Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's your interpretation of the offside rule?

Offside in footballImage via WikipediaAs technology becomes more of an integral part in our lives, we take more for granted, expect more and we want it to be faster. The younger generation, born into the digital world, not only take technology for granted, they don't even know otherwise. My daughter has a mobile phone and can access the Internet which when I was a child wasn't even known. This comparison shows how far we have come in such a short space of time.

The advances we are making are incredible and have allowed us to move forward. Why then isn't football adapting to recognise the advantages that technology provides and truly become a modern game?

Frequently we have referee decisions that influence the results of matches; disallowed goals, players diving, offside rulings, off-the-ball incidents etc. With the pressure surrounding clubs, the money involved and the constant media scrutiny analysing form, match officials are increasingly adding to the problems surrounding clubs.

UEFA President Michael Platini's vision of the footballing future is to introduce behind-the-goal officials to compliment the traditional man in the middle and his assistants. Why?! Imagine the scenario in an important fixture and the officials all have conflicting views, how will they decide draw straws? It has reached the point where the introduction of technology is essential to move forward.

Personally I feel football could make significant advances by embracing the technology used in grand-slam tennis. Firstly the challenge system I believe would give teams the ability - at least the captain - to challenge a decision should they feel that the official has interpreted an instance incorrectly. Allocating a preset number like the three challenges per set available in tennis would prevent this from being abused. Likewise should a team surround the official the ability to challenge should be revoked. Details from Wikipedia -
In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to implement instant replay reviews of calls, using Hawk-Eye. Available only on the stadium courts (Ashe and Armstrong), each player was allowed two challenges per set plus one additional challenge during a tiebreak but was not penalized with the loss of a challenge if it was upheld. The USTA announced that starting in 2008, each player will be given three challenges per set with an extra challenge if the set goes to a tiebreak.

Once a challenge is made, the official review (a 3-D computer simulation based on multiple high-speed video cameras) is shown to the players, umpires, and audience on the stadium video boards and to the television audience at the same time. The system is said to be accurate to within five millimeters.

Hawk-Eye is another computer system that could be introduced, especially with the furore that often surrounds goal line decisions. The most blatant instance for this I have seen was when Tottenham were denied victory at Old Trafford as a Pedro Mendes shot which crossed the line was not given. I remember I was at Stamford Bridge that same night and we were in disbelief when the goal was disallowed.
Details from Wikipedia -
Hawk-Eye is a computer system used in cricket, tennis and other sports to visually track the path of the ball and display a record of its actual path as graphic image. In some sports, like tennis, it is now part of the adjudication process. It is also able to predict the future path of a ball.[Source]
I am interested to know what you think so if you are a regular reader or come across my blog by chance, how do you feel the beautiful game can adapt?

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