If you’ve watched the USA-Slovenia World Cup match that concluded an hour ago, I’m sure you’re as disappointed and sad as we are. No matter how many times you watch Maurice Edu’s goal on replay, there seems to be no reason why referee Koman Coulibaly decided to cancel a perfectly legal goal.
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 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.
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 that you will take la salsa off the sport.
It’s all bollocks.
At the end of the day, this is what happens: Unfair games and pissed off fans. Nothing will happen to this referee 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.