USA-Slovenia Stolen Match Proves Why Soccer Needs Tech

I'm Spanish. I've been watching soccer—football—all my life, and I always wondered why the hell don't they use technology to solve one of the biggest problems of this game: Referees making bad calls. Like in today's USA-Slovenia game.

The fact is that, no matter how many times I watch that Maurice Edu's goal, referee Koman Coulibaly's decision to cancel a perfectly legal goal seems inexplicable. Donovan curled the freekick perfectly, and Edu blasted it inside Slovenia's door with ease. That's what happened. There was no offside, and there were no fouls except the Slovenians trying to grab every single American player in the box. In other words, Coulibaly's call was completely wrong, and it took three points away from the USA team. That's very bad for the competition.

If this were American football a bad call could be easily solved by just replaying the last 10 seconds of play. It's pretty simple. And that's exactly what soccer needs: Technology. To start with, they need multiple cameras to record the game from every angle in real time, with a group of referees on the side correcting any major erroneous calls there may be. It doesn't have to be in every single play. Just major, game-changing instances would be enough.


The horribly mis-called goal in question.

But technology can help more and eliminate 90% of the most common problems in referee decisions: Off-sides. They only need to incorporate location microchips into players' boots and the ball. It doesn't have to be GPS. It could work with local location, with a computer triangulating the position of players and balls using receptors placed around the field. It's not science-fiction technology. It can be easily done and it's not expensive for a sport that generates more money than any other sport in the planet.

A technology like that, plus the multiple cameras, would eliminate most of the problems and randomness of soccer, while avoiding interrupting the game too much. So why they don't do it? Some say that, if you make it all too perfect, you take power away from the referees and the soccer federations. Others say that you will take la salsa off the sport. And then there's the ones that say that this would stop the game.

It's all bollocks, especially the last part: The game stops every time there's referee call, but even more so when it's a dubious fault, penalty, goal, or offside. It's then when players and referee waste minutes discussing the play (and frustrated players get pissed off too, which later usually leads to more adrenaline and violence in the field).

At the end of the day, this is what happens: Unfair games, violence because of players' frustration, and angry and/or sad fans. Nothing will happen to the damn Coulibaly except being excluded of the next World Cup (if that), but his mistake could mean that the USA doesn't make it to the next stage of the World Cup. That's bad not only for the USA. It's bad for the sport.

It's time for FIFA to use technology to the game's advantage. While I can appreciate the randomness of the game—like the awful Switzerland scoring by pure chance against a brilliant Spain—nobody can feel right about an unjust referee call that can destroy the hopes of a team and its followers.

Click to viewOh, and FIFA, while you are at it, please destroy all vuvuzelas in the field (so players can hear each other, and we can avoid going mad) and ask players if they like the new ball before starting the World Cup (they hate it). Thanks.

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