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Commentary: Soccer tourneys need technology

BY ADAM WESLEY | JUNE 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Euro 2012 tournament suffered a less-than inspiring start, but it has kicked up a couple gears since then. The games have gotten more entertaining, the goals have been spectacular, and Kasey Keller is no longer in the ESPN commentary box.

Soccer fans everywhere rejoice.

One thing, however, threatens to overshadow the many standout performances and compelling storylines of the tournament: the Union of European Football Associations.

Europeean soccer's governing body is ruining everything.

It is proving, once again, that it's completely out of touch with reality. UEFA refuses to introduce a form of goal-line technology that would allow for the resolution of controversial, game-changing refereeing calls.

Suc as the one during the England versus Ukraine match on June 19.

England defender John Terry's valiant efforts weren't enough. The ball crossed the line before he was able to hack it to "safety." None of the match officials called the goal. Or the Ukranian offside in the buildup. The Ukrainians went berserk, English kept playing; they were all-too-familiar with this situation. The English were denied a goal in similar circumstances against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

A team of five match officials — including the two recently added "goal-line" refs because of the prevalence of bad goal-line calls — cannot possibly see every moment of every play from every angle. It's just not plausible.

But blaming the referees for the wrong decisions is naïve.

Referees aren't all-seeing, all-knowing demigods. They're human. Players make mistakes — such as when Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo inexplicably missed against Denmark. But when referees make errors, the entire reputation of the game is called into question.

Bad refereeing decisions pollute every major soccer tournament. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw Argentina's Carlos Tevez score a goal that was blatantly offside, and England's Frank Lampard was denied a goal that clearly crossed the line. The millions of people watching around the world and even the fans in the stadium could see within seconds that the officials got the decision wrong. The ref was the only person left in the dark.

Almost every major sport has some form of review process except soccer, the most-watched sport worldwide. Give the refs some help.

People have been calling for "goal-line" technology similar to the review system currently used in tennis. The technology vastly improved tennis by eliminating the possibility of bad line-judge calls.

Even longtime opponent of this technology, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, reversed his opposition following the controversy at the 2010 World Cup.

The Euro tournament mistakes have players, coaches, and pundits renewing their pleas for implementation.

UEFA President Michel Platini has consistently opposed such technology, even following the wrong call in Ukraine's match. Platini told reporters in Warsaw afterwards that he opposes it because he fears a "slippery slope" of when it would be used, ultimately ruining the flow of the game.

This is nonsensical for two reasons.

The flow of a soccer game has already been irreversibly and unforgivably disrupted when a team scores a legitimate goal and it does not count. This is a far more serious and infuriating disruption than a brief pause to look at a replay. Also, when introduced, the technology can and should be limited to use in very specific and vital instances. This is easy to achieve as UEFA can implement it however they see fit.

Platini, you are the last man standing.

Sit down, and stop ruining it for everybody.


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