Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Candidacy and Part 1 of Why Platini should not be FIFA President

Sepp Blatter is reportedly standing down from the FIFA Presidency in 2015 and current UEFA President Michel Platini is seen as the most likely person to replace him.

As a football fan of over 40 years, I'm happy to see the end of the Blatter presidency, but as for Platini becoming the new President, I'm afraid I can't let that happen.

I, Steve Grey, am therefore announcing today my candidacy for the 2015 FIFA Presidential election.

Over the coming weeks, months and years I will not only present my manifesto and my credentials; I will also discuss what I believe is wrong with FIFA.  As more issues are raised as time passes, I will outline my thoughts and some possible solutions.

In due course I will discuss governance issues such as corruption, transparency, accountability and fairness, as well as football-specific issues such as refereeing, diving, World Cup qualifying allocations and stoppage time.

Right now, all of that can wait.

The 2012 European Championships have brought to a head a number of important issues, some of which do not reflect well upon Michel Platini.

Having watched the Ukraine versus England match yesterday, foremost in my mind  and no doubt in the minds of thousands, if not millions, of other fans, is goal-line technology.

With England leading 1-0, English defender John Terry raced back to his goal-line to successfully clear an attempt by Ukraine's Marco Devic off the line.  Or at least, that's what officially happened, because play continued and no goal was awarded.

Television replays, however, confirmed that the ball had indeed crossed the line and that a goal should have been awarded.  (At this point I am not discussing whether the Ukrainian forward Devic was offside when originally receiving the ball.  That's a separate discussion for another time.)

This is just the latest in a string of controversial goal-line incidents stretching back years.  England's national team has also been involved in two of the most infamous such incidents.

In the 1966 World Cup Final, Geoff Hurst's shot hit the crossbar and bounced down.  The linesmen awarded the goal, giving England a crucial 3-2 lead against West Germany, even though none of the television footage provides any evidence that the ball crossed the line and in fact suggests that it in all likelihood wasn't a goal.

In the 2010 World Cup, in a second round match between England and Germany, England's Frank Lampard shot the ball against the cross-bar.  Television replays showed that the ball had comfortably crossed the line before it was hooked out by Germany's goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer.  However, on this occasion, England were denied a goal that would have made the score 2-2, and possibly changed the momentum of the match.  Germany went on to win 4-1.

The 2010 incident, in conjunction with a handful of other controversies, led to an increasing clamour for goal-line technology to be introduced.  Even Sepp Blatter, who had previously opposed the use of technology, changed his mind and started promoting the idea.

But Michel Platini steadfastly rejected the idea, instead promoting his idea of extra officials on the goal-line at each end of the field.  This system was trialled in European club matches in 2011-12, with many commentators noting that the officials didn't seem to do anything.  This view continued into Euro 2012 with various penalty-area offences such as holding not being penalised, despite the extra officials.

And then, during Italy's game against Ireland, Italy scored from a corner with the ball marginally crossing the line before being cleared by Damien Duff.  The decision to award the goal was correct, and shortly after Platini appeared in the media trumpeting the success of the extra officials.

He told reporters in Warsaw: "With five, officials see everything. They don't take decisions without being fully aware."

The next day, we had the Ukraine/England fiasco.  The fifth official was standing on the goal-line, maybe ten yards from the ball, with no-one obscuring his view,  yet he failed to make the correct call.

On this critical football issue, Platini had been horribly wrong.

Michel Platini 0 Most Football Fans 1.