The World Cup and Instant Replays

Well, I’ll admit it. I haven’t been doing much the past few days. OK. Make that past few weeks. Since my feet have been off the concrete early a.m., I’ve managed more and more to plant my buttocks firmly in the easy chair by mid-day. And then as far as subsequent real-world activities go, to quote the philosopher Porky Pig: “That’s all folks.” Yet I have an excuse. I enjoy watching the World Cup matches — even with the U.S. now kaput.

And I guess there are important matters that I should be addressing from my post as a pajama-clad citizen journalist. For instance:

  • Confirmation hearings for SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan began yesterday. And this is great theater, with the Republicans huffing and puffing, but my sense is that it is going to be kind of ho-hum. Just sayin’.
  • And Paul Krugman, writing in the NYT, is signaling the possibility of a third depression. Let’s hope he’s wrong. That he’s just being a Gloomy Gus.

Oh well.

Since I can’t get worked up enough to lift my vuvuzela and give a toot about the next justice of the Supreme Court or a coming depression, I guess I’ll  opine about something that has been dominating my little world lately: the use — or not — of instant replays in World Cup matches.

I expect that instant replays are inevitable.

Here’s from George Vecsey, writing in the NYT, “An Obvious Case for Instant Replay“:

Instant replay arrived in world soccer on Sunday. It became absolutely essential when the field officials totally missed the shot from England’s Frank Lampard that hit the crossbar and bounced close to two feet inside the goal.

The referee and the linesman were fully 25 yards away, but television cameras instantly told everybody around the world that the ball had gone into the goal and that England should have tied the score 38 minutes into the first half of its Round of 16 match.

The blown call did not change history, because Germany pummeled England, 4-1. But the glaring mistake was a reminder that soccer goals — more than baseball home runs or football touchdowns or even hockey goals — are too precious to be squandered. Those three sports now have some version of instant replay in North America. It’s time for soccer, too — at least where television and big bucks are present. And surely by the World Cup, next time, in 2014, in Brazil.

And FIFA President Sepp Blatter is quoted in the NYT this morning as saying that there would be a renewed discussion about “goal-line technology.”

That to me makes sense — have a system in place to sort out the disputes about goals.

But I hope that football — as the world knows it — doesn’t become like American football. American football games now take forever — with just about every decision on the field being reviewed via video replay. The result: far more TV timeouts than anything even closely resembling real action.

One of the reasons I like watching soccer is that there are few interruptions — save the flopping of  some of the players and the amazing amount of time it takes to substitute a player, especially at the end of the game when your team is behind. Oops. I digress.

So I expect we’ll see instant replays at the next World Cup in four years.

And let’s hope FIFA can do that without destroying the essence of the game.

That should be the goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal.


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