enough pace to warrant video review.

Hockey and football are two sports where video review makes perfect sense. Both are played at speeds that make it virtually impossible for a group of officials, even if they are in the absolute right position, to make all the correct determinations surrounding the puck or ball. It is probably time, in hockey, to use goal line technology to determine if the puck entered the net, but that’s because it’s so small and can spin in a non-symmetrical manner. A soccer ball is a tad larger – and rounder.

Don Denkinger

The human element was clearly involved when umpire Don Denkinger called Jorge Orta safe in the 1985 World Series. Denkinger now autographs photos of "The Call."

Baseball uses replay, but only in specific situations. They do not use it to determine balls, strikes, safe or out. And that’s the way it should be. As you can see, umpires don’t always get it right, but the human element is, and always has been, a critical part of baseball’s foundation and appeal. And baseball is a perfect example of the saying, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.” They could use replay to determine close plays at first base – and get it absolutely correct every single time – but they don’t. Probably the smartest thing Bud Selig has ever done (and that’s not a very long list).

Jeffrey Maier

On October 9, 1996, 12-year old Jeffrey Maier interfered with Derek Jeter's fly ball. Umpire Richie Garcia erroneously ruled it a home run. Moral of story - officials make mistakes.

Soccer has the same traditions going for it as baseball does – except soccer’s foundation is worldwide. Soccer simply needs to figure out how to get these calls right – using human eyes. Where should they station extra officials outside the pitch? What should those officials be specifically looking for? Really, folks, it’s not that hard, because virtually all of these controversial plays happen inside the penalty area. You simply focus these extra officials there. Video review is not required.

What I find strange is that FIFA has not taken steps to solve these potential problems before now. Soccer is such a low-scoring game that each and every officiating decision around the goal is crucial. And this is the game’s world stage. FIFA has had four long years to figure out how to avoid these fiascos at the World Cup – and they’ve blown it again. Let’s hope they get it right in 2014 in Brazil.

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9 Responses to “Soccer’s World Cup does not need video review”

  1. Shifty says:

    Two goal judges, like hockey. Not expensive. No video required. Solved. Why all the blather…or Blatter.

  2. Big Mouth says:

    Except the difference is that, unlike hockey, the goal judges would actually do something other than take up prime seating and have an itchy trigger finger.

  3. Shifty says:

    On the other hand…why not a fixed offside line, say at the top of the penalty box, where once possession has been established, the attacking players can roam behind the defenders. If the ball originates outside line, then the floating line is in effect. Game will open up, more scoring, more fun for all.

    Cue the traditionalists in 3, 2, 1……

  4. Shifty says:

    re #2: very true. With hockey’s two ref system, the low ref is usually right behind the net. Both right on top of the action and blocking the goal judge’s view.

  5. Big Mouth says:

    Essentially, that’s the same as hockey. You Canadians…you have a one-track sports mind.

  6. Blosby says:

    What they REALLY need is a drama queen detector…of course, the minute the soccer players walked on the field it would go off…

    Maybe that needs some work too.

  7. bernie says:

    Never pictured you as a luddite Big Mouth. I can’t believe you would advocate not using the latest, best and proven technology to get it right. Being stuck in the past and relying on human error to ensure the ‘purity’ of the game is foolish and short sighted.

  8. Shifty says:

    And then they should make the pitch smaller, flood and freeze it, and definitely cut the # of players almost in half…..hmmmmm what else. Oh yes, definitely make contact allowable.

    Now we’re on our way to an exciting sport. :-)

  9. Big Mouth says:

    I am not suggesting we “rely” on human error – simply that we accept it as part of the fabric of the game of soccer and baseball and basketball, etc.

    Watched Wimbledon today, and they use technology to determine if balls are in or out because tennis balls now move to quickly for the human eye to correctly, consistently judge. Soccer balls do not.

    BTW, I would dispute your use of the word “luddite,” but I don’t know what it means.

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