The beautiful game needs to embrace video technology. The atrocious penalty awarded to Brisbane Roar in the dying stages of the A-League grand final leave no room for argument.
Brisbane striker Besart Berisha’s contrived tumble in the penalty area again shone the spotlight brightly on the administrators’ inability to grasp the importance of video technology.
The incident on Sunday night has further undermined a fragile Football Federation Australia (FFA), whose credibility is falling further behind Australia’s other footballing codes.
Had referee Jarred Gillett been able to refer the penalty decision to another match official viewing a replay of the incident, as millions of viewers at home were able to do from their couches seconds after the incident occurred, then the correct decision could have been made.
The A-League, along with the FFA, could have been spared the embarrassment of an incident that has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Perth Glory fans and fans of football in this country alike.
For too long the FFA, and other football federations around the world, have hid behind FIFA (the game’s international governing body) and its outdated belief that video technology would ruin the game.
FIFA’s bone of contention when it comes to video technology – a word which they attempt to sidestep even more enthusiastically than ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’ within the sport – is centred around a theory that by getting more decisions right (through technology) we would de-humanise the sport, and fans would have fewer talking points after the game.
Countering this argument is that there would still be officials and 22 players. All the drama, passion and skill would remain – just with a few minutes extra in matches to ensure that the correct decisions were made.
And instead of debating incorrect refereeing decisions, fans could instead turn their discussions to tactical formations, amazing goals and brilliant saves, of which there are a plethora.
The other argument made by video technology deniers is that it would disrupt the flow of a match and spoil it as a spectacle.
Obviously no one wants to see a game based on fluidity constantly interrupted, but realistically games are held up anyway because contentious decisions often lead to on-pitch confrontations (which we saw on Sunday night).
The referee has to stop the game to take further action to punish any dissent or violent conduct which inevitably ensues.
FIFA’s opposition has begun to soften slightly, having agreed to trial the use of goal-line technology at the Club World Cup in Japan in December. Administrators in this country need to step up to the plate by introducing video technology for all penalty, offside, and goal-line referee decisions.
It is time for the FFA to stop hiding behind FIFA. Yes, FIFA are the most powerful sporting body in the world, but the FFA and the A-League are losing the fight for sporting credibility as they seeks to establish football as one of the top codes in this country. T
his is currently not possible as the A-League brings a knife to the gun-fight with the other big three competitions – NRL, Super Rugby and even the AFL – that now all utilise varying forms of video technology.
These competitions, along with sports such as cricket and tennis (not to mention a host of other global sports), utilise the technology available to them because they want to assist their match officials in striving to ensure key decisions that can turn games, tournaments, or even seasons are made correctly.
Given the nature of the sport of football, where a single goal is enough to win or lose the contest, it is even more confusing that the game’s administrators have not jumped on the video bandwagon.
Video technology is ready and available and proven to be robust. Tests have shown it can work, so why aren’t we using it in this country?
It is clear that the FFA, like most national administrators around the world, is frightened of upsetting FIFA. But what have we really got to lose by being a leader on this issue? It’s not like FIFA can take the hosting of a World Cup away from us.
The FFA can no longer afford to sit on their hands. They must take a leadership role – ironically by following the vision shown by our country’s other football code administrators – and introduce video technology in next year’s A-League.