COUNTERPOINT!: Why soccer NEEDS video replay technology

Earlier today, my esteemed colleague Dennis posted his views about why video replay technology should be kept out of soccer. Alas, I politely disagreed, so what to to do? Well, as challenging Dennis to a no-holds-barred cage match is impossible due to stupid laws, I’ve decided to write a riposte here.

Firstly, however, a disclaimer: yes, I’m English. And yes, I know: you must think I’m annoyed over Frank Lampard’s perfectly correct goal against Germany being disallowed. Truth be told, it wasn’t pleasant to see. Yet the young German side was so dominant over the English team, so mobile and thrilling to watch, that in the end little harm was done – we wholly deserved to lose and leave South Africa. Frankly, and not for the first time, ze Germans spanked us. I’m okay with that.

With that said, soccer still needs video replay technology.

Firstly, simply arguing that soccer “isn’t fair” (as both Dennis and FIFA boss Sepp Blatter do) doesn’t mean we should stop trying to make it more fair altogether. Soccer should be about correct decisions (and not human errability), because quite often years of preparations and huge amounts of money can rest on the outcome of top-level matches. Years of preparation and piles of money that can disappear with one human error in less than a second.

If you worked for and invested in something for years, only to have it yanked away from you due to one man’s error at the last second, would you shrug and say “That’s life, it’s not meant to be fair”. I know I wouldn’t. I’d want answers.

I agree with Dennis’s concerns about matches being held up so that video replays can be viewed. Soccer is a fast, flowing, and dynamic game (unless England are playing), and I wouldn’t want to lose that either! But there’s a solution: time-outs. Give each team three time-outs per match, allowing them to stop the game and ask for a replay to be viewed to decide vital decisions. Once they’ve used their three time-outs, that’s it – no more stoppages. Limit their use to goal-line decisions to prevent abuse.

In the vast majority of cases, having an off-pitch official view these replays would take no more than thirty seconds to view and decide upon. Furthermore, time-outs can actually enhance the viewing experience; we’ve already seen how decisions sent to the third umpire in cricket can be wonderfully tense for viewers – was the batsman in or out?!

Other sports have adopted video replay technology with the greatest of ease. In tennis, decisions are reviewed in mere seconds, while rugby has also benefited by making its sport fairer, without losing any of its passion or flair. Not only that, but video replay technology is easy and relatively cheap to deploy; it’s worth remembering that FIFA, a non profit-making organisation, made a $196 million surplus in 2009.

So that’s why at the very highest level – World Cup finals, the Champions League final, a handful of key events – every measure should be taken to prevent matches from being decided in error. Otherwise, in the long-term, it could be soccer’s credibility as a sport that is most at danger.

Dennis, I acknowledge your views good sir, but I’m going to have to respectfully disagree on this occasion!

Read the other side of this debate HERE.

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