As somebody with a vehement aversion to confrontation of any description, it’s somewhat anathema to contend that controversy is strangely an intrinsic part of many parts of life. For instance, it’s only by kicking up a storm that farmers will obtain fair prices for their produce. Politicians prosper, mostly, due to the misfortune of their counterparts. In sport, it very often takes a rumpus to bring about necessary change.
After Joe Sheridan’s goal in the 2010 Leinster Final, I was of the view that it was the watershed moment that would, belatedly, instigate the introduction of a TMO in GAA. Thus far, it hasn’t arrived in a fully fledged form. However, instinct is to feel that the deployment of the HawkEye system – contentious in itself – is merely a precursor to the inevitable adopting of the video referee.
Over the years, the guardians of Ireland’s national games have, to their credit, been willing to take aboard stipulations utilised in other codes which have resulted in the betterment of GAA. Now, though, the cyclical nature of things dictates that other sports could do far worse than copy what transpires here.
Soccer’s acquiescence to the need for the use of technology in its governance has already been exposed as falling well short of what’s essentially required to put the game on the footing it should be. Goal line adjudication has already been proven prone to malfunction. That notwithstanding, evidence is becoming voluminous that some point of referral is required for contentious calls other than whether scores were valid or not.
Even allowing for the initiatives that have been undertaken regarding goal line decisions, previous experience and cognisance of the reality that the veneer of murkiness – and that’s being charitable – which envelopes football at the highest level would leave hopes of atonement for misdeeds actually occurring rather forlorn.
If accepted and dealt with properly, good can emanate from controversy. Highlighting malpractice takes courage on the part of journalists, other media outlets and those close to the inner sanctum of where the wrong is being perpetrated. What that, in turn, does is dislodge those in positions of power from their cushy pedestals.
Evasive repugnance usually follows as – in the case of those currently in control of soccer at the highest level – the preferred method of recourse is to feign the non existence of contentious matters or, at best, sweep them under the carpet. Unfortunately for the power brokers but blessedly for the good of the game, what’s under the carpet will eventually bubble to the surface.
Patriotic bias enables one to all too easily recall the reprehensible farce that allowed Thierry Henry and France dodge sanction for the outrageous transgression of playing regulations which denied Ireland their rightful passage to the last World Cup.
Thus, bland passivism regarding what could reasonably be described as a plethora of grave miscalculations by match officials in the opening days of the current battle for what was once the Jules Rimet Trophy is unfortunately unsurprising. Neither, more worryingly, however, was it much of a shock to learn that impropriety dominated much of the process to assign the location for the 2022 World Cup.
A basic perquisite for any good business practice should surely be the astute application of common sense. Were that the case, there’d be a need to be transfixed in some illusory dimension not to deduce that high level collaborative nefariousness was the catalyst for Qatar being awarded the tournament.
Natural justice can only decree that a re-enactment of the selection process be the only plausible restitution. Knowledge of the propensity of those in control of football to deem doing the right thing perfunctory regrettably reduces the chances of the unscrupulous behaviour of those complicit in the shady dealings surrounding the process being subjected to censure.
Extreme restraint needs to be exercised in order not to become slightly disillusioned at the repeated galloping of the line proclaiming the World Cup to be “The greatest show on earth”. Notwithstanding the fact that the vast array of sports on show in the Olympic Games surely entitles that event to greater claim on the tagline, for the undoubted abundance of good football on show thus far, in some ways, viewing it without at least a tinge of a sour taste would take quite a quantity of mouth wash!