Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crossing the line

Well, I called that wrong.

4-1 to Germany. A tanking. A tonking. An Anyone But England believer's wet dream.

At 2-0 it could have been 5-0. At 2-1 it should have been 2-2.

At the end it was an embarrassment for England.

The papers tomorrow will make interesting reading. I rather fancy the referee, linesman and Fabio Capello should look away now.

And the players? Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Frank Lampard et al have hardly cemented their reputation as world class players. Too many fluffed lines on the biggest stage.

The post mortem won't be pretty. It will take some time. We might be best to leave them to it. Gloating is unbecoming at the best of times. After that annihilation it would just be cruel.

The immediate reaction is likely to focus on the use of technology. No doubt the marital status of Sepp Blatter's parents is going to be loudly questioned.

And the FIFA supremo's comments about goal line technology being too costly deserve to be ridiculed.

But I'm actually on his side on this.

Would we stop at goal line technology? Because if we start with that then the calls will be louder for the use of replays elsewhere.

Penalty decisions? That would rule out the two penalties England won against Argentina at recent World Cups.

Offside decisions? Fouls? Pass backs? Hand balls in World Cup play-off games?

All these decisions can turn games, referees and linesmen can get them all wrong. Technology in one area of the game will lead to a clamour to get technology in every area of the game.

Technology is quick and simple. Is it? My experience of rugby suggests that it's not. Baffling decisions like today's might be reversed after one replay. But tighter decisions will require careful study by a TV official under as much stress as anyone else. It will break the pattern of the game.

But, and I hate myself for saying this, Blatter is right when he talks about a human aspect to football. Ultimately human error is part of the game.

Referees, players, managers. They all make mistakes. If they didn't football would be perfect. But it is the imperfections that add to the excitement of the game.

They madden us, infuriate us, frustrate us. But they keep us coming back for more.

England were the victims today. They'll be on the right side of wrong decisions in the future, as they have been in the past.

It might a societal thing, this demand for everything to be 100% correct all the time. But we're not all 100% correct all the time. Football reflects us, for better or worse.

So a no to technology. And a definite no to technology being pushed in on the back of that one goal.

You'd need to be Dr Sam Beckett to discover how it might have changed the game. 2-2 at half time is very different to 2-1 at half time.

But Germany deserved their win. 4-1 possibly didn't do their superiority justice. Goal or no goal, England needed more than technology today.