Wrong call in Hoffenheim renew debate for modernization of football

The highlight of the Bundesliga match between TSG Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich in Hoffenheim was the scene that occurred in the 10th minute. Josip Simunic’s potent header had crossed the line but FIFA referee, Babak Rafati and his assistants allowed the game to continue.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw with goals from Ivica Olic and Chinedu Obasi. But the reverberation from the referee’s wrong call still lingers on.

The coaches of both teams, Louis van Gaal of Bayern Munich and Ralf Rangnick of Hoffenheim are of the opinion that modern technology should assist referees in their job. Even Babak Rafati, agree that it would be a welcomed relief.

In other sport like Ice Hockey, Tennis or American football, video is part of the integral officiating process. However, in football, there are mixed views for technology like goal camera, football chip or none at all.

The last time video evidence was used in the just concluded CONFED cup in South Africa raised eyebrow. The match between Brazil and Egypt in the CONFED cup could have ended differently if the ‘human factor’ as propagated by UEFA president, Michelle Platini, was used instead of video.

The match in Bloemfontein was 3-3 for both sides. During extra time, the referee, Howard Webb, awarded a conner kick for Brazil but changed his decision. Suddenly, he gave Egyptian, Ahmed Al Muhammadi, a red card and a penalty for Brazil. Kaka converted the penalty and Brazil won the match.

It is alleged that the fourth official saw through video that Ahmed Al Muhammadi obstruct a goal bound header with his arm in the cross line. Ahmed Al Muhammadi acted like the ball hit his face to confuse Howard Webb. Egypt filed a protest after the match but justice was served.

Officially, FIFA does not support video or the much acclaimed chip in football. UEFA, on the other hand is going an extra mile, in an experiment to increase the number of officials to six. In other words, two extra officials at the goal posts. While some argue, that we should leave football the way it is because the game is all about emotion.

The pros and cons of modernizing football is a reminder of how technology is at loggerheads with a conservative sport like football. There should be a global consensus through FIFA to effect change that could lead to fair officiating.