Modern technology; what a wonderful progression it has been to all of us, countless advances that have improved our everyday life. It even has ventured into sport, cricket, tennis and rugby just to name a few, improving the quality of decisions made to ensure a more even playing field for all involved. Rugby, tennis and cricket fans love the fact that they can 99% of the time be sure that the correct decision has been made in their sport; of course if the correct decision wasn't made that would be unjust, unfair and unwarranted, wouldn't it? Sports fans should just expect that the game is officiated to a correct standard, is that too much to ask? Surely we should just assume that much? Clearly not. Football has been plagued over recent years by poor, inadequate refereeing decisions that have changed the course of a vast number of matches. In an age where an iPhone can tell you whether or not you should take an umbrella out with you and a train network in China can work just through magnetic forces there’s no wonder footballs fans’ eyebrows have been raised so frequently over comparatively simple technology that is already being used to great effect in many top sports worldwide.
How much longer do we as football fans have to wait for technology to be implemented into the game? There are countless examples that merely with technology the correct decision would have been made and the correct team would have won. Too many times referees and their assistants have made huge errors costing teams vital results. You don’t have to look further than Chelsea against Manchester United last weekend; the game was anything but boring. 5 goals, 2 red cards, a host of poor refereeing decisions and a racism accusation on the games’ referee highlighted football’s increasingly poor reputation. Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez scored the winning goal from what looked like, in real-time, an onside position. Replays have since proven that Hernandez scored the winning goal from a run that started in an offside position. Had technology been in place the goal correctly wouldn't have stood, instead Manchester United claimed all 3 points somewhat unfairly. Not only was the final goal controversial but also Fernando Torres’ sending off, the referee gave Torres a second yellow for simulation but replays have shown that Jonny Evans tackled had indeed made contact with Fernando Torres. Evans admitted contact but claimed that Torres could have stayed up and carried on. This is one of the main issues with technology, how far do you go with it? Do you implement it into every single corner and angle of the pitch or do you leave it at just off-sides and goal-lines. Another issue is that the definition of diving is somewhat loose. Is diving going down without receiving any touch or is diving also making the most out of little contact. I think that diving is purely going down without feeling a touch as that is blatantly cheating, when there is contact I feel that players should carry on but due to the increasing number of players that do go down too easily it is no longer advantageous for players to be honest. It’s a sad time for the game but it’s become all too common, a small touch may not be enough for a grown man to go down but it may well be enough for them to win a penalty and potentially win the game. That’s the reality of the situation. Torres did get a fair amount of contact and at the speed he was running I don’t think it was unreasonable for him to go down. At first sight I thought Evans could have been walking off rather than Torres. Don’t get me wrong, I do not like diving one bit but I think that now we have to accept that some contact is enough contact for a foul to be given.
I also don’t blame referees for this huge controversy. I think their job is becoming increasingly difficult with the sheer number of controversial incidents that they have to officiate. After all they are only humans, they can’t see through players in the way and they can’t review the decision from 5, 6 or even 7 different angles. They have to judge the issue on their first sight, their first instinct which can often be wrong. I admit, I thought Hernandez looked onside; it was only after the second replay that I was proven wrong. The blame, in my opinion, shouldn't be placed on officials; the blame entirely rests with footballs governing body – FIFA. They have the power to bring in technology that would help referees with their impossible task, the power to stop wrong decisions and to keep football as fair as possible. So much rests on modern football that one decision can stop a club making Champions League football or staying in the Premier League, which can have huge consequences for the clubs’ finances. Football has become too large and important to accept constant, incorrect decisions.
Some say that football’s flow and natural appeal would be ruined if technology were to come into play. Technology would take just a couple of minutes a game and considering the amount of fouls, injuries and time-wasting it would have little to no affect on the current flow of the game. Think how many times teams waste countless seconds when they are winning at every opportunity, think how many times players waste minutes and minutes rolling around faking an injury, then think how long it would take for a referee to refer to an official review board to make the correct decision. In context, the small stoppage is, for me, definitely a worthwhile stoppage. Part of me understands why football fans wouldn't want technology, some of the appeal of football is debates but surely you’d rather be debating tactics or the performances of teams rather than how they were unfairly cheated out of a win or a draw. Being on the end of a wrong decision is hard to take, especially when you've put in a 90 minute shift worthy of winning the game, why would football fans want to talk about a wrong decision, like I said I’d rather debate performances and potential than inaccurate decisions.