Posted on Wednesday, 27th July 2011 by Mike Holmes
I read recently that those blustering idiots at FIFA have denied Arsenal permission to use goal-line technology during our annual pre-season tournament; The Emirates Cup.
Whilst this decision means we won’t be able to watch the tech in action, it is good to see that Arsenal are one of the clubs pushing for its introduction.
Football, the most popular sport on the planet, still hasn’t managed to get its collective head around technology. There are currently football matches being decided on the intuition and guess work of referees, and often this means results going against the wrong teams. When there is so much at stake for clubs, I find it laughable that we haven’t managed to work a way around the minor complications of having video referees and goal-line tech in the modern game.
Call me cynical, but it’s almost as if people in authority at FIFA are resistant to change because of the fairness this technology might bring to smaller clubs. Teams will have more chance of a fair game at the Camp Nou or Old Trafford, if they know that penalty and offside decisions will be accurately distributed. Also, imagine if, during a break in play, the ref could go back and review suspected dives and dangerous tackles. We could clean up the game with one stroke.
I know that this is one issue that polarises opinion in all quarters. As you can all see, I am definitely in favour of introducing new ideas. I appreciate the counter-arguments; it would slow the game down too much, it would take away something from the experience, etc etc etc. I just can’t agree with them.
Football is riddled with corruption and we have a chance to make the most important thing in the game – the result – consistently accurate (and whilst we’ll never completely eradicate human error from the game, we can at least remove a majority of it).
Reading these reports about The Emirates Cup (and our attempts of experimenting with the way the game is officiated) has reminded me of just one the many reasons that I’m proud to support Arsenal: We are once again at the forefront of innovation in the sport.
Back in the 1920’s and 30′s, Herbert Chapman was in charge of the club. As I’m sure most of you know, he was one of our most successful managers. He was instrumental in the clock being put up at Highbury so players could see how long was left in the game. He also put numbers on the back of shirts and the now familiar white sleeves so players could identify each other more easily. Chapman also put up score boards and floodlights, improvements that were widely copied by clubs all over the country. Tactically, Chapman was also very forward-thinking and his formations went on to become commonplace across the English leagues. These were all major innovations that changed the sport irrevocably. (For further information on Herbert Chapman CLICK HERE)
Now fast forward 60 years. We’ve got names above the numbers and sponsorships on the front of the shirts. Eventually, players began earning more and more (going from under-paid to grossly over-paid) and the television cameras have gotten better and better, but not much had really changed.
Premiership players in the 90′s routinely smoked and drank lots of booze. Many of them were pretty unfit by today’s standards.
Arsene Wenger came out of nowhere and changed all of that. He introduced new training methods. He introduced our lager-guzzling team to dieticians and in doing so prolonged the careers of several players. He brought in sports scientists, and he started to use statistical information to analyse team functionality. He modernised the game.
In a short time, he cracked Manchester United’s dominance of the league, making it a genuine two horse race. His management style was revolutionary; it took hardly any time at all for other managers to take note of Wenger’s methods. Many of the techniques that Wenger implemented at the club have since gone on to become common practice amongst top managers the world over. It is no coincidence that Wenger’s arrival heralded a golden age in English football; the Premier League has become one of the most exciting leagues in the world, attracting top quality players and managers as well as supporters from all over the globe. The leagues attractiveness (to players and supporters alike) has much to do with the changes that have come about since Wenger took charge of our club, many of which he pioneered.
Looking back over the years, I doubt there can be many, if any, football clubs that could boast to having had such a profound effect on the game, as it is played today as Arsenal Football Club.
We are pioneers. Groundbreakers. Of this we should be very proud.
The footballing world is ever-changing, and our clubs versatility and adaptability means that when this current investment bubble bursts, and burst it will, we’re going to be in a very exciting position indeed.
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