British football player Frank Lampard reacts to the disappointment of a disallowed goal during England's 4-1 loss to Germany in Sunday's Group of Sixteen match to determine who advances to the Quaterfinals.
Germany beat England 4-1 in South Africa this afternoon, and while the Germans dominated the British for most of the 90 minutes of the game, the one spark of hope that England possessed, in line to score two goals within a matter of seconds and tie the score, was dashed by a goal that bounced off the top bar of the goal cage and clearly landed on the grass inside the area of the goal before it bounced off the top bar again, this time being cleared out by the German goalie. The goal was waved off by the linesman and play continued as if the ball never crossed the goal line.
What does a disallowed soccer goal have to do with politics? Everything. Because politics goes way beyond just legislating and ruling, it permeates many levels of our lives. Because soccer is big business, the politics of it affects millions of people, even those who aren't big fans, and even during our leisure time, playing couch potato on a Sunday morning.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), is a political organization that has a monopoly on the world of football. Football, as most of the world calls it, is the most popular sport in the world, despite the fact that it is not so widely embraced in the United States arguably the most important television market in the world. Football is big money.
FIFA has a monopoly and its governing body is a "Politburo" of totalitarian power. Like all despots, the leaders of FIFA, led by FIFA's President, Joseph S. Blatter, do not accept change easily. Like all despots, the leaders of FIFA do not like suggestions from outside agitators. And like all despots, the leaders of FIFA treat controversy with a shrug of a shoulder and then just pretend it never happened.
Because of the conservatism of the blue-suits in charge, FIFA will probably never accept video replay as a part of its arsenal of tools to make the officiating at FIFA matches as free of errors as possible. Conservatism within the governing branch of major sports is commonplace and not unique to the world of international football. It is FIFA's high level of conservatism and egotistic snobbery that keeps them from accepting change, even change for the better. It is FIFA's old-school conservatism which makes it easy for them to refuse to implement even simple goal line technology similar to that used in hockey which would ensure that it is the play of the athletes on the field that decide the final score and not the mistakes of a humanly deficient officiating crew.
This is all about politics, because it exemplifies the tremendous power FIFA wields. Today's disallowed goal which robbed Frank Lampard of a 2010 World Cup goal, affects lives way beyond his own personal statistics. At the World Cup level of the sport, even the call of a goal that probably wouldn't have decided the game, affects lives because of huge sums of money tied up in it, and because of the huge sums of money generated by the cash cow that is the sport of international football and the huge sums of money that shift towards the victors.
If Frank Lampard can get any solace from the experience of being cheated out of a goal at the 2010 World Cup it's that maybe, just maybe this time, the criticism of FIFA and its antiquated "shoulder shrug" attitude towards incorporating even the simplest of technology, will reach such a fevered pitch in the press throughout the world, that the blue-suits of FIFA will be shamed into at least discussing it objectively in public. If there is a legitimate reason why FIFA feels that goal line technology would detract from the game, and somehow infect the purity of the sport, they should make the argument publicly, anything less is a totalitarian shrug of the shoulders and a despotic flipping of the bird at fans.
If FIFA wants to continue to gain fans through respect of the beauty of the sport and they want to continue to control the politics and purse strings of the most popular sport in the world, they owe it to the players and their fans to make it the cleanest and fairest sport in the world. That's not just good business, that's good politics as well.
Photo credit: Digitally captured from publicly shared video.
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