Saturday, December 10, 2011

Goal-line Technology Changes Soccer Forever


This could be the first step in the Americanization of the game.  Probably, few people would be willing to call it that, but some purists feel the pull.  It's like a riptide over the Atlantic Ocean.

And, yet, other purists say they're ready for it.

The announcement was made this week by FIFA President, Sepp Blatter.  He stated that video replay could be used as soon as the 2012-13 season and will be used for sure in the 2014 World Cup.  The technology would either confirm or deny goals and non-goals.

For the most part, the proclamation for its use has been met with benign resistance.  Basically, most fans, supporters, players, coaches and executive are ready for the change.  People want to know for sure if the ball crosses the threshold or not.

No more ambiguity allowed.  These plays are too important to be human-only determinations.

Having instant replay become a part of the game is a huge deal, but for Soccer it's a much bigger deal than for other sports.

What no one is talking about is, what's next to be changed about the game.  This is the single most important item to take from all of this.

Unlike other popular sports, hockey, baseball, basketball and football, which are all using instant replay in some regard to help in getting referee calls correct, this is modern world Soccer's first ever tinkering with intentionally stopping the game for any reason.

Does this change to the game open the floodgates?  Purists will no longer have the argument that Soccer is a sport with constant fluidity, no stoppage and has always been this way attitude.

This replay system will stop the game for sure, whether the clock stops or not still hasn't been answered. (One would think that there will be some communication to broadcasters and timekeepers at what point the clock is stopped.  In Soccer, only the referee keeps the time to the exact second.)

There are not likely to be that many reviews, as the ball crossing the goal-line threshold controversially, is not a play that happens often.

But, the initiative is set.


What comes later is not known, but it would seem likely something will come later.  In baseball, controversial homeruns or non-homeruns were the first items to be reviewed.  This upcoming season, baseball will include catches or non-catches, for review.

Will offsides goals in Soccer be the next up for review?

There have been non-FIFA sanctioned water breaks for some leagues throughout the world during the hottest time of the season.  Both MLS and the Mexican First Division have given players up to 5 minutes of time to refresh and replenish while playing in super warm conditions.

Interestingly, in those matches where water breaks were given in the Mexican league matches, Mexican advertisers tried to take advantage of the stoppage in play.  Commercials aired during the water breaks.

Advertising Soccer is different than for other popular American sports.  Most in-game advertising in Soccer is courtesy of sponsorships or corner displays with logos.  But, if American advertisers see an opening, like a disputed goal that needs review, they will try to use their influence in an imposing way. So, will this mean in-game commercials during replay reviews?

This first official stoppage of play in Soccer will change the game forever.  This is not an injury, red-card or goal celebration.  Time will tell where Soccer goes from here.  Hopefully, other common-sense changes won't take another 50 years to see.

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