Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

You know him, you love him. John "Hannibal" Smith leader of the A-Team (played by George Peppard).

For those that do not have a clue about the reference, here is a Wikipedia entry on the topic.

What Hannibal was famous for was always having a plan going  in to a situation. Granted, that plan may not get followed by the end of the episode, but at least there was a starting point.

This is diametrically opposed to Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford), another one of my fictional heroes (and who was just at Comic-Con, for those that follow that stuff) who is known for his "figuring stuff out on the fly" mentality.

So why do I bring this up at all?

Well, I was poking around the FIFA site and came across the background paper for the additional AR experiment I blogged about the other day. There were a couple of interesting points in it. For those interested, the document can be located here on the FIFA site.

First was the depth of the paper, which was really non-existent. I was surprised for such (at least in my head) a dramatic change that it was light on detail. Of the (3) page document there was about (1 1/2) pages of true background, a (1/2) page picture and about (1/2) page of substance.

The instructions were interesting too. In essence there are (2) more ARs opposite of the "real ARs", they carry no flags, yet have a radio to communicate, and are there, it would seem, mostly for fouls. Frankly it is not clear but is strongly implied with the position directions given in the memo.

Interesting however that ARs will be used in these cases (this is explicit in the memo) and not referees. This is odd to me as you are asking the folks dedicated to calling offsides now calling probably the most tactical fouls on the pitch ... in the attacking 1/3 and behind the referee.

Don't get me wrong, ARs are more than capable, especially the ones I have had the pleasure to work with. I am just curious about the choice.

Another thing that struck me was the on field presence of these folks. There was no talk of "off the field help". I am not surprised, but would be if it remained that way after the IFAB meeting in October.

I applaud FIFA for experimenting as it is clear they need to in order to continue to elevate the game. That said I am a traditionalist and the "3 man system" is very effective when done correctly, and with the augmentation of technology or even a booth official of sorts, may make it that much better. While not traditional per se, it will do more good than harm in my opinion.

My only hope is that FIFA thought this one through and is approaching this in more of a "Hannibal" method than an "Indy" one. Both will get results, no doubt, but if a controlled experiment is what they are after, to make a decision about the future of refereeing as we know it, the details in the background paper were a little thin to give me confidence that this will be the case. I will be interested in the days ahead to watch some of these matches and see how effective this strain of the "4 man" system is.

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