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Webster: Bring in replays immediately

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Nick Webster

Nick Webster has been the voice of the Barclays Premier League, FIFA World Cup's and UEFA European Championships in America since 2001. Insightful, provocative and entertaining, you'll always find him at the heartbeat of the action with stories that matter.

Fear has unknown causes, and for some strange reason football authorities are terrified by the unknown effect of what video replays will do to this once proud sport.


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Well I’m here to tell FIFA, IFAB (International Football Association Board) and the FA (Football Association) that their fear is completely irrational; that their fear is taking the sport one step closer to utter anarchy, because Saturday saw yet another good goal disallowed with QPR on the receiving end against Bolton.

Replays (that would have also been available to the fourth official) clearly showed to everyone bar the referee and his assistant referee that the ball had clearly crossed the line. QPR had been denied a goal in a vital match.

Hoops manager Mark Hughes was clearly not impressed, but I was struck by his post-match comments. They weren’t emotional but simply matter-of-fact. "We have to demand that their performances are better. The referee was let down by his assistant. The officials should do their job, looking down their line. The linesman's job is to check for that. No excuse, because it wasn't a close decision," Hughes said.

The fact that The Football Association issued a statement before the game had ended, calling for goal-line technology to be introduced "as soon as possible" surely added insult to injury.

Darren Pratley celebrates opening the scoring for Bolton after QPR had been denied a legitimate goal. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/AP Images)

If I were Hughes, I would have been ranting and raving at those authorities who have the power to do what the NFL, NBA, NHL, Cricket, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Tennis, Golf, NASCAR even Field Hockey have realized. Replays work. They make the game legitimate, not a joke (which it currently is).

I’m sure the FA will point to the recent meetings with FIFA and the IFAB to discuss goal line technology amongst other items as a positive move. However, it shouldn’t be a matter of discussion anymore. It should be implemented immediately, with no delay and no more excuses.

After talks regarding goal line technology, FA General Secretary Alex Horne said: "It was a fantastic meeting. It was good to see colleagues from member associations and FIFA. We had a good debate about a number of things, in particular goal line technology."


Saturday, March 10
Home Road
Aston Villa 1-0 Fulham Recap
Bolton 2-1 QPR Recap
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke Recap
Everton 1-0 Tottenham Recap
Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool Recap
Wolves 0-2 Blackburn Recap
Sunday, March 11
Man United 2-0 West Brom Recap
Swansea 1-0 Man City Recap
Norwich 1-1 Wigan Recap
Monday, March 12
Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle Recap
More: England | Premier League

What? Why are these people debating something that is plain for the entire world to see? Is it so they can indulge in their first class travel, stay at five-star hotels, eat at Michelin restaurants, and hang with old friends? Please.

The hardest skill to produce in football is scoring a goal, and it's becoming even harder as officials are either (as Hughes said) not good enough or they’re terrified to make a call that could change the course of a match.

Former FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi once said that "players, coaches and referees all make mistakes. It’s part of the game. It’s what I would call the ‘first match'. What you see after the fact on video simply doesn’t come into it -  that’s the ‘second match’ if you like."

I can see why Linsi is the former General Secretary, but the sad part is that the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, is cut from the same cloth. Sure, he says he’s coming around, but that seems more like a ploy to garner some support – support seemingly erodes by the week.

Ultimately it comes down to getting the big decisions right. We have the technology to do this, but the fact that some irrational fear is preventing rational people from making the obvious decision leads me to believe the folks currently running football need to be replaced, and replaced with immediate effect.

How we manage that is another question as it appears that the men who make the rules for our sport are untouchable. What we can do though is send emails, letters and bombard them with phone calls. We have to demand change because pretty soon there is going to be a bad goal call that will incite a riot.

Change we need. Riot, we don’t.

Nick Webster is a senior writer for covering the Barclays Premier League and the English national team.

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