Players copyrighting greatest moments would be own goal for the game

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2000, 12:00am

The 1990s were marked by an ever-burgeoning relationship between top-class soccer and the huge advances in audio-visual media.

That is continuing apace with reports of pay-per-view technology coming into effect in European leagues and clubs owning their own TV stations.

The announcement that Manchester United signed a shirt sponsorship deal worth ?30 million with Vodafone in February has opened up talk about fans being able to watch live football matches and buy replica kits through their mobile phones. Vodafone spokesmen said it would be four years before fans could watch a game live on their mobile phones but from August fans with Wap (wireless application protocol) phones will be able to receive news and latest scores direct from their handsets.

Mobile internet devices are set to overtake personal computers and TVs as the most popular way of accessing soccer matches and information.

This is an inevitable evolution of things driven by popular demand and would be a great service to many fans.

But another mooted development in the soccer-media axis is much less agreeable. That is the suggestion that players take out a copyright on the video images of goals they score.

It would involve players being paid royalties for each occasion a particular goal is used by their own club or broadcasters for promotional purposes. In essence, similar to actors' 'repeat' fees.

The examples most cited were the brilliant individual goals by Michael Owen for England against Argentina at the last World Cup and by Ryan Giggs for Manchester United against Arsenal in last year's FA Cup semi-final. The Giggs goal received numerous replays on CABLE TV in Hong Kong for months afterwards.

This seems an example of greed pure and simple and it poses numerous problematic questions. In the first place it would be a divisive element between forwards who score most goals and other members of the team. Soccer is still about teamwork, despite media efforts to make certain individuals bigger than the game.

The other thing is the question of credit. Not many goals are down solely to the efforts of one person. The Owen and Giggs examples are exceptions. But many great goals involve good buildup work, inter-passing and delivery of crosses before the final touch.