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Archaic FIFA Taints World Cup With Devotion to Human Error

missed goalIn 2004, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) awarded South Africa the privilege of hosting Africa's first World Cup. Based on concerns -- both legitimate and ethnocentric -- over crime, violence and inadequate facilities, some observers immediately proclaimed the tournament doomed. But the World Cup, which is now in its 80th year, is currently enjoying enormous success and international amity, as fans intermingle and jubilantly deafen one another with the already legendary vuvuzelas.

The tournament has undoubtedly been indelibly tainted for a host of nations, though, because of FIFA and its outmoded, ignorant and infuriating devotion to neo-luddite ideology. U.S. fans continue to deservedly bemoan two inexplicable and unjustifiable disallowed goals, one of which occurred when a referee mysteriously waved off a score, even though replays glaringly depicted Slovenian players fouling, hugging and head-locking their U.S. counterparts. During the very next U.S. game, a sideline official negated another goal, an offside ruling that replays -- again -- have clearly disproved.

An opposite but similarly mistaken offside call penalized Mexico during its game against Argentina, when an undeniably out of position Argentine player scored the game's first goal. A visibly distraught Mexican squad did eventually lose 3 to 1, but football aficionados know that goal momentum is a huge part of a team's confidence. Italy also experienced an arguable offside call when officials negated a potential goal during what would wind up being a loss to Slovakia. The unceasing clock of soccer definitely provides exciting commercial-free action, but a quick sojourn to a video monitor, while players rip off their shirts and slide around on the ground, could easily quell the accusations of favoritism and referee ineptitude.

England suffered from a different type of human blunder, a particularly blatant gaffe that effortlessly -- without a break in play -- could have been avoided with existing technology. On Sunday, an English shot ricocheted from the horizontal cross bar well into the goal of nemesis Germany, and then spun back out into play. The referee refused to acknowledge the obvious, would-be equalizer, and a dejected English side subsequently conceded two more goals for a loss.

FIFA could nullify these archaic, heated debates by implementing readily available solutions. Instead of considering instant replay, though, FIFA has actually lamented the technology, saying the replay of the Argentina debacle shouldn't have been broadcast in the stadium. After the introduction of video replay over 50 years ago, seemingly every major athletic league in the world -- including the four primary leagues in the U.S. -- now consults it during certain circumstances. Even Major League Baseball, which prides itself on 150 years of judgment calls from its beleaguered boys in blue, turns to cameras for help in specific events. England's demise could have been delayed, or avoided, with 40-year-old sensor technology that was originally patented for tennis. Going even further, multiple manufacturers already produce sensor-equipped soccer balls that signify goals with lights, sounds and other alerts.

FIFA, though, remains content to reside in sporting's Third World, a disdainful approach which alienates potential fans, particularly in the States, where referees, umpires and officials are held publicly accountable for their actions. In March, FIFA president Joseph Blatter asserted that "at the end of the day [um, don't you mean, "During a game?"] a decision will have to be taken by a human being." He then posed a hypothetical question: "Why remove the responsibility from the referee to give to someone else?" Here's one seemingly obvious reason, Joe. Because that someone else, with the benefit of unquestionable scientific data and an infinite array of HD camera angles, can unequivocally and instantly make the correct call! [From: Reuters]

Tags: FIFA, football, InstantReplay, referee, soccer, sports, top, worldcup, WorldCup2010