“A football match is never over before the final whistle. » The outcome of France-Tunisia, Wednesday, November 30, belied this old adage. Even after the three whistles, a fourth – theatrical – is still possible. The French Federation has lodged an appeal, not relating to the questionable interpretation of the offside rule which led to the cancellation of Antoine Griezmann’s goal, but to the intervention of the video referees, unlawful since the game had resumed in the meantime.
In this case, a correction of the score would not change the identity and the order of the qualifiers. But the possibility that a sports or civil court decides on a result would mark a further step in the judicialization introduced by video-assisted arbitration (VAR).
In its hunt for errors that have become intolerable, the VAR has made its operators bailiffs measuring offsides to the centimeter and adopting a binary logic for contacts and hands in the area: everything that is found is sanctioned. To hell with the notion of interpretation – and that of intentionality, for the hands.
The match therefore finds itself under the constant threat of an appeal court. Goals are conditional, emotions too. The instantaneous joy – or disappointment – that the ball entered the net provided is now amputated by doubt. Even when the goal concludes a clear action, we go over it mentally, looking for the detail that could cancel everything. Petty thoughts come to us whether we fear or hope for invalidation.
This staging, is it football or television?
The emotions would be doubled by the addition of a decision in second instance, its expectation would create a tremendous suspense? They seem rather divided by two. And then, this staging, is it football or television?
To automate the arbitration a little more, we stack the devices based on sensors and cameras. The “semi-automatic offside”, adopted for this competition, tracks protruding kneecaps and toes, and delivers a synthetic image that is authentic. Technology or magic? Football’s Law 11 aims to prevent attackers from “camping” near the opposing box. It should only punish attackers who take an undue advantage over the defender, not a collarbone in an illegal position, like that of Dejan Lovren during Belgium-Croatia.
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The somewhat psychorigid supporters of this algorithmic justice are delighted with these verdicts, which certainly have the merit of settling, even with a machete, the innumerable dilemmas posed by each football match.
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