According to a story released Monday by Sports Illustrated, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is reportedly considering the official use of instant replay technology in soccer matches. Despite long-standing criticism from FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) President Michel Platini who in the past have spoken against the use of such technology, says SI, members of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) will address the issue at a meeting next month.
Professional sports players and officials are not strangers to instant replay. Some of the most notable examples include the use of coach’s challenges in the National Football League (NFL) and player challenges in professional tennis matches. It isn’t clear yet what stance FIFA will take, and SI clearly states that the IFAB will not make a ruling on the matter in its upcoming meeting. However, the article does state that the UEFA may push for the use of “high-tech aids” that will help inform referees about penalty-area infractions.
Technology has the capability to detect how far the ball has moved across the goal line, for instance, with a level accuracy that referees may not match. Since soccer matches are often low-scoring affairs, the addition of an errant single goal could dramatically affect a match’s outcome.
Next month, the IFAB will also tackle a number of other issues affecting sporting events. First, SI says, the board will address the use of “sin bins” in amateur soccer — a concept that could allow leagues to issue harsher in-game penalties for yellow-card offenses. Presently, players can be banned from playing in a match if they accumulate a number of yellow cards over several matches. The “sin bin” system would punish a player by making him or her sit out for a period of time during the match in which the offense took place. According to Fox Sports, Platini supports a 10- to 15-minute punishment within a match.
The IFAB reportedly also will tackle the issue of players displaying personal messages on their undershirts and the in-league legality of Islamic persons wearing headscarves. SI says new dresscode rules could ban the wearing of personal texts or images — in addition to the current ban on political slogans and advertising — on undershirts, which some players choose to show while celebrating important events such as scoring goals. In contrast, SI says the IFAB was completing safety tests on headscarves, and text in the panel’s upcoming meeting agenda states, “After a two-year pilot, there is no indication as to why the wearing of head covers should be prohibited.” The ruling is expected to extend to both female and male players.
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