|Ian Ritchie believes technology has been
a big hit in tennis [GALLO/GETTY]
Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie believes Fifa was wrong to reject goal-line technology.
The top official in charge of the grass-court Grand Slam said that football missed a great opportunity to embrace technology that had proved a huge success in tennis, even at the All England Club where members usually frown on any kind of change.
While tennis uses a system called Hawk-Eye to decide close line calls, football was invited to use cameras or even a microchip in the ball to decide whether the ball had crossed the line.
The game had looked at experiments but Fifa decided last month to stop them and rely on the officials on the field.
At a Soccerex 2008 Forum at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, Ritchie said he was surprised football had rejected it.
“We have introduced Hawk-Eye last year. Usually if we change anything at Wimbledon there’s a torrent of letters from people saying ‘You’ve done something different, we haven’t had that in 70 years, why did you do that?’ Yet we didn’t get one single complaint about Hawk-Eye,” he said.
“Everybody thought it was fantastic. The audience thought it was fantastic on TV, the crowds in the stadium loved it and the players liked it as well.”
Ritchie said it was a shame that the world’s most popular sport had a different opinion.
“Our view was that, if the technology is available to help the referee or the umpire of the linesmen then I think you should do that,” he said.
Premier League support
Football had looked at the Hawk-Eye technology at Reading’s Madejski Stadium and its owner said Premier League clubs and referees had unanimously supported its introduction.
“The use of technology showed that 70 percent of the time it proved that the linesman was right, the call was right and it actually demonstrated to most people how difficult the job is for officials and that the margin of in or out is very small.
“I think in many ways it was positive. That’s why I think it was a great shame that there was an opportunity missed on something that is so important (to soccer),” he said.
“If the technology exists and it definitely works, then why not use it?
“I thought it was surprising that it was ruled out so quickly without even a pilot or a test.”