Is goal-line technology right for football?

Goal-line technology has been passed but Andrew Binner has reservations over whether that means it should be used.

    Is goal-line technology right for football?
    Is the human element of football under threat from goal-line technology? [AFP]

    As the new Premiership season approaches there has been much debate over whether we need goal-line technology or not.

    With Frank Lampard’s infamous disallowed goal at the 2010 World Cup amongst many more examples of inaccuracy around the goal-line you may quite justly pose the question: why is there any hesitation over the introduction of extra technological assistance?

    Video technology in sports like cricket, tennis and American Football has been fully integrated for some time and is generally considered to have enhanced the sporting spectacle on offer – both in excitement and in accuracy.

    So why on earth has football, far superior to the aforementioned sports in terms of global popularity and consequently economic muscle, been left so far behind in this area?

    There are three main reasons we should be cautious over GLT.

    Football is known as 'the beautiful game' and wishes to remain so. Football, unlike cricket and tennis, is mostly a free- flowing game without the natural breaks in play of the other sports. This natural break inbetween points or deliveries in tennis and cricket means the sport lends itself to the use of video referral.

    However if 50 second (approx.) breaks were taken in football to decipher if a ball had gone over the line or not, whilst we may now have the correct decision we are in danger of sanatising the pace and excitement of the game around which the Premier League has built its reputation.

    It is also worth bearing in mind that if the use of goal line technology is successfully adopted, it is likely to lead to further use of video replays such as offside calls and penalty diving incidents that would further slow the game.

    The second reason we must be cautious in our approach to the use of technology is that we will be losing the human element of the game. When the final whistle of a match goes, for many it symbolises the end of the weekend and the impending thought of work on Monday ensues.

    The one thing that carries many of us through the Monday blues is the two-hour discussion in the pub after the game or in the office about the controversial points of the game. With a sport that is governed by machines and not humans, we may be in danger of making the sport less spontaneous and more predictable.

    Do we need it?

    The final reason is that there is a strong argument that match officials are already doing an adequate job. In March, Head of Match Officials Mike Riley claimed that 92.3% of all major decisions were made correctly by referees whilst 99.3% of officials called the offside rule correctly.

    Sports statistician Tim Long told me: “There were only three goal-line incidents last season where technology could have been of help.”

    Therefore, he believed that goal-line decisions alone were not enough to justify the use of technology.

    "We should be cautious of the extent of which we use it, as it is the human element of football that keeps us coming back each weekend"

    However, in the football age of today, as with most other sports, money is the key driving factor and most influential component of professional participation.

    With ticket prices rocketing to see your favourite stars and with millions of dollars worth of revenue in TV and sponsorship deals hinged on promotion to the biggest leagues, spectators need to see the best action on the pitch possible. This includes all the correct decisions at key moments so that your club can’t be robbed of a place at the top table of sport.

    Last month, FIFA approved the testing of two companies in order to provide the technology that will come into use for the start of the 2013/14 season. Hawkeye from England is already in use at Wimbledon and in most international cricket venues and employ cameras around the goalmouth. Goal Ref from Denmark uses a microchip in the ball and is the second system deemed accurate enough for use.

    With such large sums of money at stake in the modern game FIFA president Sepp Blatter was right to finally approve the use of goal-line technology.

    However, we should be cautious of the extent of which we use it, as it is the human element of football that keeps us coming back each weekend.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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