I have noticed a few things about my writing. First, I don’t always title articles based on their content and second I’m verbose. The second of which is hilarious because my favorite writer is Hemming… see, I’m doing it again.
The article titles issue has come to my attention before. Someone mentioned that they basically have to read my articles every day and ignore the title in order to get to the gems. Since then I’ve tried, I really have but I will still write an article called Arsenal v. Birmingham match preview and in that article will be a brief, two paragraph gem where I coin the phrase “Centurions,” you know, just in case Arsenal score 100 goals in the season.
I’m going to toot my own horn here and say that I’m proud that I got in on Arsenal scoring 100 goals in a season all the way back on October 16th and have been writing about this free flowing team and their prolific goal scoring pretty much ever since.
Of course I think 100 League goals in a season is a crazy feat, a feat of Invincibles proportions, that’s why I thought they needed a name and “Centurions” fits. And, of course, they haven’t scored 100 goals yet so they aren’t the Centurions… yet. I am also not trying to heap any more pressure on them than the dot com already has. I’m just pointing out that at this pace, they have a pretty good chance of scoring 100 League goals. In fact, at 36 goals in 11 games, Arsenal are on pace to score 124 goals this season. Which isn’t realistic, but it sure is fun to think about.
So, that takes care of the first part of my title, the second part is about yesterday’s David N’Gog dive. Well, more generally about cheating, instant replay, and referee’s getting the decisions right.
When I was a kid we didn’t have instant replay. We watched the games live, as they happened, uphill, in the snow, BOTH WAYS. Slowly, television stations started devoting time to taping the games and replaying important events back for us. At first this was met with disdain, people didn’t want their football coverage broken up with replays! But now, we have multiple angles, they can stop motion and digitize the plays, there’s slow motion replay, telestrators, and basically every play is scrutinized from dozens of angles. So, when we see David N’Gog go down in the box, and it’s clear from the overhead third camera angle that he dived, blatantly cheated, the anti-diving fundamentalists start frothing at the mouth at the injustice that was just committed.
But, here’s the thing: refs get shit wrong. A few weeks ago a referee let Sunderland’s goal stand against Liverpool, when it was clear that the beach ball obstructed the goal. Did N’Gog dive? Yes. 100% There was no contact, which I can say, having seen the incident from multiple angles, cropped, zoomed in and in slow motion.
But that’s the problem isn’t it, or at least it’s one of the problems, that we fans get to see stuff during the match that the referee cannot. FIFA’s cowardly answer to this is to put more officials on the pitch, but more officials are not going to be as good as the cameras around them and they will just get more calls wrong, which we will get to see over and over again, dissected from every possible angle.
So the simple solution is to either instill instant replay officiating for important calls or to stop showing instant replays on television. I know that there are a lot of people who say that instant replay officiating would “slow the game down” or would “break the flow” of the game but that’s just bullshit and you all know it. It wouldn’t slow the game down any more than the game is already slowed down by how on every controversial call the official is mobbed by 22 players.
It would work like this: on every penalty call, the official would get on his headset to the fourth official, who would quickly look at a monitor and decide if the call needs a review. If not, most do not, the play would go on. If it does, or if the fourth official is undecided, the ref would take 30 seconds to get the call right. Additionally, I would allow each team 2 challenges per game, like we do in the NFL. These could be used at the manager’s discretion and again would take less than a minute to clear up. So, Ancelotti could challenge Johnny Evan’s kung-fu kick on Drogba, as Drogba was getting treatment, which would result in a straight red for Evans and a yellow for Drogba’s fake seizure. Seems to me that if getting all the calls perfectly right is so gods damned important we ought to at least let the refs use the technology available to them to do so while the game is still being contested.
There is one other option… for us all to accept that refs are human and make mistakes, that players take advantage of that, and that while it might seem like the world’s most tragic injustice it’s just a game.
Nah, let’s gets that video replay please!