Football Article | Weighing in on goal-line technology ... posted 398 days ago online
We’re some twenty-two months on from Frank Lampard’s non-awarded goal at the last World Cup and the Chelsea man found himself on the favourable end of a controversy in last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur. Refereeing decisions have scarcely had a higher profile than they do at the moment.
Every time we have incidents like the two above, either when a perfectly good goal isn’t given or an instance when the ball never even remotely looks like it’s crossed the line and is awarded, further weight is added to the necessity of goal-line technology. It’s been high time such support was offered to match officials for a long while.
Spurs supporters play the role of victims well. And who can blame them? It’s more than seven years since Pedro Mendes caught out Roy Carroll at Old Trafford, but Mark Clattenburg didn’t give the goal. Refereeing colleague Martin Atkinson decided Juan Manuel Mata’s effort had crossed the line at Wembley when his own teammate John Terry blocked it before it could do so. Memories become somewhat longer when injustices repeat themselves.
FIFA, the sport’s governing body, have dragged their heels over the technology issue. In the UK there are foreign dictators who would get a higher approval rating than Sepp Blatter! His reign as world football’s boss has been marred by controversy and corruption. In the era when the game has become truly global, his conservatism and gaffes have left him friendless on our shores.
Lampard-gate probably did open Blatter’s eyes, but even so the strides that have been made since towards goal-line technology could not be described as proactive. Its introduction is still just a maybe for next season’s Premier League, but the public who pay to pack stadiums up and down the country and watch the top flight fixtures from the comfort of their armchairs want it and the punters’ clamour must be heeded.
The final stages of testing are in place, but technology still needs official approval. That may, and I stress may, be granted by the International Football Association Board when they meet to discuss this issue after Euro 2012, but there are no guarantees offered. It remains to be seen whether they bow to pressure, or, to put it another way, common sense.
Having technology such as a chip inside a football or not is a simple enough argument. Television replays, on the other hand, are a whole different ball game, no pun intended. What would the camera be used to analyse? Just goals or that coupled with penalty incidents and offsides? Should off the ball incidents be looked at on the day rather than being dealt with through retrospective action we’ve seen taken?
Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli might not have escaped punishment if TV was used to the full. Further, if it was all incidents inside the area under scrutinty then Manchester United’s Ashley Young may want to think long and hard about going to ground in the manner he has in the Red Devils’ last two outings. QPR’s Shaun Derry would have rightly expected his red card to be rescinded under such an approach.
English football takes pride in the pace and tempo of its style and that technology could detract from that remains the sole downside to it when looking at the overall picture. Arguments that it would take power away from the officials seem specious when considering its purpose is to be an aid to them.
What needs weighing up here is will an obsession with getting complete, absolute accuracy in regards to decision-making take some of the excitement away? Technology has the potential to remove all grey areas, but in making the game black and white might that devalue football as an overall spectacle? What will fans complain about if controversy is eradicated?
The answer to this problem which remains on the horizon until technology is implemented is to lay down clear, unambiguous guidelines right from the start about if TV replays are to be used and what for. It would be better initially in my view if reliance on this wasn’t pervasive for all incidents and the facility to retrospectively punish players remained open to governing bodies.
It remains to be seen whether or not the powers that be approve of goal-line technology, which type they opt for and if they have the vision or not to stop the creation of future controversies over its use. Going on the past track record of football’s top brass and their lethargy over looking into the issue as a whole, it’s very hard to have optimism about their abilities of foresight. That aside, we need to give match officials all the help they can get!