Following a meeting by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Zurich, Goal-line technology has been given the go ahead with FIFA intending upon using the technology in the Club World Cup this coming December and the 2014 Brazil World Cup. The decision brings with it a long end to the battle of introducing technology at the highest level of the worlds most popular sport. In recent year the debate has become more and more exposed with games of high importance involving controversial incidents concerning the awarding of goals. Most recently, FIFA president Sepp Blatter had voiced his support for the introduction of Goal-line technology following the controversial Euro 2012 Group D game between England and Ukraine in which Ukrainian Marko Devic’s shot was adhered to have not crossed the line despite television replays showing otherwise. Blatter, originally in firm opposition to introducing Goal-line technology tweeted after that game “I am confident they [the IFAB] will realise that the time has come”. True this may be but for many its a decision that has been long overdue.
The debate over Goal-line technology has been around ever since England’s finest sporting moment. In the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany Geoff Hurst’s shot for the third goal was awarded to have crossed the line with replays at the time proving inconclusive. As a results England’s finest hour has always been stained with a element of controversy. In recent year tests have suggested that the whole ball may not have crossed the line, meaning that England was the winner out of what was ultimately a human error. The introduction of Goal-line technology is to nullify such incidents occurring, taking human error out of the equation and ensuring that the correct decision is made. With the progression of the game into the modern era being such a financial force with results proving to be worth more than ever, changes to the game are more necessary than ever before. Still leading figures have till now done their up most to stand in its way.
Uefa President Michael Platini is a staunch opponent of Goal-line technology, preferring to stick with the newly introduced system of five match officials. The use of five match officials has come in for much criticism with the game with many people arguing that the extra officials have little if no involvement upon decision making. For instance, the incident in question during the Ukraine v England game saw the extra official on the Goal-line take no action in making a decision towards the awarding of the goal, leading people to question their role even further. Despite this negative response, Platini argued that the use of five match officials at Euro 2012 led to there being more goals scored.
“With extra officials you’re aware of more things: the fear of getting caught is there. There’s no more shirt-pulling, players know that the referee is there and they can’t commit fouls all the time,” said Platini.
“With five, officials see everything. They don’t take decisions without being fully aware. There’s also a uniformity of refereeing, for example, they don’t call unintentional handballs. That uniformity has led to more flowing football.” he added.
Platini said that with five officials, an incident like Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal during England’s match with Germany in the World Cup last 16 would never have happened. This is difficult to determine as the evidence which Platini has provided in supporting his claims if anything counters this argument as the very same officials failed to make the correct decision, which is essentially the biggest drawback upon having these officials in place, human error. As Uefa’s Chief Refereeing Officer Pierluigi Collina commented in the aftermath of the England game with the Ukraine:
“We made a mistake. I wish we hadn’t made the mistake but we did. Referees are human beings and human beings make mistakes.” said Collina.
Even right up to the decision which has been passed today lies the biggest debate about the introduction of Goal-line technology, the removal of human error. Whilst many will comment that it is a part of the game, human error occurs in other areas of play and is a talking point throughout the week in the aftermath of a game, the bottom line remains that the correct decision must be made. If Goal-line technology can provide this service then it needs implementing. Now it seems that the IFAB has come to the same conclusion with voting for its introduction. That said, the ruling is not as straightforward as it may seem.
Prior to the meeting, Uefa President Michael Platini commented that he expected the IFAB to give one of the two Goal-line technology currently being tested the go ahead. If this is the case then essentially individual associations can decide upon what technology, if any to implement. As a result Uefa could still choose not to use the system.
This is a barrier which the footballing world will undoubtedly face in the coming weeks and months, yet today’s decision has certainly gone a long way towards bringing about the change the majority of football fans seek.