Video replays necessary in FIFA to catch cheaters

The past week has been a tumultuous one in the international soccer world, as more than a few strong contenders found themselves forced into playoffs whose outcomes ultimately decided their world cup status.In international soccer — or football, as the rest of the world knows it — there isn’t a bigger spectacle. Held every four years, the FIFA World Cup draws the top 32 international teams to the biggest tournament on earth, an event that normally draws the eyes of a few billion people.Although a few key squads have traditionally dominated the World Cup, that huge gap has been closing in the past few years. This time around, some previously unknown and unlikely contenders have arisen and were welcomed to the world stage.For example, the normally illustrious Italian team was defeated earlier this year in the Confederations Cup by a terrific Egyptian squad. Similarly, the up-and-coming Irish team brilliantly showed France, runner-up from the last World Cup, just how intimidating it has become as a team.Oh, wait.That’s not exactly how it happened. What really happened was that it was an extremely close game after Ireland tied the points in aggregate. Basically, whoever scored next would secure a bid to the World Cup; a glorious feat both sides had been working hard on for years.Late in the game, a French ball crossed into the Irish box and was in danger of overshooting the mark. Thierry Henry, a French striker and one of the most respected international football players, then handled the ball in an unorthodox manner — he prevented the ball from going out of bounds with the palm of his hands. The three officials were in blind spots and couldn’t see the “hand of shame” so when Henry passed it to a teammate to head it in and score, the referee allowed the “obvious” goal despite the strong appeals by not only the goalie and defenders but also thousands sitting in the stadium that saw the ordeal take place.This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in football. Diego Maradona famously tapped a ball in with his hand (the so called “hand of god” goal) to score a goal that ultimately gave Argentina the 1986 World Cup.It wasn’t fair back then and you can be sure it is still a ridiculous farce today.It’s easy to jump to a bizarre theory to explain all this, of course. Did FIFA just want to get France a guaranteed spot in the World Cup? Perhaps the Fédération Internationale de Football Association couldn’t stand to see a World Cup occur without its beloved Les Blues.All conspiracy theories put aside, this situation does present a huge problem with not only football but also some other major sports (Baseball, I am looking directly at you). The human officials are not enough as we clearly see time and time again. It’s getting a little ridiculous, but what’s even worse is that no one is acknowledging that a problem does indeed exist.There’s something wrong with football. And until that problem is solved we can’t give the competing teams a fair and balanced game play, which is the one common promise that is characteristic of all sports. Although I am not going to pretend to know what the solution is, I suggest video replays be permitted, allowing for extra reviews in the dead minutes after a goal is scored.Then and only then can international football return to being the fair, fun, competitive sport that I, along with billions, so strongly love.Meanwhile, let’s see how many more players can creatively and secretively get away with using their hands in football, joining that oh so prestigious club of Henry, Maradona and Lionel Messi.

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