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ESPN360.com World Cup, Stoppage, and Instant Replay

roadskater's picture

Just when it seemed hopeless to hear an English language broadcast of the World Cup, I heard a mention on ABC of their other network's website's coverage on http://espn360.com. I had been watching the coverage on Univision and on http://fifaworldcup.com but honestly I can barely catch a word from the Spanish language broadcast. Yes I am ashamed of this lack of language skills, having variously taken French (high school), German (undergrad) and Spanish (an elective during grad school). Whatever skills I do have and have developed, these are not really among those.

In any case, the ESPN360.com website is pretty interesting and I was also able to catch up on video I don't see over and over and over again as I did when I had all those cable channels. It's good to see some of that, and not to see it 100 times as I leave the same channel on while engaged in some task enough to not do anything else, including reduce distractions.

Several games in the FIFA World Cup suffered from what my untrained mind thinks were very bad calls, especially in key situations.

In addition to that, I notice again that any team ahead in score is way more likely to suffer wincing injuries that cause them to roll in pain. These fake injuries and one-goal-ahead cramps do not seem to "interrupt the flow of the game" for winning fans, even though it often takes more time than watching a reply might.

The flow of the game is definitely disrupted by stalling teams, who know that "stoppage time" will never be as much as the amount of stoppage, so they benefit from whining and wincing and winking their way through.

The flow of the game would not be any more interrupted if an official off-field kept a clock of stoppage time which would be visible to all. Either the game has stoppage time or it does not. If it has any, it should have the amount by which the game was delayed. I understand not wanting to "stop the clock," but really, stoppage time is exactly that, just by a mystery amount, subject to manipulation and inaccuracy.

The flow of the game would not be any more interrupted by off-field video review by an official or trio of officials than it is by thumb-sucking, pyramid-building or other self-aggrandizing displays that make the game fun but take up time, obviously.

Surely there could be limits on the number of challenges, and to the situations that might be challenged, and considering the nature of soccer, the game might even be allowed to continue while a call is under review except in the last few minutes of a game. Usually such a delayed review would have little effect except it might reduce the time-wasting on the part of a team who just scored and keep them playing instead of delaying.

I'm not smart enough to figure all the details, but I know as a fan I LOVE the game except for the parts that would be improved by off-field review and off-field stoppage time tracking. The fake-foul diving and card-producing acting interrupt the flow, as does the stalling, and bad calls that produce penalty kicks and free kicks and other game-altering conditions, like ejections, could be greatly reduced with the two improvements.

Tracking the real stoppage could reduce stoppage, and by providing more actual playing time and with more incentive to play, it might reduce the number of games decided by penalty kicks as well. And if it didn't, I would rather see the teams play until someone scores. If the players knew they had to play until they scored, they might try to score (or at very least they might let the other team score)!


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