The referees at the 2010 World Cup have been beyond dreadful. The terms disgraceful, clueless and atrocious also come to mind.
These whistle-blowing jokers have already cost the United States two legitimate goals and a victory over Slovenia, allowed a bad Argentine goal to stand against Mexico, and missed another good goal that would have given England a first half tie in its match with Germany.
And how do I know those calls were awful? Because, like hundreds of millions of people around the globe watching with me, I have this amazing tool called replay.
Yet the four individuals who count most -- the head referee, two linesmen and an official in charge of time and substitutions -- weren't able to utilize this cutting edge technology. They had to rely on their old fashioned eyeballs, and their eyeballs deceived them.
The rancid calls stood and the globe groaned in unison: Why wouldn't you want to get such monumental decisions right? Why is there a fear of using instant replay? What is FIFA, the sport's governing body, possibly thinking?
All legitimate questions. Well, what say you FIFA?
Back in December, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said replay wouldn't happen during our lifetimes. No way, no how : "Please do not insist on the technology," he said. "Referees shall remain human, and we will not have monitors to stop the game to see if we are right or wrong. There will be no more discussion [between fans] and then no more hope and then no more life."
Right. Because after the NFL instituted replay you saw how fans just stopped discussing the games. Great point, Sepp.
And even after these tainted World Cup games, FIFA did its typical squishy, spineless really-say-nothing backpedaling. On Tuesday, Blatter apologized for the poor officiating and said it would at least examine the idea of instant replay after the World Cup. What is there to examine, Sepp? We have a tool that would help you get the games right. Why resist this? It's only your sport's entire credibility at stake.
So while other sports employ replay so they get big calls right and avoid cries of bias, soccer remains a lone wolf that refuses to adopt video technology.
The thing is, this really doesn't have to be that difficult.
Here's how you solve the problem:
1. Allow video confirmation of all goals. Scoring is rare in soccer so while teams spend five minutes doing the samba or leaping all over Maradona's suit, have the fourth official confirm that (a) the ball clearly crossed the goal line and (b) the goal was not scored via an obvious offsides violation. This would take all of 10 seconds for 95 percent of goals. If the video is inconclusive, the call on the field stands.
2. All fouls in the penalty box are reviewed. Again, these are rare -- but awarding a penalty kick is too important to get incorrect. Because of flopping and diving, referees must be sure they aren't duped by players. If a player is caught cheating (flopping) inside the penalty box, he is given a straight red card. Again, if the video is inconclusive, the call on the field stands.
That's it. Problem solved. Game over.