Post World Cup : The Future of Football

Post World Cup : The Future of Football
Spain's national soccer team players celebrate their World Cup victory on an open-top bus during a parade in downtown Madrid, July 12, 2010. Spain stunned the Netherlands to win their first World Cup on Sunday in sensational fashion with a goal in the last minutes of extra time.  REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Firstly, congratulations to Spain. A 1-0 extra-time victory over the Netherlands last weekend, scored by Andrés Iniesta ensured the European Champions became mens soccer World Champions for the first time. Huge crowds gathered in the Spanish Capital, Madrid to see the victory parade.

Silver Medals' for the Dutch runners-up and a day earlier - Germany had beaten Uruguay for the 3rd placed, 'Bronze.'

It was a very successful first competition on the continent of Africa, and hosts South Africa may be proud of the warm welcome they provided for all the international participants and supporters.

So onwards, the world of soccer goes. For the big International competitions, the Womens World Cup is next year: 2011 in Germany. The next Mens World Cup is in Brazil 2014. Before that, the Qualifying phases begin again this winter for the European and other Continental Championships for the Finals in two years time, and also of course in 2012, the London Olympics will include a soccer tournament.

So what have we learned from this competition about the future of football?

One significant development this World Cup has been the spotlight into which application of the rules of the game have been brought into sharp focus. Advances in technology including the increasing use by international broadcasters of super-slow-motion, contrasted with some shockingly poor decisions during the tournament, have seen the momentum of the debate surrounding the use of technology gather pace. In the light of some of the controversial refereeing decisions in the 2010 World Cup, it seems likely that some changes will be made to the beautiful game.

In the recent World Cup Final, and it may have to be repeated that Spain were the better team and fully deserved to win, the Netherlands team did have some cause for complaint about the winning goal, but more importantly, FIFA should have cause for concern about the standard of decision making made difficult by the speed of the game. The momentum is for soccer to use technology to aid referees, but FIFA have thus far been reluctant to agree to it.

Moments before the winning goal was scored, the Netherlands had a solid claim for a corner, which was instead awarded as a goal kick to Spain. It began with a Dutch free kick which hit the wall, deflecting off Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Subsequently, a corner should have been given, but a goal kick to Spain was given instead. Whilst the referee may not have seen clearly, the assistant should probably have spotted it. In any event, it was an incorrect decision, and taken in isolation slightly spoils the event as this goal kick was the start of a move that indirectly led to Spains goal. It is decisions like this which need to be ironed out of soccer, as they have been in other sports which utilise technology to assist referees. In my opinion. What is yours? Discuss this, and other soccer related issues on the Soccer Forum.

Whilst FIFA President Sepp Blatter would not be drawn specifically on that issue, he had commented the week earlier, after the Round of 16:

"It is obvious that after the experience so far in this World Cup it would be a nonsense not to reopen the file of technology at the business meeting of the International FA Board in July,"

"Yesterday I spoke to the two federations [England and Mexico] directly concerned by referees' mistakes.

"I have expressed to them apologies and I understand they are not happy and that people are criticising.

"We will naturally take on board the discussion on technology and have the first opportunity in July at the business meeting."

He was referring, of course to Englands disallowed goal v Germany and one scored against Mexico by Argentina. Just before half-time, with the scores poised at 2-1, Frank Lampard scored (what should have been) an equaliser for England. Television pictures showed that the whole of the ball clearly crossed the line, by a wide margin, but the goal was ruled out. The very next day an offside decision led to a goal that should not have been for Argentina in their game against Mexico. Both teams went out of the tournament. Whether they would have done anyway is debatable. We will never know for sure but the point is, the high profile embarrassment in terms of incorrect decisions may finally see FIFA contemplate introducing technology and bringing the beautiful game into the 21st Century.

Kicking and screaming!

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