01 July, 2010

World Cup Goal Review: A Modest Proposal

Officiating at the FIFA World Cup has always been the subject of controversy. At right we see Diego Maradona's infamous 1986 goal against England which was, he claimed, scored "un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios". Well, it's not God's hand we see on the ball in Figure 1, nor Maradona's head either.

In this year's World Cup we had goals and non-goals called wrongly against several teams including the USA and England. And so, despite my earlier paean to the sanctity of officiating mistakes in baseball, I hereby come out in favor of video review of goals in championship soccer matches. Look, these guys fight like crazy for ninety minutes and maybe--just maybe--one of the two teams on the field manages to score a goal. The referees need to get a goal or no goal call exactly right, and they need a little technological help to do it.

Here, then, is my Modest Proposal for video review of goals in soccer:

1) Cameras managed by FIFA (not the TV networks) are fixed at each end, with a clear view of each goal line and the penalty area.

2) Any player on the field may make a challenge to the referee's decision to either award or disallow a goal. This is the only kind of play that can be challenged.

3) The player must give grounds for the challenge that can be absolutely confirmed or dismissed by viewing the replay-- e.g. that the ball did or did not cross the line, that a player was or was not offside, that a handball did or did not occur. A foul called or not called by the referee is not subject to review, and no fouls can be charged or forgiven based on video review.

4) The head referee views the video, and may elect to reverse his prior call. His final decision cannot be appealed, on or off the field.

5) If on review the referee does not reverse the call, the player who challenged is automatically booked with a yellow card. The referee has the option to show a red card and send the player off if he feels the challenge was frivolous.

6) Time spent on a goal review is added to stoppage time.

Simple, eh? FIFA is welcome to contact me any time via this website. Your comments are also welcome.

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