The Sweeper: UEFA Introduces the Most Boring Job in Football

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It’s not quite what video replay advocates were hoping for, but Michel Platini is betting the experimental addition of two goal line officials during tonight’s Europa League group stage opener will eventually silence critics and placate fans, managers, and players tired of diving players and dodgy goal mouth calls like the one made at Ashton Gate last month. While the officials have no power to make decisions, the referee can decide whether or not he’ll consult them before pointing for a goal or a goal kick, or a penalty (the Daily Mail provides a neat explanatory diagram).  Imagine, if you will, Tofik Bakhramov‘s point of view in 1966 superseded by a very bored man standing next to the German goal, adamantly shouting “no goal.”

Seems like a nice, human solution to an old problem, but of course not everyone’s happy.  Everton manager David Moyes believes it could lead to an increase in penalties given for scrapping in the box: “…you might find they’re giving every single thing and we’ve not had any directive except to say where they’re going to stand and what they’re going to do.”

Yet perhaps the most damning criticism, cited by Petr Cech and Graham Poll, is that introducing two of what UEFA referee panel member Hugh Dallas calls “human cameras” still doesn’t address the problem of human error.  Cech warns “…if there is a really strong shot which bounces quickly the referee can stay wherever he wants but he still has no chance to see it,” and Poll reasons that “tight goalline calls for goals will still be tough to get right. Imagine being asked to stand next to the goal, looking along the goalline, as Fulham’s Paul Konchesky sizes up a thunderbolt shot!”

While there are sure to be some bumps along the way, long term success in preventing incorrect on-field decisions in front of goal will be integral in putting an end to the goal line tech debate.  Platini won’t be forgiven if his two extra officials simply add to an infinite regression of all-too human error; fans will still demand to know if that legit Konchesky goal isn’t given by the bored guys in sweats, “who watches the watchers?”

  • Major League Soccer president Mark Abbott explains changes to the 2010 MLS schedule, including a proposed two week break during the World Cup and a fixture list with each team playing every other club twice, mirroring the European set-up.
  • “Mirroring the European set-up” you say?  How about some wild and unconfirmed speculation about MLS Team Owner’s Association meeting with the league to discuss the introduction of MLS2?
  • New MLS addition Philadelphia Union is already proselytizing for the Beautiful Game in Philly, introducing a soccer program to Chester Upland School District, a school where the game is about as known as cricket.  Somewhere, Stephen Wells is smiling.
  • The Premier League is posting the fifth highest losses in Europe and UEFA plans to do something about it by 2012, likely involving banning indebted clubs from buying players in the transfer market.  Something about the unlimited source of wealth behind some European clubs leading to player price inflation.  Who knew?  Oh wait, everyone.
  • Flash Queen’s Park Rangers owner Flavio Briatore would fail the fit and proper test and be forced to sell the club if ejected from Formula 1 racing due to a Grand Prix fixing scandal, reports the BBC.
  • Match Fit USA on the Columbus Crew‘s historic achievement yesterday in the Champions League (CONCACAF that is), yet it may be the exception that proves the rule.
  • And just because this will be my last Sweeper filling in this week, some news for all the Canadian Aston Villa supporters out there: the Mail reports a very, very unsubstantiated rumour that Canadian native-turned-Dutch-national Jonathan de Guzman, brother of recent Toronto FC DP Julian, is being sought after by none other than Martin O’Neill.

Richard Whittall tries to be a writer at A More Splendid Life. Tom Dunmore returns tomorrow.

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