We’ve been shouting about it for years, asking the questions and then trying to answer them.
Claiming that it will be the answer to all injustices, ending world hunger, solving climate change all in its stride. Not quite, but it will bring the footballing world together, we hope.
Well, finally, in a little old run of the mill international friendly – the small case of France v Spain – video technology finally came to fruition. And alas, it works!
Just a point to the earpiece from the man in black, a replay that we can all see, and sod it we’re all the video referee really (how inclusive). A 40 second break on two occasions to check a couple of close offside calls and a game that could have finished 1-1 rightfully ends in a 2-0 victory for Spain.
So, what’s the problem? Well, it’s early days. That night in Paris was a huge step forward for what is ultimately a great breakthrough in our sport.
However, something niggles me…I can’t help but feel that if this progresses, as it probably will, then something will be missing. The controversy.
Tell me, what is Wenger (when he signs the new contract) going to moan about in his post-match interview? What are Gary and the guys going to ponder over on MOTD every Saturday night?
Controversy, no matter how negative it can be at times, as well as unfair on players, coaches, fans, and referees alike, is part of the make-up of the game. It adds to the intensity inside a stadium and helps to create the great atmospheres we see every week at football grounds all over the world.
Imagine scoring a 90th minute winner then pausing your celebration halfway through to check if there was a foul in the build-up, or if the attacker strayed offside. It sounds like it would add to the anticipation but with this comes the bland ‘apres’ celebration once the goal in question is confirmed.
The video system works impeccably in the NFL, it removes the element of doubt and 99% of the time the correct outcome is reached. After a commercial break, let’s not forget.
This is a sport that a lot of football fans resent for its stop/start nature, it really is the monkey on the back of the NFL and prevents potential fans of the future from switching on because ‘it takes too long’.
Now I’m not saying a football match will take three hours via a bunch of Geico and KFC adverts, but the 40 second stoppage does seem too good to be true.
For example, the Ibrahimović incident during Man United v Everton this week. Zlatan looked to have strayed offside and the assistant raised his flag. The replays were studied for at least an hour and we were still none the wiser at the end of it all.
The famous ‘twenty to five job’ where the leading team takes the ball in the corner until time elapses becomes the ‘five to five job’. Dinner reservations for Saturday evenings have to be put back 15 minutes and 606, the football phone-in, has to be renamed 621. The aforementioned unthinkable is not far away people!
And what if we disagree with the video ref? Should we lock him away in a bullet proof dungeon just in case?
I don’t wish to be negative as our officials need all the help they can get. Undoubtedly video decision systems are the next step forward in supporting them.
I just say we need to have a think about what we love about football the most, the aspects that make us tune in more or less every evening and spend our hard-earned cash going to watch.
With video technology we must tread carefully, or risk losing the culture that football has worked so hard to create.
By Nick Fruin