Instant replay rule for Soccer? Discuss.

[This is a repost from the last world cup. I thought it was even more appropriate today. Enjoy the finals this weekend, everyone!]

(Lady with cool contact lenses via CNN)

Sure, video evidence would slow the game down slightly, but not as much as the luddites would have you believe. The ball is only in play for 60-odd minutes anyway and double-checking, say, a goal-line clearance, penalty or offside appeal would add seconds not minutes. If there were any doubts at all about the TV replays, the referee's original decision would stand.

Introducing technology would also change the risk v reward debate that zips around a player's head: there'd be no incentive to dive for a penalty when someone in the stands could alert the referee, who would soon be waving yellow in your direction. And why pretend to be punched, when in 30 seconds' time you'd be receiving red for play-acting?

Clearly there's a balance to be struck between maintaining the flow of the game and making the right decision but if other sports can do it, so can football. Ultimately, it boils down to what is preferable: a 30-second delay in play, or the Hand of God? Getting it right, or allowing cheats to get away with it? Certainty, or random chance?

Guardian.uk (thanks, dad!)


  1. For anything besides goals, why would the replay need to be instant? In the case of players flopping and pretending to have been decapitated or the Hand of God, why can't FIFA sanction the players after the fact?

  2. I am all for bringing science into the sport. I guess I'm not a purist at all on this front.

    I also think that a computer chip should be put into a football (American football, that is) to more accurately measure where the ball is on the field at all times. Doesn't it seem strange they pull out these antiquated 10-yard line ropes to see if the ball is inches beyond or just below making the down when the networks are high tech enough to put bright yellow and red lines on the field for viewers to see where the line is? If they're going to be exact enough to use a measuring tool to calculate those inches, maybe they should use more than just eyeballing it to determine where the ball should be placed in the first place?!?!

    Technology has changed everything (from researching a paper to cheating on a test) - why should the world of sport be immune?

  3. Bill, after the fact is fine (and sometimes happens today), but when the non-cyborg ref inappropriately awards a penalty kick that leads to a goal, I'd rather they had spent the 20 seconds looking at the jumbotron before making their final decision.

    Tink, yes. I nominate you for FIFA commissioner!

  4. That's the reason that I'd make the after-the-fact penalty much more harsh. The desired effect is to attempt to end the offending behavior.

    I accept that every call cannot be reviewed and I dislike instant replay in almost every implementation that I've ever seen. I accept that at some point some human in-game official will make a mistake. That's not the issue for me. As a long-time sports fan I'm comfortable with the notion of bad calls. I still get irritated when they happen to my team, and I cry out for justice and shout platitudes about holding officials accountable for their errors, but none of that changes the call.

    If the people who are responsible for policing the game really wanted to end the flopping and the fakery and the other anti-competitive behavior they would strictly and harshly punish the offenders. Then the behavior would change. It's been done in many many sports leagues.

    In the NFL a policy was developed to attempt to limit head injuries by making new rules governing hitting above the shoulders and leading with the helmet. The players complained that it went against their training and instinct and that you couldn't legislate the violence out of an inherently violent game. The NFL sent officials to every team to demonstrate the new standards and to help in the transition to the new rules. Now players are suspended and fined for leading with the helmet and hitting a defenseless player whether or not an in-game official saw the hit. A team of NFL officials reviews every single hit in every single play of every single game and hands down penalties that are often harsh and which escalate for recidivists. It hasn't changed the behavior overnight but the difference can be seen in every single game.

    Players will adapt to the rules of the game, even if they don't like them. If they don't they eventually wont be allowed to be players anymore.

  5. Anonymous10/7/10 22:16

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. What if there was an instant replay, but play continued? I don't mean just a post hoc penalty, but say refs in the booth had, oh, fifteen seconds to review a controversial play before rendering a final verdict? This might introduce an interesting, and regular, strategic choice for certainly the team on offense for those seconds.


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