Paul Lewis on sport
Paul Lewis is the Herald on Sunday's Sport Editor

Paul Lewis: Better late than Blatter


I once knew a couple with a dog. A particularly stupid dog. A Cavalier King Charles spaniel, to be precise.

The breed is itself, I believe, inherently dim. Anything bred to look like a cross between bug-eyed comic Marty Feldman and King Charles II has a major hurdle to overcome. This particular animal had no redeeming features and only one talent.

It was adept at running across the carpet, leaping in the air and landing on its backside, where the resulting slide across the coarse fibres evidently gave it pleasure and relief.

I tell a lie. It had another talent. When the itch became unbearable, it was also clever at hoisting its rear legs out of the way and "walking" along the carpet, using only its front legs, with the offending orifice receiving prolonged treatment.

This creature came to mind when I thought of Fifa boss Sepp Blatter immediately after watching Frank Lampard score that perfectly legitimate goal against Germany, only to have it disallowed.

Fifa and Blatter have stubbornly refused to use technology - or any other sensible measure - so such injustices do not occur.

I wouldn't equate Blatter with that King Charles spaniel, although, if you imagine him with long woolly ears, the resemblance is striking.

Nor would I equate him or Uruguayan linesman Mauricio Espinoza - the man whose call governed whether Lampard's strike was a goal or not - with what the King Charles spaniel landed on. But it's tempting.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column on this very page, predicting it would be a week before Blatter's ludicrous stance on technology would cause grief at the World Cup.

I was wrong. It was two weeks.

Blatter has apologised to England and says FIFA will re-examine the question of technology - the same issue they slammed the door on several times, including just before this World Cup.

The Fifa disease even infected former All White and current Fifa Oceania rep, Fred de Jong. Interviewed on Radio Sport this week before Blatter's apology, he defended Fifa's stance.

De Jong said:

He had "no problem" with the Lampard goal being disallowed. Permitting technology would disrupt the spontaneity; the flow of the game; there was no telling how much time it would eat up if technology was called on often.

Nope, no point in disturbing the flow of the game for a little thing like getting a fair, just and correct result - as opposed to free-flowing injustice. That's like an innocent man being sentenced to death but the trial running very smoothly.

The Lampard goal would not have made any difference to the result as Germany were the superior team (they won 4-1).

Not only do Fifa know better than everyone else in the world, they also apparently have a Time Machine which can transport them into the future to verify results.

If Lampard's goal had been allowed, as it should have been, the score would have been 2-2 and no-one could have foretold the result. Not Blatter, not the ref, not Mauricio Espinoza, not John the Baptist, not even Nostra-bleedin'-damus ... and certainly not Fred de Jong.

It happens only rarely.

How about never? You don't even need sophisticated technology. Just the video replays would do it.

The erring officials would "pay the price".

Fifa advocate adjudication by "human beings" - the implication being that we all make mistakes. But once officials like poor old Mauricio stuff up, they are consigned to the Fifa rubbish bin, probably re-assigned to such important games as the Montevideo under-16s vs the Long John Silver Impersonators Club, who play complete with wooden leg, parrot and eye patch.

The governing body won't apply a solution so, when the inevitable happens, the ones who get it where the duck got the shotgun pellets are the ones applying the rules (or not). And who chooses the refs? Uh-huh. Fifa.

It's like the Army sending a battalion out to fight with no rifles but plenty of bullets and then court-martialling them for not engaging the enemy.

Fred approved of using technology for discerning whether incidents like red cards or penalties were justified.

So it's okay for that, but not to decide whether goals are scored? God help us.

There's been a lot of twaddle talked about the growth of football in this country.

Here's what a lot of Kiwis newly caught up in football fever have perceived, courtesy of the World Cup: cheating footballers who fall over without being touched and roll around like their livers have suddenly exploded; who are encouraged to do so because Fifa doesn't give the officials adequate tools to use.

They see a skilful game, but which often seems to be played by effeminate confidence tricksters; a game where the wrong result, sometimes gained by such methods, is allowed to stand.

New Zealand footballers, mercifully, don't go in for this gubbins much. But growing the game here? Someone like Fred de Jong must see that ridding the game of such rampant chicanery is necessary in New Zealand where we just like playing sport; not having to get a PhD in bullshit first.

The final proof of Fifa's lack of grey matter in all this came in Johannesburg on the same day as Lampard's goal - when the big screen video replay showed the offside goal by Argentina's Carlos Tevez. That led to shenanigans at halftime involving justifiably angry Mexicans.

Fifa's answer: replays of controversies are now not being shown on the stadium screens. Arrrrgh. So it's all right to let injustices occur - as long as you hide them from the players.

Blatter said recently: "No matter which technology is applied, at the end of the day a decision will have to be taken by a human being.

"This being the case, why remove the responsibility from the referee to give it to someone else?"

Because, Sepp, "someone else" might actually be able to get it right and - here's the bonus - it'll stop you from being confused with a King Charles spaniel. Or its rear end.

- Herald on Sunday

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