Now the FIFA 2010 World Cup is over, it is a good time to analyse what went well and what can be improved from the tournament, the first to be held on African soil.
The main issue to have come out of the tournament, and one which FIFA have already acknowledged is the debate on goal line technology. One glaring mistake in the England v Germany match where the ball was well over the line, left FIFA officials red faced and forced them to apologise to the English delegate. Prior to the tournament, FIFA had ruled that goal line technology was not required but it now looks inevitable that some kind of technological assistance will be available to officials in future major tournaments.
There is an old adage that if it is't broke, don't fix it. This almost certainly applies to the Jabulani ball used throughout the tournament. Whilst marketing would have been the main driver behind the use of such a ball, the fact remains that the manufacturer had tried something far too radical which had made the ball extremely difficult to control. Balls used all over the World prior to the tournament were far superior in terms of providing quality soccer. With hindsight, FIFA should have used one of these balls but still allowed the manufacturer to decorate the ball with their new graphics and logos, thus making the ball look like the one that was used but allowing it to perform more naturally.
On a positive note, FIFA's decision to allow the vuvuzela horns into games was probably a good one. Although in the early games there was a mixed reaction to them, people got used to them as the tournament went on, allowing everyone to share in the South African culture.
As with any tournament, there are going to be some games which are not as attractive as others and therefore not every seat will be sold. FIFA need to look at this and come up with schemes that enable most seats are filled. One way of accomplishing this would be to give the tickets away to local schoolchildren and provide discounted tickets to their parent or carer. FIFA has the image of the game to protect and with shots of the matches being beamed all around the world, it could be damaging for the long term future of the game if people are constantly seeing half empty stadiums. Although this scenario sounds ideal, FIFA need to be very careful so as not to upset fans who have already bought their tickets at premium prices.
During the Uruguay v Ghana quarter final, there was an incident, deep into extra time where a deliberate handball on the goal line prevented Ghana from scoring and progressing to the semi final. Although a penalty was awarded and subsequently missed, there was still a feeling of injustice around the footballing world. Although it is accepted that this is all part of soccer, FIFA would be wise to look at ways of taking this kind of action out of the game. A penalty goal has been talked about but this will probably not be introduced although a greater penalty in terms of longer suspension for the player involved should prove an effective deterrent.
Although things do need to change with the times, soccer is still a beautiful game with a lot going for it. It is important that we embrace the good things in the game and that it is not changed, purely for the sake of it.