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FIFA has no choice but to embrace technology
By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter apologized to both England and Mexico on Tuesday for officiating errors, and admitted it was time to take another look at goal-line technology.

Perhaps Blatter should start by reviewing his own comments, which did nothing but state the obvious.

"With what we have experienced here, it would be nonsense to not re-open the file on technology," Blatter said.

"I deplore the obvious refereeing mistakes we have seen."

Yes, Sepp. But are you actually going to fix the problem?

We're waiting. We've been waiting. And it's getting old.

FIFA has discussed the use of technology for years, but has been unwilling to follow any of the models used successfully in American football, baseball and hockey. Not to mention tennis, which has a system to follow a tiny ball going at insane speeds.

Blatter still said Tuesday "we have to accept mistakes."

After the slew of mistakes in the FIFA World Cup in South Africa this summer, it is very obvious Blatter has to seriously rethink the matter.

Apologizing to England and Mexico, teams hurt in round of 16 games by goals that were disallowed and allowed, respectively, does not make a difference now.

England's Frank Lampard scored a goal ... err ... did not score, in a 4-1 defeat to Germany. A glance at the final score seems to make the call, which disallowed a goal although the ball clearly crossed the line, irrelevant.

But, Lampard's non-goal would have tied the game at 2-2 late in the opening half. The pessimistic British fan would have expected to lose in penalty kicks - see semifinals of 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996 - but you never know.

Replays, which took all of seconds to flash around the world, showed the goal should have stood. It would have taken all of a minute for the referee to run to the sideline and take a look in a replay booth, so the argument of slowing the game down should fall on deaf ears.

Consider the controversy involving Mexico, when after a goal from Argentina's Carlos Tevez who was yards offsides, both teams spent minutes huddled around the referee and his assistant as they discussed the play.

Obviously, offsides brings another challenge altogether to replay, but if the referee has no problem taking a couple minutes to discuss the play, shouldn't he have the option of spending a few minutes to watch a replay?

Officials already communicate through headsets during the game. Sepp, is that not a form of technology? It is time to take the next step.

The credibility of the sport is at stake. Even if Blatter believes otherwise.

"I cannot accept that the integrity of the competition and the referees is called into question," Blatter said.

Earlier in this World Cup, United States midfielder Maurice Edu had a winning goal disallowed against Slovenia and nobody has figured out why. American Clint Dempsey is also part of the discussion, after he had a score erased for offsides when replays showed he was clearly onside.

Officiating mistakes have been part of the game for too long. And it does not just happen at the World Cup. France qualified on the "Hand of Henry," a goal set up by striker Thierry Henry's handball in a playoff against Ireland. But, if nothing else, FIFA and the rest of the world has to embrace technology for goals.

When Blatter gets together with the rest of the FIFA dictators, it would also be a good idea to discuss the obvious and disgraceful diving by players to draw fouls.

Maybe Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo would actually stay on his feet long enough to score if such acting was outlawed. Ronaldo is one of the world's best players, but has made tripping over blades of grass into an art form.

The worst example of diving in this World Cup was when Brazil's Kaka, another of the best players in the world, was run into by Ivory Coast's Kader Keitaan, who then fell in a manner that suggested he just got hit by a train. Kaka got a second yellow card (do not get me going that outdated system), and was ejected.

Replays clearly showed that Keitaan initiated the contact with Kaka, and that the collision was chest-to-elbow. But Keita put on a Broadway play, grabbing his face to get the second yellow and an ejection for Kaka. Kaka was forced to serve a one-game ban.

Blatter may have deflected a bit of the criticism surrounding the officiating for now, but with every game becoming more important and mistakes more significant, he could be in the cross hairs again soon.

He insists FIFA will look into the officiating later this year, but what comes out of the meetings remains to be seen.

"We will present a new model on how to improve high-level refereeing," Blatter said. "The question is to know what we shall do in the future."

Technology, that's all you need, Sepp. Really, it's that simple.

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