USA-Slovenia Game Poster-Child for Instant Replay in Soccer


world cup ref

The USA’s disallowed goal against Slovenia may go down as one of the worst calls in sports history and may leave a sour taste in the mouths of USA fans for the rest of their lives. However, if the right action is taken by FIFA, it could be a blessing in disguise for the future of soccer. Sometimes there needs to be a catastrophe in order to perfect a system. We have seen this happen in other sports.

  • In the 1998 NFL Wild-Card Round, before there was instant replay, Jerry Rice blatantly lost the ball before his knees touched the ground, resulting in what should have been ruled as a fumble. However, he was ruled down before the ball popped out. This play paved the way for instant replay in the NFL.
  • Just recently, umpire Jim Joyce blew a call that cost Detroit’s pitcher, Armando Galarraga, a perfect game. Bud Selig came out after the game and said he would look further into instant replay in baseball. The MLB already has replay for home runs.

So, why is FIFA refusing to budge when it comes to replay?

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta


FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, says that soccer must have room for the human element.

If the human errors were only misjudged out-of-bounds calls or questionable fouls (which we have seen a lot of in this year’s World Cup), then I would agree with Blatter. Soccer is a fast, free-flowing game and would be made worse if the game was constantly interrupted for replay.

However, if time is stopped anyways when a goal is scored, wouldn’t it be the perfect time to review a close call?

This proposal would put only the most crucial of moments underneath the microscope, while still allowing the human element for less important calls during the game.

Soccer, just like any sport, needs an element of human error, but when that human error is directly affecting the outcomes of a game, change is needed.

While, USA fans are pleased to see that referee Koman Coulibaly may be relieved of his refereeing duties for the World Cup, this is avoiding the problem at hand. A system is at fault, not an individual, when a referee, who is calling his first World Cup game ever, is assigned to one of the USA’s most important matches in history. Scapegoating a referee, no matter how deserving, isn’t going to solve the problem. It’s not like this hasn’t happened to FIFA before.

Go back to qualifiers, when France beat Ireland with a handball goal by Thierry Henry. That “human error” caused a country to miss out on the World Cup and nothing was done by FIFA.

The NFL, NBA and  MLB have seen their fair share of poor calls. All of them came to the conclusion that sometimes you can’t afford human error. It’s time for FIFA to join the club.

Read more articles by Justin Mertes-Mistretta at

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