Technology in Football – Yes or No?

By , Posted on 13th January 2012 - Posted in: Football News, News

Any England fans out there still smarting over Frank Lampard’s goal that wasn’t in the 2010 World Cup? How about you Chelsea supporters? Still sore over Luis Garcia’s winner for Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League semi-final, 2005?

I thought so.

It’s the subject that won’t go away. We’ve all seen those contentious incidents when no one seems sure whether or not a ball has crossed the goal line. The rules of physics say it’s either crossed or it hasn’t, but every now and then, if the ball isn’t decisively lashed into the back of the net, it’s not so easy to ascertain exactly what’s happened. In a fast moving game, with no high definition action replays on hand, the referee is left with the thankless task of making a judgement call.

Now finally it seems FIFA are to answer the increasing clamour to introduce goal line technology into the game in an attempt to eliminate the so-called ‘ghost goal’ syndrome. By July this year they will make a decision (no one could ever accuse them of rushing into things) about how it’s all going to work, but already the Scottish Premier League (perhaps desperate to be noticed for something other than Old Firm bigotry?) have offered up their league as a guinea pig to trial this new technology.

Ok, so far so good. It seems a no-brainer. We all want to know one way or another whether a ball has crossed the line, and if tennis and cricket, two sports which have long since made use of similar technology, can get their acts together why not football?

I’m a little uneasy though. Yes, that Lampard incident was pretty clear cut, but goals as difficult to call as the Garcia one (indecisive even after hundreds of replays) will remain a problem. We’re just going to introduce a finer degree of confusion where ultimately a referee is still going to have to make a subjective call, one way or another. If the video footage prove inconclusive, what then?

I feel the authority of the referee must remain untouched. Introducing technology such as this may be the thin end of a wedge that sees referees abdicate more and more responsibility on the pitch. Will that ultimately make them less efficient in other areas of the game? If he knows he can defer all big decisions to someone in the stands then what are the implications? Already we have seen problems with cricket umpires turning automatically to an off field third umpire, a man armed with action replay screens, to make decisions that they should be making down on the square. It doesn’t particularly enhance the game.

As long as he’s seen to have integrity and is attempting to make honest judgements, there is something in the human fallibility of a referee or an umpire that appeals and lies at the core of what sport is all about. To my mind it would be a shame if in the rush to embrace technological advances we undermined that. I do agree that it’s about time we explored the possibility of what can be done to help the man in the middle. We should however, tread very carefully with it.


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