Video review long time coming for FIFA

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

FIFA is close to making one of the most crucial decisions affecting the sport of soccer.

At least we think they are close, although you never know.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has apparently had enough of being beaten up over referee errors. He has promised to review plans for the introduction of video technology. In layman's language, that means FIFA will look at video replay to ensure refereeing decisions at crucial times are either supported or overturned.

This has been a long time coming — in typical FIFA fashion — but before anyone jumps up and down for joy Blatter hasn't exactly put his stamp of approval on this thing.

He promises to "review plans for the introduction of video technology."

And...

"I can confirm that on March 6 at the international board meeting in Zurich we will be talking about the introduction of technological support for match officials," Blatter said.

Confirming one will talk about it and actually getting it done are miles apart.

Suffice to say FIFA might finally be getting the message that the time is right to bring some form of video replay into the game. No one is suggesting the kind of horrendous review system the National Football League has, where it seems everything is reviewable, slowing down an already slow game.

Blatter has never been a supporter of technology to aid game officials. It's not surprising, considering Blatter is freeze-dried from the 1950s.

But the incorrect decisions affecting games can no longer be ignored.

The real movement for some sort of technology began in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea. That event will be remembered for the abysmal quality of the officiating. It was so bad that many believed it could only be deliberate in an effort to ensure South Korea made it as far as possible in the tournament.

It blossomed more recently when France and Ireland met in a World Cup playoff game decided by the non-call of a hand ball by France's Thierry Henry.

Controversy blossomed again this week.

"I woke up after a tranquil night where I hadn't even watched television, but when I read the morning papers I jerked as once again the referees made the news for wrong decisions," Blatter told a European newspaper.

That decision involved Italian team Fiorentina, beaten 2-1 by Bayern Munich in a Champions League game. The winner by Miroslave Klose was clearly offside. It was one of several questionable calls by Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo and his assistants.

More about that later.

The problem facing FIFA is timing? Does Blatter rush video replay into action just months before the World Cup or does he wait to begin fresh next season? The bait to getting video replay done immediately is that it might prevent a World Cup from being won or lost on an incorrect call.

But there is something that can be done immediately to lessen the chance of games being decided by incorrect calls.

Which brings us to Ovrebo and other officials who consistently make mistakes.

Ovrebo has been surrounded in controversy. He incorrectly sent off Barcelona's Eric Abidal in a Champion's League game last year while turning down several Chelsea penalty appeals.

During Euro 2008 Ovrebo almost cost Italy a quarterfinal place by disallowing a good Luca Toni goal. He also wrongly awarded Greece a penalty during a 2010 World Cup qualifier against Latvia.

Yet he continues to officiate key games.

If FIFA was more proactive in dealing with incompetent officiating, it wouldn't have to worry so much about video replay.


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