Football, arguably the most watched sport in the world and to many, more of a lifestyle than just a sport; It’s a culture to some, it’s more than just the ball and the players to others, to an extent it’s a peacemaker, a common ground for factions. It’s in all senses a Beautiful Game.
The game as we know it has always been human up until now. It’s has always been about the players and the referees and the fans. Changes have mostly been personnel-wise, from substitute numbers to duration of the game and the rules of the game and application of the rules. Officiating and playing football have been largely human. The human feel to football has endeared it to fans worldwide. There’s that margin for human error that has made football so relatable to everyone; Talk about missed fouls, handballs overlooked, offsides not given, goals cancelled for different reasons, the ball not crossing the line, cards given to the wrong players and other calls. These have brought talking topics and controversies for the fans and pundits alike.
It’s no secret that football itself is losing a bit from these errors. Football is becoming more and more lucrative on a seasonal basis, this essentially has warranted an improvement in the accuracy of decisions. We’re talking about important calls that can change the complexion of a game and even end up costing the teams involved millions of euros. Players have been known to play on the human nature of referees by conning them into giving fouls through diving and even getting away with handballs by blindsiding the referees. Honesty is being lost and what’s really the point in loving a dishonest game.
Take a good look around other sport even those with much less following than football, one thing cuts across them all: The subtle presence of technology. American football, Basketball, Tennis, Cricket, Athletics are all invested to different levels in technology. We’re in an era where human precision and accuracy is a bit inferior to machine accuracy. Not disrespecting officials in sports but in all honesty, there are calls that cannot be made by humans accurately within that short period of time. We have a blindspot, we also don’t have the luxury of replaying scenarios in our minds vividly, we also don’t have a totalitarian view of events going on in the field of play. These sports have accepted the facts and have done the needful thing: Involve technology in a way that it minimises these errors and still doesn’t take away the human feel to sports substantially. Tennis is a good example. The limiting of the number of challenges by players puts the majority of the decisions in the hands of the officials while still giving room for the use of technology in cases of controversial decisions. For the first time in a long while, Football is lagging behind in something so needful.
It’s only natural for people to resist change, more so when the change threatens everything we’ve loved about football and all that gives us talking topics after games. But for what it’s worth, we can’t ignore the need for improved accuracy in decision making as these vital decisions affect more than just the direction of games. They have to be right, almost always and that can only be achieved with the help of technology. For people who feel the sport will become boring, there’s a lot to football in terms of entertainment and talking topics that doesn’t involve decisions taken.
FIFA (to my relief) and Gianni Infantino have finally decided to do the needful. Which is involve technology in decision making. With the level of tech available in this present era, it’s a shame that football had to wait till 2016 to really implement the use of technology in assisting referees. Admittedly Goal technology came before now but that’s very limited and it’s also just being adopted by most associations and Federations. While admittedly, there’s a long way to go before technology will be accepted by everyone, it’s great to see the beautiful game evolving and improving where needed.