FIFA and the Ministry of Truth

In the official report, that goes down as a Ronaldo-style laser into the back of the net

Let it be known that Big Brother, a.k.a. Sepp Blatter, is an idiot. That, I believe, is a commonly accepted truth.

Let it also be known that FIFA’s attempts at control in the past couple of weeks have reeked of the Ministry of Truth. First, it was decreed that there was no problem and that the referees were doing fine jobs. Now stop asking questions! Next, the Ministry decided that the stadium jumbotrons would not show replays, lest it upset the masses (or show how the referees screwed up). Although the FIFA spokesman used the word “mistake” it was not in response to on-field human error, but in response to showing replays on the big boards.

Now, however, after yelling at him a lot, Blatter has changed his mind and said that us of video technology will be reviewed. Again. So Big Brother will stick to his guns, unless Europe is affected (yes, I think that the tune has changed because England was involved; it was just Mexico and the US, Blatter would be telling us that everything is fine).

So Blatter finally removed his head from his ass. That’s good. But it doesn’t solve anything. “Reviewing” is just that: a platitude that will mollify some people for now until, sometime after the World Cup (maybe 6 or 7 months), the issue will be quietly dropped again. FIFA will not change unless it’s forced to. And the only thing that will force it to change is a colossal mistake during the final. And I, for one, am hoping that happens.

There are several easy ways to fix this without messing up the games. All referees wear microphones that, so far as I can tell, don’t actually do anything. Add a fifth referee who’s watching a video feed and is empowered to tell the referee on the field of any fouls or missed calls. Simple. For the scrums in the box on free kicks and corner kicks, add one referee behind each goal whose sole job is to watch those scrums for infractions. As a bonus, he/she can also watch the goal line. Blatter’s beloved human element is still in place, and it might even clean up the game.

Nothing is perfect and things will be missed, even with HD cameras all over the pitch. The goal is to cut down the number of ridiculous errors, the kind of game-changing errors that cost England, Mexico, and the United States (just to name three). Referees have a difficult job because the game moves at such a fast pace; therefore, FIFA should give them all the help they need, including video technology. To do anything less is idiotic. But I’d expect nothing else from Sepp Blatter.

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