One day I plan to leave university and become a real life person who has a house, a car, a job and in all likelihood an unhappy wife who cheats on me. A particular sticking point for me in all this however is the house. An old Victorian town house in London with a library and leather armchairs that I could make my own would be perfect. I suppose there is an old traditionalist who sits in his armchair at the back of my brain scowling at certain aspects of the modern world. He does not however have the final word when it comes to sport…
There is a balance that needs to be found between respecting tradition and change in sport. At the moment football is struggling to persuade the reactionary lord of the manor to get electricity whilst he insists on lighting the house with candles. Debating goals amongst friends is part of football, but it is a part that would not be missed. The image of Frank Lampard’s goal againstGermanyin 2010 being disallowed is one that sparks outrage inside me even two years later. These events just make the game look like a shambles, human error with regards to goals does not enhance, but merely defiles the sport. Goal-line technology is a necessary change for the better.
Other sports manage to hold tradition whilst opening their doors to change. Football could also learn a thing or two from its estranged brother: Rugby Union. Technology is used to determine tries when the referee is unable. It happens quickly and would certainly take less time in football. Cricket has also benefitted from change both in the structure of the game and in introducing hawkeye technology. Stalwarts of cricket are dismayed to see that the test match is faltering in the shadow of its flashy new brother: twenty20. In a world where people rarely bother to read something longer than 140 characters the Test match is struggling to keep its place. The introduction of technology in both sports and many others to aid referees and umpires has minimised error. In all sports fans demand the highest standards of adjudication, Cricket and Rugby Union responded to these demands and are surviving as a result.
Football has incredible amounts of money riding on every touch of the ball; clubs invest millions in individual men for a taste of victory, sponsorship deals fetch more still whilst FIFA sit in the middle with revenues exceeding one Billion dollars. Football is no longer just a game or a pastime, it is big business.
You wouldn’t run a bank without computers. You wouldn’t light your house with candles. The referee will always remain; however, people don’t watch football for the referee. They watch it for the skill and athleticism of the players, the display of physical and mental exertion, and ultimately the hope of shared victory. The sport is blighted by human error and wrongly disallowed goals. FIFA are warming to the idea but if the margin for error is not closed with the aid of technology, the sport could become an old man in a young man’s world. The world has changed, the game must change with it.