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JESSE FINK
THE COUNTER

Jesse Fink is one of Asia's most read football columnists and has been named by ChangeFIFA as an "expert on world football you must follow".

Technology is the solution, not the problem for FIFA

Pierluigi Collina

o on the one hand we have Pierluigi Collina, the great Italian referee and UEFA referees' committee member, speaking at the Leaders in Football conference in London and pleading for mercy from the public: "If you kill referees every week we can finish referees. We need years to build up referees and one second to destroy them. To keep them we need to protect them."

Yet at the same time the bug-eyed baldie won't have a bar of goal-line technology: "The technological experiment didn't find the solution and the human found the solution. I think the goal line can be easily controlled by two additional assistant referees. We had big mistakes last year, not because the assistant referee didn't help the referee. He gave the correct advice, but simply the referee thought he was right."

Can someone point out to me just how the two statements compute? That referees are being hounded out of the game is a serious issue, just as it's a serious issue that many others are choosing not to become referees, and Collina is right to bring it up. No referee in the game deserves the virulent and sometimes personal criticism levelled at them for human error. It's just a game. Not a matter of life and death. Everyone is fallible. But when a technology is available that is practically infallible, that has been proven to be so, and which removes an opportunity for referees to be abused, like they were at South Africa 2010 for that disallowed goal by Frank Lampard, Collina is actively rejecting it. How is that in any way going towards protecting the army of harried men with whistles he represents? How is that good for the game or the fans?

orse, Collina's rusted-on supporters, like Football Association referees' committee chairman David Elleray, are confusing the debate. Elleray might boast of a 98 per cent success rate by referees in offside calls in the English Premier League, but what about Patrice Evra's clear foul on Ramires in the dying minutes of the Chelsea vs Manchester United Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge in April? The Frenchman's legs were virtually wrapped around the Brazilian. The referee, Alberto Undiano Mallenco, waved play on.

So while Collina talks of assistants' calls being wrongly overturned by referees in big-stakes matches, the fact is no "correct advice" was offered in this incident. By anyone. How is that in any conceivable way, to use Collina's wording, an example of "the human" finding "the solution"?

Football officialdom's rejection of technology at the highest levels (FIFA and UEFA) is nothing short of a disgrace. For people who are supposed to be custodians of the game, they are actually imperiling its future while other sports embrace new opportunities for fairer play and justice. And that, frankly, is a red-card offence.

 
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