by Noel Draper
A while ago I wrote a piece for the Cutter where I disagreed with the clamour for goal line technology to be introduced. I pointed out that this beautiful game, from an impromptu game in the local park to a professional fixture in a swanky stadium, should be the same the world over. I also pointed out that it should be played with the same ball, on the same size pitch with the same rules and regulations otherwise it wouldn’t be the same for everyone who played it. Points made and everyone can move on to something else to moan about. Yes?
Well no, no they can’t, because of what happened over the weekend. A goal was given that shouldn’t have been, a player fell over a foot and won a penalty. and a player got tripped and was booked for diving. In light of these happenings the television pundits went into verbal overdrive with ITV showing one incident repeatedly after the game had finished. So, discussion over, let’s introduce the technology and get on with watching and playing football. Yes again?
Well no again because what if I told you that all of the weekend’s talking points were just that, talking points, and they would disappear if technology was introduced. Would that stop you clambering for it? Would that change your mind? Let’s look at the major talking points in a bit more detail and see if it does.
As Cudicini pushed the shot straight up in the air a mix of attackers and defenders waited to deal with the ball. Suddenly Mr John Terry steamrollered his way into the picture causing the whole group to fall to the floor with the ball seemingly a secondary thought. A foul. The well placed referee blows his whistle and everything stops as he gives a free kick to Tottenham. Well, in my head he does, but in real life the official lets play continue meaning another shot is fired in, hitting the group on the floor before being cleared. John Terry raises his hand Alan Shearer like and the referee gives the goal despite being very well placed. In an after game interview Mr Terry says that he thought he had blocked the shot and that it wasn’t a goal echoing the thoughts of everyone at the game and watching on television.
Meanwhile, over at Old Trafford, Ashley Young runs into the box, spies another outstretched foot, runs into it and flings himself acrobatically to the ground, twisting as he falls. An obvious dive to everyone watching and one that should be rewarded with a yellow card and a warning not to do it again. Instead, the well placed referee, points to the spot. Rooney steps up, scores and sets the tone for the rest of the game. A game that, by winning, probably meant that United had done enough to retain their Premier League crown.
Let’s switch over to Man City at Carrow Road. Keep an eye on that stocky Argentinian because he is about to twist and turn his way into the box. As he goes past the second challenge an outstretched foot brings him down. The chunky South American rolls over and gets up. A penalty. Everyone watching clearly thinks the same as does the person who tripped him judging by the roll of his eyes. The well placed referee blows his whistle and produces a yellow card which he then aims at Tevez. Cue astonishment from everyone and a relieved sigh from Ryan Bennett.
So, three games, three incidents and three wrong decisions all taken by three well placed officials. Notice the position of all of the officials. Well placed. If the officials were well placed then how did they come about making their decisions? At what point did the referee’s opinion differ from everyone else’s if they could actually see what went on? Is there some sort of conspiracy to which we, the fan, are excluded from? Do you actually care about any of this?
Well I don’t because of one reason and one reason only and that is discussion. All three of these decisions have provoked discussion. Without the discussion, be it in the studio at half time, at the game, in the pub or on social media sites football wouldn’t be the same. It would be dull, boring and a little staid and that would be a great shame because the action on the pitch is mostly anything but.
So come on powers that be. Forget the money. Forget trying to turn a quite beautiful game at times into one devoid of any incident. Human error and incidents means talking points and discussion. It’s as simple as that. That’s why millions of people love it and have done for generations. It would be a pity to change that just for a few coins, wouldn’t it?