I Want To Love The 'Beautiful Game', But FIFA Won't Let Me

Dear FIFA,

I want to love international soccer. I really do. And this is not me picking a fight with soccer fans. I am not writing as the ugly ‘merican, here to dump garbage on the sport. I do enjoy soccer and have been more of a fan since 1994, even though I don’t follow it religiously.

I respect the game.

I also love the concept of a global tournament. When was the last time you saw 11 South Koreans and 11 Uruguayans at the same place at the same time? It’s awesome. Not to mention the United Nations of fans in the stands.

However, this is outrageous.

Let me get this straight: The problem wasn’t that there was a blown call, but that fans could actually see the replay of the blown call — and the “solution” is to censor the replay from now on.

Gotcha.

You know, I was thisclose to turning the corner on soccer. I may have picked an EPL team to start following this year. But now I have to ask:

How can I possibly take you seriously?

It’s one thing to be slow to embrace technology. Baseball is terrible that way. Just ask Armando Galarraga. But even baseball has adopted replay, if only for home run calls for now.

What you are doing is pretty disgraceful.

Replay is not a cure-all. Even replay can’t get everything, and it shouldn’t be used for everything. But the most valuable commodity in this sport — perhaps in all sports — is a goal.

Goals happen so rarely, you shouldn't be able to miss one and then say, “Oh well." If you have the means to get a goal call right, you have to use them.

The fact is, a lot of sports have become too fast for the human eye. Sure, you could have more referees, you could have 55 referees… but they are still going to make mistakes, because their eyes can’t keep up with the play. It’s an issue that’s only going to get worse with time.

I know… this post will elicit the arguments of “You don’t understand the ‘Beautiful Game’.” and “The human element must be protected,” and “We can’t disrupt the flow of the game.”

Tell you what: I will believe in the sanctity of the “flow of the game” when players are red-carded for flopping and writhing around on the ground like they’ve just been tasered. That will keep the flow of the game going.

In the meantime, “the human element” can be sacrificed a little bit for the sake of getting the most important part of the game right.

I want to love international soccer and I will still watch because, as a spectacle, the World Cup is pretty great. But as far as being a true fan, I will wait until FIFA joins the rest of us in the 21st century.

All the Best,

Gabe

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