Just in case you do not know who Smith is (or was), he was a Scottish forward who started his career with Kilmarnock in 1972 before moving to Rangers in 1977. In the early 80's he headed to the south of England and joined Brighton. In the 1983 FA Cup Final he scored for the Seagulls against Manchester United in the 2-2 draw but is more famous for his last minute miss that would have won his club the cup as United won the replay 4-0. He had a spell at Manchester City in the mid-80's scoring 13 goals in 42 games before winding down his playing career.
After retirement he was assistant manager at St. Mirren and then saw his career path take a turn towards the media and football agency work. He then took up a position as chief executive of the Scottish FA and then as director of football at Rangers but left earlier this year soon after the club went into administration.
It is his time at the Scottish FA that interests me the most in this article because he revealed some revealing information regarding technology in the game and also what is really going on behind the scenes regarding the forthcoming Olympics and the British football team.
Smith makes a great point if both UEFA and FIFA are using the excuse of not introducing technology if it cannot be used by all right down to grass roots level football. Ask a Sunday league footballer if he has played a game under floodlights in his league, ask him if the referee wears an ear piece, even ask him if his team have an official referee turn up every week!
The topic of goal line technology has reared its ugly head yet again after what we saw at Bolton a week ago. It's no good arguing that things were levelled out because QPR then scored a goal that was offside – that really is irrelevant and we see decisions regarding offsides made in every game in every week and many are right and others are wrong. Think back to the 2010 World Cup and the infamous Frank Lampard incident against Germany. If that goal had been given it would have meant England would have gone in at half-time at 2-2 and with momentum. Perhaps the second half would have been different, I doubt it but we will never know now. Instead, if England had scored again late on to make it 2-4 with an offside goal would it then of made any difference?
I do agree entirely though that the game should never ever get to the stage where it becomes stop/start because of technology. If the game had to be stopped for a decision to be made by reviewing video I think is wrong and is just a few steps away from commercial breaks taking place during the match. But if as stated in this interview technology can be used with the referee being told within a second or two whether or not a ball has crossed the goal line or not then the flow of the game will not be affected at all and hopefully the correct decision will be made.
Goal line technology of this level can surely only be a good thing but at this moment in time I do not see a way to implement it anywhere else. If people want to debate issues in the game they still can as I am sure that there will be many instances of offsides, hand-balls, penalty decisions in general etc that will still raise many a debate for many years to come. If we start to install technology in those areas as well the only way that it will work is if it is full-proof and is also able to give the referee the right decision within a second or two. Right now as far as I know that technology does not exist.
I am also opposed to managers being given the right to an appeals practice like we see in tennis when players are allowed to challenge a decision up to three times per set. Tennis is a very different game to football and this type of sport can easily use this because the play has natural stoppages in it between each point enabling it to have time to review without changing the game. Imagine a long rally though and three or four shots in a player is not sure if the ball was in or out but hits it back to continue the rally. Nor he or the umpire can stop the game until after the point is completed to settle this scenario as they are not going to do this mid-point. The same applies to other sports such as cricket and rugby. How could you do it in football? It is even possible that by the time that the ball does go out of play that a team may have scored at the other end and three or so fouls may have been committed resulting in a player being yellow or red carded. If they then have to pull the game back because technology proves that the game should have stopped prior to any of this happening – does all that then followed still count?
With a one – possibly two second at most technology that is going to give us a correct and decisive ruling all of this is ruled out and no possible harm is done. As it is we have seen on many occasions the referee take longer than this to blow his whistle as it is. If this is true it has to be a good thing for the game and under these guidelines would definitely work and for anybody to question it so they can debate it and feel lucky or unlucky over a pint is just ridiculous – as barmy as FIFA using the excuse of it not being available to all football and therefore not permitting it.
Is England a country? Look it up on the internet or in an encyclopedia and it will tell you yes it is so you would think that it is clear cut for English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish then – but no. For one thing I do not have an English passport – I have a British passport so what is Great Britain? Again, look it up and the information that you will find will also tell you that Britain is the largest island of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Look up the United Kingdom (or UK) and it is described as “a sovereign state located off of the north-western coast of continental Europe which included the island of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and many smaller islands.
With all the history and rivalry between the countries within the island within the sovereign state (are you following this?) is it any wonder we don't really know where we are at when it comes to any type of sport? In sports such as football we compete individually, in rugby we compete individually and as Great Britain. In the Olympics we compete as Great Britain and in Euro-Vision we compete as the UK! Then of top of that of course we have the Commonwealth! What chance have we ever got of sorting this mess out? Smith hints that there are other countries around the world that would want us to compete as Britain only in future at all events. Whether you are English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish I cannot see anybody wanting this to ever happen because each individual country needs to stick to and continue its own identity. Its one thing having the word “British” on the front of your passport but another matter entirely if any other identity is just simply terminated – we are not having it! In fact I would go the other way and make us compete in all sports etc as individual countries – lets have England and Scotland competing seperately at the Olympics and so on – why not? Its the easiest and best solution!