AHEAD OF THE GAME: FIFA worries about Hawk-eye's reliability in Qatar

AHEAD OF THE GAME: Fear of fan dissent during Queen tributes was a factor behind the Premier League’s shutdown… as FIFA worries about Hawk-eye’s reliability at the World Cup

  • This weekend’s Premier League fixtures were postponed to respect the Queen
  • Fear that tributes may not have been fully respected was a factor in the decision
  • Clubs held talks about providing warm areas for retired and unemployed fans
  • FIFA have raised concerns about the reliability of Hawk-Eye at the World Cup

Concern that tributes to the Queen may not have been universally respected — and the potential for global embarrassment in the event of any dissent from fans — was a factor in the decision to call off all football in the United Kingdom this weekend.

A number of Shamrock Rovers supporters caused outrage by singing offensive songs during their Europa Conference League game against Swedish club Djurgardens on Thursday evening. 

And while their actions are likely to have stemmed from Irish Republican sentiment, the fact that some English clubs also have politicised elements of their fan base was mentioned in the discussions over football’s shutdown.

The Premier League postponed this weekend’s fixtures as a mark of respect for the Queen

Fear that tributes to the Queen may not have been fully respected was a factor in the decision

Several Premier League clubs appear to have implicitly recognised this danger themselves, as they opted to disable the reply function on Twitter after posting messages of condolence to the Royal Family on Thursday evening. 

This was presumably an attempt to avoid inciting a backlash from anti-monarchists on a forum that is not renowned for reasoned debate.

CLUBS COULD OFFER WINTER AID 

A number of Premier League clubs have held talks about opening areas of their grounds on non-matchdays this winter to provide warm areas for retired and unemployed fans who may be struggling to heat their homes due to the huge increase in their energy bills. 

While many EFL clubs are worried about being able to pay their own heating and lighting bills over the next few months, such concerns do not apply to the Premier League given their broadcasting, commercial and ticketing income. 

Many clubs responded admirably during the pandemic by transforming themselves into community hubs, offering their services as Covid-testing sites and food banks, and several of them are now considering how they can help alleviate suffering caused by the energy crisis. 

FIFA FEAR HAWK-EYE HOWLERS

FIFA officials have expressed concern about the reliability of Hawk-Eye following a string of recent failures in various sports — but have no plans to change their tech provider before the World Cup.

The British-based firm have the contract to operate VAR, goal-line technology and the new semi-automated offside system that will be used for the first time in Qatar this winter, leading to fears of a high-profile error causing embarrassment at the World Cup.

Hawk-Eye issued an apology to Huddersfield Town earlier this week after their technology failed to show that Yuta Nakayama’s shot had crossed the line in their 1-0 defeat by Blackpool.

A similar incident occurred when Sheffield United were denied a legitimate goal that had clearly crossed the line in a Premier League game at Aston Villa two years ago.

Hawk-Eye apologised after their technology ruled out Yuta Nakayama’s goal for Huddersfield

Hawk-Eye have been responsible for several errors since then and were dropped at short notice for this summer’s All-Ireland gaelic football semi-final between Dublin and Kerry after they failed to spot that the ball had gone between the posts in the other last-four match.

In addition to these errors, industry insiders have highlighted the fact that Hawk-Eye utilise just 14 cameras, while some of their rivals have more than 60. FIFA have used Hawkeye since the 2018 World Cup and will not drop them at this late stage, but will intensify testing procedures before their showpiece event.

WREXHAM ROW RUMBLES ON

The National League appear to have resorted to acts of censorship in their ongoing row with Wrexham, who have been frustrated by the authorities in their attempts to live-stream their matches in a bid to grow their fan base. 

As part of a long-standing arrangement, the Non-League Paper sent an opinion piece to clubs for publication in their matchday programmes this week which was broadly supportive of Wrexham’s proposals. But 24 hours later they received an instruction from the Non-League Paper that it should be replaced by another article analysing the transfer window. 

‘Apologies but please discard yesterday’s column and use the below instead,’ read a message from the paper’s publishers, Greenway Publishing. The National League are due to meet on Thursday to discuss a league-wide streaming plan. 

Hollywood duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham in November 2020




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