Although swarms of fans have been calling for goal-line technology (GLT) since the ascent of television’s influence on football, debates raised by incidents such as yesterday’s wasitover increase the hotheaded pressure on football’s authorities. Those fully in favour of introducing GLT often point to the many examples of injustices in previous matches: the Lampard incident, Pedro Mendes’ ‘goal’ at Old Trafford in 2005 and, of course, the most famous of them all, Sir Geoff Hurst’s in the 1966 World Cup final. To many the argument for the introduction of GLT is pretty straightforward.
And sure, I think we think we should be doing everything to help referees – who are so often unfairly lambasted for their supposed ineptitude, when really, it’s not their fault they don’t have the same benefit of several viewings of the incident that the armchair fan does – but is GLT really the right tree to be barking up?
Those who’ve bemoaned the lack of it in the modern game might be quick to suggest it answers their prayers, but a counter-argument has steadily begun to emerge. The fact is, implementing technology to eradicate goal-line disputes places this specific injustice above all others in the game. When the age-old question of ‘was it really in?’ is ultimately put to bed, what’s the next question to be answered? ‘Was that actually offside?’ maybe? Or perhaps even ‘was he inside the box when fouled?’, ‘did he dive?’, ‘was it handball?’ the list, unfortunately, goes on.
Many have suggested that instead of GLT, general all-round video technology should be pursued as the answer to football’s great head-scratchers. A fifth official sat deep inside the stadium, and away from interference, using video evidence to dictate all disputable decisions made. When a definitive call can be made on a decision (think how quickly you can tell if the referee is right or wrong when watching at home) the reversal of said decision is relayed to the game and the appropriate time taken is added to the end of the half.
Plus, if you have video technology, you’re killing two birds with one stone – and eradicating the need for GLT in the first place. It seems TV, the great giver of football’s riches, is now also being championed as the shining beacon of hope for parity and fairness.
- “A huge injustice for a revived England.” -
- Officials missed the ‘dive’ by Ashley Young and awarded Manchester United a penalty, sending QPR’s Shaun Derry off. Is that more damming to a team than a goal not given? -
But still there are some left unconvinced. An all-too-often-used smoke screen for the implementation of video technology is that it’s moving football away from its traditional roots.
But in any case, not everyone will be satisfied. Questions will remain over where the line is drawn – if a World Cup final has video technology, why should the average Joe’s Sunday league team have to go without? If a non-league team can’t afford to have cameras at their grounds, what happens when a Premier League side arrives for an FA Cup match? That, is a sticking point.
But for the sake of the game (clichéd, I know) some form of help is desperately required to lift the dark clouds that hang over the sport. Nowadays, football is so often subjected to dramatics that have almost nothing to do with the technical or tactical elements of the matches themselves and passionate purest observers of football are getting annoyed.
“It can’t go on like this. We can’t carry on with important decisions not being correct. Video technology must come in.”
- Spurs manager Harry Redknapp after yesterday’s 1-5 defeat to Chelsea -
The fact of the matter is, football is not sacrosanct, it’s just a sport. Tinkering with the rules of the game might bring initial agitation and might take time to perfect, but eventually it will pay off. The more worrying aspect for me is the ongoing and increasingly harsh animosity being shown to officials. Watch the players, fans and staff of any football team angrily confront the referee and tell me you’d want to be in his position. At what point does the steady stream of prospective referees slow to the point whereby we no longer have any? Can we really expect the standard of officiating to go up, when we continually belittle the ‘bastard in the black?’
For now though, we have few answers and many questions. But debate often brings change and that can only be a good thing. Opinion on what exactly needs changing will rage on and on but while it does, respect to the men in the middle is a paramount importance. It might seem his decisions are “personal” but they’re not. Officials, believe it or not, want to get every decision right. They’re not targeting certain teams, they haven’t got an agenda and the sooner we certain people realise that, the better.