Goal-Line Tech: Is it Actually Needed?
Euro 2012, England v Ukraine. Another game, another “goal” not given and the seemingly incessant cry for goal line technology is reignited. I feel sorry for the officials, even the much abused extra officials who parade the touchlines.The ball moves quickly, often through a sea of players, and the views of the referee’s assistants are often obscured by the goal posts. It seems a no-brainer that the technology that is available should be introduced to help out the poor officials, who always come in for so much stick for making an error, often at the end of the day just reflecting the fallibility of humans. However, if we take a step back from the knee-jerk reactions, and think more carefully about things, is technology really the answer? Will it help the game? Or will it actually damage it as a spectacle, and take away a bit of the magic that makes it the planet’s most popular sport?
While Blatter is proclaiming goal line technology as an idea whose time has come, UEFA’s Platini is seemingly a little more hesitant. He was quoted as saying after the England – Ukraine game that the problem is not goal line technology, but the arrival of technology in the game. He believes it will eventually creep away from just ‘was it over the goal-line’ questions to all aspects of play.
The Ukraine’s “goal” is a perfect example of this. It was “scored” after a player had been allowed to continue even though he was offside. If technology was being used to judge goals, wouldn’t England be demanding that, in future, offside decisions should also be reviewed by the cameras? After a few similar situations the call for technology to be introduced for reviewing offside decisions would be unstoppable; and on it would go in every area where there is contention. Was it a penalty? Was it handball? Is it a throw in? The game would become so stop-start that not only would it no longer be the game that thrills us now, but it would drag on for hours. Also, imagine the pressure on the referee who already is surrounded by a baying mob most times he makes a tough decision. This is when he isn’t going to change his mind, imagine the reaction if the players felt they could get a decision reviewed off pitch.
Another question is cost. At what levels do we introduce the technology, just in the Premier League? Then what do we do in the FA Cup, where theoretically a Sunday league amateur team could play a top division side? Do we only allow games to be played at grounds equipped with the technology? Similarly, on an international level, there will no doubt be an insistence that World Cup qualifying games are played using technology, but how can this be implemented worldwide? I don’t know what the rest of the world is like, but I’m sure that there are other areas like Oceania countries, where their international games are played in arenas resembling little more than municipal parks, and the money certainly isn’t there to spend on little used technology.
All the talk about bad refereeing damaging the game is nonsense. Referees have always made mistakes, and if this damaged the integrity of the game, football would have been dead and buried years ago. Instead it is just as popular now, possibly more popular, worldwide as it ever was.
At then end of the day football is about entertainment and raising passions, and how many times have your passions been raised by a dubious refereeing decision? It’s one of the things, if we’re honest, we love about the game.