A Cynical Welcome To The New Rules
Today’s news was a welcome sight for once, as two major issues plaguing the game appeared to be on their way to being eradicated. Firstly, FIFA announced that next month’s England vs Belgium friendly will also see the second round of testing for their goal-line Hawkeye technology. If I can get past my cynical alter-ego for a moment, this is undoubtedly a positive step, and one that parallels the ever-increasing importance of football. Though I bet they chose the England game because we England fans are still pissed. (Oh, couldn’t get past him after all…)
In a sport where managers and players can have their futures decided by how far over the line the ball goes, it is simply inexcusable that we do not have 100% accuracy with shots that are clearly over the line. Jose Mourinho, to this very day, contests Liverpool’s Luis Garcia ambiguous goal against Chelsea in the 2005 Champions League semi-final; if you believe that the ball did not go over the line, Hawkeye technology at the time could have seen Chelsea lift the Champions League trophy seven years earlier.
You can understand Sepp Blatter’s concerns regarding Hawkeye to an extent; depending on how long the replay takes to…well, replay, the game could see flow and momentum halted. Momentum is key, and even when a team puts in a poor performance, one goal scored against the run of play can often generate enough momentum to lead to another goal. Who’d want that momentum delayed? But then, there’s the flip side. If Sky can have a replay ready in about five seconds, if five seconds from that, my friend can receive a text from me complaining about what a knob the ref is for missing [insert offence here], I would imagine that a FIFA-funded state-of-the-art technology can do it a lot faster. And even if not, can we not wait ten seconds? Watching Didier Drogba repeatedly fall against Barcelona suggests yes. Yes, we can wait ten seconds. Many times.
As well as that, if Blatter’s against it, then I’m all for it. Bring on the tech.
Secondly, the Professional Footballers’ Association have announced plans to make racism on the football field a sackable offence. Glad to see football catching up. In an occupation where SHOOTING SOMEONE WITH AN AIR RIFLE isn’t enough to warrant a sacking, and impending criminal charges in court doesn’t stop an England call-up (sorry, Chelsea fans), we clearly need to state what is a sackable offence. No racism, guys. I think firearms and common assault is still okay though. Still don’t think I’ll try those at work though.
Sarcasm aside, this is also a positive step. Racism in football has made an ominous return recently, with football club tribalism seemingly overruling common civil behaviour, and at the very least, such a ruling officially takes out any grey areas regarding racism on the field. This means there can be no semantic ambiguity or potential comebacks for anyone found guilty of racism. The worrying matter is that the power to sack the player will inevitably lie with the player’s club, and considering that players such as Marlon King and until recently, Ross McCormick – both convicted for serious offences, particularly in the case of the latter – being given routes back into the game by clubs, it’s unlikely that a club will sack a star player if he racially abuses someone. Still, progress in changing the rules in this game is still progress.
So, here’s to the new rules. Let’s hope all the effort to get this far wasn’t in vain.