Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Every season there's not many weeks go by without the subject of instant replay technology being used in football following a contentious decision. The big talking point last month was the amazing non goal in the Bristol City-Crystal Palace Championship game and there will be several more before the season ends.

In this modern age, and following the successful use in sports like American Football and Ice Hockey, it really is baffling why something hasn't been introduced to stop controversial and often costly wrong decision ruining games.

Whether it be a full blown instant replay review by the fourth official or even an introductory goal-line camera mounted on goalposts to see if the ball has crossed the line, the time for change is long overdue.

Some are still against the idea, whether it be due to tradition, not wanting to disrupt the flow of the game or the fact that not all games can have this benefit due to the lack of television coverage around the lower leagues of the world.

Even those that are opposed to using technology feel that some change is needed, whether that be in the shape of two extra linesman or something else.

I'm a big advocate of using technology in the modern game where possible. It may not benefit East Fife in most games but it will benefit the game on the whole. Sure it will delay games whilst the referee checks decisions, but that delay is going to be minimal and the number of them in games few and far between if it's not used for every little thing but just disputed goals and penalty decisions.

The amount of time wasted celebrating or arguing about such decisions just now can be used to make sure that the right decision has been made or will be made in the end. It's all worth it as far as I'm concerned.

I've wanted to see this happen for years and was overjoyed to see it actually happen in a live football match on Sunday.

It may not have been in a big match or even "proper" football, as the decision took place in the UK Masters tournament in Liverpool, but to finally see instant replay put to good use was a joy to behold.

The game in question was the final of the tournament between Tranmere Rovers and Bolton Wanderers. With Bolton leading 3-2 and time ticking away, Tranmere had a penalty appeal for handball waved away. The Rovers players were furious and to make matters worse Bolton went up the field to score, make it 4-2 and seemingly wrap up the trophy.

Referee John Underhill then used the stoppage in the game to review the penalty incident. It took him just seconds to see that it was indeed handball and disallowed Bolton's goal, awarding Tranmere a penalty instead. Tranmere scored the penalty to level the game at 3-3 and then went on to win the tournament with a goal in the dying seconds.

It was all controversial stuff, mainly because no-one seemed to be aware that instant video replay was actually in use at the tournament!

The whole review decision took seconds though and in the end the wrong decision was overturned and proved to be a game changing reversal.

It may not have been the World Cup Final or a championship or relegation decider but it showed what is missing from football at all levels. Hopefully video of the incident will find it's way to someone at FIFA and it's not too long before such technology becomes the norm at games around the world.

Let's hope it's in place before a controversial decision robs your team.

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