Sepp Blatter will be content when he reads today’s newspaper headlines. If you believe what you read, the FIFA president has performed a spectacular U-turn on goalline technology after England’s “ghost” goal against Germany in Bloemfontein.
In fact, as with most things to do with Blatter, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Blatter chose his wording very carefully. “It would be a nonsense to not reopen the file of technology,” were his actual words.
That’s not so much a U-turn as a stop-off at a service station for coffee and a croissant while the furore dies down. A toilet break rather than a change of heart.
Frank Lampard’s goal, as well as well as the offside goal Mexico conceded to Argentina on the same day, has reopened the debate about video technology. Not that it has ever gone away.
There are two very different issues at stake here.
One is the use of goalline technology to assess whether goals such as Lampard’s should stand. The second is the use of video replays during matches to review controversial incidents.
The first tackles a very specific issue. The second is wide-ranging and open-ended.
FIFA has proved to be very sensitive on the issue of video replays since Zinedine Zidane’s sending-off in the 2006 Final. The the fourth official in Berlin appeared – though it has never been confirmed by FIFA – to alert the referee after viewing Zidane’s butt on Marco Materazzi on the touchline TV monitor.
At this World Cup, monitors have not appeared on the touchline.
Blatter has always been opposed to technology – he has described it as a “thin end of the wedge”. He has looked at sports such as cricket, where technology had crept in slowly, and resolved to never allow it in football.
He has been helped in this stance by the game’s rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), where the support of the Welsh and Northern Irish members has been crucial in resisting change.
Blatter’s comments yesterday suggest the issue will be discussed again by IFAB, but we are unlikely to see sweeping changes introduced overnight.
There is no reason logical reason to oppose a fifth official with a TV monitor, reviewing incidents during a match, and alerting the referee if – and only if – he has missed a situation where a goal should have been awarded.
However, a much more likely scenario is that IFAB will give the go-ahead to trials of goalline technology – most likely a system developed by Hawk-Eye and Adidas – at a tournament like the Club World Championship or the next world Under-17s or Under-20s event.
But IFAB will resist all other moves, preferring instead to put their faith in Michel Platini’s plan for extra goalline officials – as seen in the Europa League.
The key figure in forcing through any more substantial change will be Platini. The UEFA president, like Blatter, likes to talk about maintaining the human element of the game. But if the game’s most powerful former player were to experience a change of heart, things could be very different.
Today’s headlines may be all about Sympathetic Sepp. But Iron Blatter is not known for turning.Like Angler´s Mail blog? Subscribe to our magazine and you will be able to access our latest comprehensive content!