First Whistle – March 2012

The onset of Spring brings with it rebirth, renewal and regrowth. And so is Goalden Times reinventing itself while keeping pace with the winds of change. Well, the Armani’s, Dior’s and Saint Laurent’s may not be around to drape us with a new look, but we can redesign our outfit, alright. Hope you like our brand new attire! And don’t mind us being fashionably late…

In other news, the Ides of March brought evil tidings for clubs from England. Widely acknowledged as the most competitive league in Europe, the Premier League suffered one reverse after another, the worst being Athletic Bilbao sweeping aside the English champions Manchester United through some exceptional football. It would have lost its entire stock of clubs in Europe, but for a miraculous comeback by Chelsea in a pulsating thriller with Napoli. Having fired their manager, the old hands of Chelsea turned the clock back to produce vital performances. Elsewhere, it was a celebration of Michel Platini’s efforts to empower the clubs from outside the traditional powerhouse leagues. Apoel FC from Nicosia is a poster boy for this, reaching the Champions League quarter-finals where they will be up against the might of Real Madrid. Traditional giants AC Milan and Bayern Munich also made their presence felt. Mario Gomez was no match for Lionel Messi who slammed, slalomed, crashed, walloped and blazed five past Bayer Leverkusen. Milan against Barcelona would be the tie of the quarter-finals but having faced each other in group stages, many would have argued that UEFA needs to relook at the system.

Domestically, most leagues threw up two-horse races. Milan leads Juventus in Serie A, the Manchester clubs are separated by one point in Premier League, Borussia Dortmund have advantage over Bayern Munich in Bundesliga, Paris Saint-Germain have a slender lead over Montpellier and Porto lead over Benfica in Primeira Liga. In La Liga though, Real Madrid’s eight point lead over Barcelona seems to have already ensured another league win for Jose Mourinho.

Juventus remained the only club among the big leagues to remain unbeaten across all competitions, though having drawn more than they have won, their title hopes are dependent on Milan suffering reverses. One such ‘reverse’ for Milan was when this happened in the title clash with Juventus, leading to increasing calls for goal-line technology.

Liverpool managed to grab their first trophy in six years, winning the League Cup beating Cardiff City in tiebreaker, thus ensuring their participation in European competitions after a year’s absence.

On the other side of the globe, in India, the fourth oldest cup competition in the world (started in 1893), the IFA Shield was won by local giants East Bengal. The win is memorable for it came in the centenary year of the first ever win of the Shield by an Indian team – ironically, East Bengal’s archrivals, Mohun Bagan.

With the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and various domestic tussles in Europe, the next four weeks look promising. We shall be around to bring you all the riveting updates.

Follow football, follow us!

First Past the Post

When the biggest clash of the season between two of the biggest club rivals of all time gets marred by a linesman’s sleepwalking mistake, Gino de Blasio wonders why the beautiful game can’t have this simple touch of technology

I originally wrote this piece for my blog, only moments following a game so tense coal would turn to diamonds and so defile of the Italian league that prose and match analysis have taken a wild beast of the situation. The thing I realise about football everyday and as the years pass before me, is that, it truly is a global game, where the ramifications are more than just one man and his thoughts (even including his assistants), but those of a joined community in the 21st century.

My problem wasn’t and still isn’t that it was my team involved, nor the colours of Juventus FC that were in this whole debacle of what otherwise was an entertaining game. No, my quarrel is with the higher echelons of power in football, and more precisely the lack of video technology in football. There have been some “difficulties” cited in implementation but I believe that the pain of implementing this will far outweigh any that comes from having to endure stinkers.

My Thoughts

We live in a world of instant communication, smartphones, social media, men to the moon and back. We live in a world of 24 hour news, video cameras on and in everything, global transactions with the push of a button and applications.

And yet, in this very same world we have no answer, yes no answer to whether a ball has crossed a line or not.


What the linesman is doing I shall never know

It goes to show how far behind the times FIFA and UEFA are. It really does. We are relying on humans to do the job that a computer has a purpose for.

Is it any surprise that the weekend after this incident, there were two very similar instances in Serie A, and the referee’s assistants did give the goal? It seems the pressure applied at the time by media, football teams and even the referees’ association had an impact but it seems even more evident that one man can’t be tasked with such a job – they are, like all human beings, fallible.

And so for me, the question remains; the more these associations strive to keep football away from technology, the more we search for an answer as to why.

A Call to the Twitter World

I thought to ask one of the outlets of this new technology world to see what my peers thought of it all. Here were just some thoughts:


It’s absolutely necessary and simple to implement. Coaches should be allowed 2 challenges per game (NFL) to go to video replay.”


thats (goal line technology) the only case id put technology on football”


Goal line tech=waste of cash&time. TV evidence & 3officials in the stands in coms with officials when called upon. Easy solution 4 all”

Whilst I can agree with some of the statements and thoughts, I think what is evident is that people want it on the whole, it seems only the echelons don’t.

My Answer

I said this 13 or so years ago at school after watching a tennis match. “Why can’t we have a sensor in the ball, one in the cross bar that goes over the line, when the ball goes beyond the line, a light flashes behind the goal to say it went in”. You can see why I never took science and technology up after that comment, but the basic theory was there.

Is it the perfect solution? Probably not. But all I want is to see something introduced to take doubt away from the game in something so manageable.

Final Thoughts

All we, as football fans want is a fair game. Milan vs. Juventus showed that. Yes, Juventus had probably an offside called against them that they shouldn’t, and I am not asking to solve that question either. Offside is harder, can probably still be done by computers, but this… this is simple.

A simple solution to take away doubt, restore some sanity and leave football looking great as ever.

* Title courtesy: @ginkers – grazie amico!