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Was Harry Kewell right to roast the ref in the Australia Brazil game? And are FIF deliberately not using technology because it may reveal lousy referring decisions.

FIFA will not consider using video evidence or other goal-line technology to determine if a goal has been scored or whether a ref has fouled up in awarding yellow cards until it is 100 percent reliable, FIFA spokesman Markus Siegler said on Monday. So let me get this straight. The World Cup has millions of RFID embedded tickets, biometric face scanning, on-the-fly fingerprinting and ASENDRO robots, but they won’t use video game technology because it isn’t perfected yet?

The issue was raised again after TV replays suggested France should have taken a 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute of Sunday’s match against South Korea at the Zentralstadion in Leipzig.

Patrick Vieira’s header looked well over the line despite goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae’s efforts to claw it away.

Mexican referee Benito Archundia waved play on and the goal did not stand. The teams eventually drew their Group G match 1-1 leaving France’s progress at the finals in the balance.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA experimented with new technology last year when they used a ball with a microchip in it at the world under-17 championship in Peru. If that experiment had proved faultless the same technology would have been used at the World Cup, but Siegler reiterated FIFA’s policy again on Monday.

“The experiment with the chip ball in Peru was ‘not bad’ but it was not 100 percent conclusive,” he said.

“We are open about reviewing technological support, but its introduction depends on a system being developed that is 100 percent reliable, otherwise we will not use it.”

FIFA have continuously refused to allow video evidence to be used to determine whether a goal is scored or not.

The governing body’s president Sepp Blatter maintains that football must have a “human face” and that “human error” by referees and players alike is part of the game. FIFA are continually working with their various partners on technological advances but, for the time being, none are being considered for use at the World Cup.

 referees committee assured everyone that this World Cup would see ‘the best match officials ever’. His boss, Joseph Blatter, speaking on Day 3 of the tournament, told reporters he was ‘pleased with their performances’. 

But some now argue that there is growing evidence to suggest that statements of this kind may have been a little rash.

The latest controversy took place during Sunday night’s 1-1 draw between France and South Korea.

In the 30th minute of the Group G match in Leipzig, with France already leading 1-0, Patrick Viera powered in a header from close range which the French were convinced had ended up in goal.

According to FIFA’s version of the incident, quoted in its official website, “the scrambling (South Korean goalkeeper) Lee Woon Jae managed to keep the ball out before it had crossed the line.”

Television replays, however, clearly showed that the ball had indeed crossed the line and that Mexican referee Benito Archundia should have allowed the goal.

Two days earlier, during Argentina’s 6-0 demolition of Serbia and Montenegro in Gelsenkirchen, Argentinian defender Roberto Ayala was also denied a similar goal, but in this case televised images failed to clear beyond doubt whether the ball had indeed crossed the line.

Both episodes could have been settled by so-called “smart balls”, which contain a microchip that sends out a radio signal to referees whenever the ball crosses the touchline.

But the technology involved is still at the testing stage and has so far been judged to be “unreliable” by both FIFA and Adidas, the makers of the official World Cup ball.

Other criticism is of the allegedly excessive use of yellow and red cards at this World Cup.

In the same France versus South Korea match, French playmaker Zinedine Zidane was shown the yellow card for apparently walking into an opponent during the dying minutes of the match.

The decision looked harsh. And because it was Zidane’s second booking in the tournament, it ended up preventing France’s all-time greatest from playing in what could well be his last World Cup appearance against Togo on Friday, the day of his 34th birthday.

The man who has the biggest axe to grind with the World Cup’s referees is probably US coach Bruce Arena.

The US had two players sent off in the space of just five minutes by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda during last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Italy.

Italy’s Daniele De Rossi had earlier been shown the red card for a vicious elbow into the face of Brian McBride, making that game only the fourth in World Cup history in which three players were sent off.

Arena was understandably angry after the match. But perhaps less comprehensible was the reaction from German football supremo Franz Beckenbauer.

Speaking after the match in Kaiserslautern, Beckenbauer told reporters: “This is football, not chess. What do they want – players to stop fighting for the ball?” he asked.

Is it possible that the Germany 2006 host had momentarily forgotten that FIFA has declared war on any form of dangerous tackles, elbowing and unsporting behaviour?

The list of controversial episodes could be extended almost indefinitely.

Ghana were denied a clear penalty against Italy; Japan’s goal against Australia was marred by a foul on the Australian goalkeeper; and Swiss referee Massimo Busacca should never have awarded a penalty to Spain and sent off Ukrainian defender Vladislav Vashchuk for what was judged to be a last-man foul on Fernando Torres that in any case took place outside the penalty box.

World Cups have always had their fair share of controversy, of course.

Back in 1966, a highly controversial goal in which the ball apparently failed to cross the goal line allowed England to beat West Germany in the final in London’s Wembley Stadium. And who can tell whether Argentina would still have won the World Cup, 20 years later, had Diego Maradona’s infamous “handball” against England been disallowed.

Just like players and coaches, referees can and should be allowed to make mistakes. And without a little bit of controversy, it wouldn’t be a proper World Cup after all.   


 

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