The technology debate: Soccer fans vote yes!
52% of World Cup fans agree that FIFA should make use of technology to support on-field officiating BRYANSTON – Widely publicised and highly controversial decisions by match officials during the FIFA World Cup prompted leading market research company Synovate to canvass 300 World Cup fans who were visiting South Africa for the tournament.
The intention was to uncover supporters’ views of the officiating during the tournament and whether or not technology should be introduced to support referees.
While press and public support for introducing new technology appears to have been prolific, opinions were varied amongst some of the soccer fans present at South Africa’s tournament this year.
46% of those interviewed stated that the quality of officiating during the World Cup was “excellent” or “very good” whilst 19% stated it was “very poor”, the remainder rating it somewhere in-between.
Richard Rice, Sales and Marketing Director for Synovate states, “while the subject of technology in decision-making is a complex one, the opinion of the man in the street can be a persuasive factor when it comes to such a popular sport. One can certainly sympathise with FIFA having to make a decision that has a potential impact on many careers and ultimately affects the very nature of the beautiful game.”
52% of the fans interviewed agreed that FIFA should make use of technology to support on-field officiating, with only 11% disagreeing with the statement. “There is a relatively large group of unconvinced respondents, who probably did not take a strong position because of the generally high level of refereeing” comments Rice.
Synovate spoke to the General Manager of the ICC, David Richardson, for his comment on the results and the effect that technology could have on matches. Richardson stated, “… living in a technological age, the use of technology in the decision making process is inevitable. Exactly how it should be used and what technology should be used is extremely complicated, especially when embracing the use of technology for anything other than line decisions.
The cost thereof also precludes its use at anything but the highest levels. Accordingly, we have tried to embrace it in a way that does not compromise the role of those that officiate and does not de-skill them in any way.”
The highest support for technology came in the arena of the offside rule where 58% believe that technology could be used to confirm or negate offside decisions.
According to a recent article in the Business Day, South African football referees have called for more assistants during football matches, but have stopped short of suggesting that TV replays and technology-assisted refereeing be introduced.
Commenting on the use of technology in football, Richardson stated, “due to the nature of the game, perhaps cricket lends itself more than other sports to the use of technology due to the natural breaks in play. In a sport such as football, deciding where to draw the line on which referee decisions can be reviewed would, I imagine be extremely difficult.”
In considering whether technology has a role to play in cautions, 55% of respondents indicated that technology should be used on field to confirm whether red or yellow cards were fairly shown to a player and 54% believe that technology should be used after matches to allow a player’s appeal against a match ban to either be confirmed or nullified.
40% of soccer fans interviewed believe that introducing technology will only slow down the game and a further 49% believe that players should be content with decisions and not argue them, as the referee is the only one responsible for on-field decisions.
This sentiment was expressed further with half of the respondents agreeing that all international football matches, including the FIFA World Cup, will be fine without having to introduce television refereeing or additional technology.
About the survey
This survey was conducted using a face-to–face intercept method with 300 tourists who had travelled to South Africa for the purposes of the 2010 World Cup. Respondents were interviewed in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria between the dates of 11 June 2010 – 13 July 2010. This was included in a larger survey of 722 respondents who were asked about their general experience in South Africa.
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