Thursday, July 05, 2012

Technology won't make football any happier

They're talking about goal-line technology again. A meeting taking place today could vote to give it a try. I don't know anything about officiating but it seems to me;

This is a game into which cheating, deception, rule-bending, intimidation, finagling and arguing black's white is hard-wired. It's coached. This is Jarndyce and Jarndyce in shorts. Nobody is interested in what's right. They're interested in what goes for them or against them. There is nothing that top managers won't do to get an inch of advantage.

In the light of this the argument advanced by the proponents of goal-line technology, that its introduction will "settle the disputes", is naive.

Furthermore, arguments on football pitches expand to fill the time available for them. If there is a stoppage during which the referee has to consult, either a person or a piece of technology, said stoppage will be used as an opportunity for further argument. If there isn't a stoppage, somebody will be arguing there should have been one.

There's only one way to run a football match and that's with one official who's the final arbiter of everything that's gone on and what should be done about it. If you open it up beyond that you're getting into questions of what happened in real life. That way madness lies.


  1. To be fai, the FIFA requirements for any goal line technology are that there isn't any stoppage. To be authorised, a system has to send a wireless signal to the referee within one second (via a vibrating watch.) There's no question of stopping the game to watch a video replay.

  2. Spot on - I can't see it helping much.

    It’s also a colossal waste of money. I go to 20-25 games a season and see maybe one or two instances of “was that over the line or not?” Is it worth spending millions to correct such occasional miscarriages of justice?

    The other issue that bothers me is the - admittedly idealistic - one about the spirit of the game. Years ago I interviewed a senior refereeing official from the FA, who made the point that what makes football special compared to most other sports is the uniformity of the playing conditions. Whether you’re playing in the FA Cup Final at Wembley or on a patch of dirt in an African village, the basic conditions - the dimensions and layout of the pitch, the size of the ball and so on - are the same.

    FIFA and UEFA have already started eating into this with the introduction of extra goal-line officials in big games (and that worked well at Euro 2012, didn’t it?). Introducing a technology that will only be available at certain levels of the game makes a much bigger hole in the concept of one sport for all.

  3. I disagree. As someone once said, football teams spend millions on players to score goals, or keep them out - if you score / prevent a goal that is given/not given that is proven, rapidly and easily, to have been a mistake, it should be rectified.

    It would be as simple as a direct link to a device on the referee that vibrates if the ball crosses the line, or an official with extra cameras who can watch and confirm and contact the referee - if a goal is scored, a goal has been scored and that's that.

    Rugby uses video technology brilliantly (if slowly) - tries are given or not given correctly, everything else is left to the referee, and no-one has called for any changes to that yet.

    As for the @TimT's point - again, in rugby it's accepted that perhaps at a lower level you won't have it all the time, or on all the tennis courts, but for the big games, the finals, the tournaments, where nations hopes are on the line, a correct decision is vital - see Ukraine 2012, England 2010, Tottenham FA Cup semi 2012...

    Debates will still exist, people may not be any happier, but it'll be a fairer game.

  4. I hope, TimT, that "a senior refereeing official from the FA" DIDN'T say that "whether you’re playing in the FA Cup Final at Wembley or on a patch of dirt in an African village, the basic conditions - the dimensions and layout of the pitch," remain the same.

    They don't - unlike most other sports, there are minimum and maximum sizes laid down, but the dimensions of the pitch vary enormously from one ground to another.

    Familiarity with the size of your own pitch is just one aspect of home advantage.

  5. I think this is a bit bah humbug. The Hawkeye system brings a whole heap of benefits to cricket and tennis and could take televised football up a notch - we'd all love to see speed of ball, would that shot have gone in had the 'keeper not got a hand to it etc.

  6. Look at F1 and its great big rule book.

    It doesn't matter what officiating technology they put in place. The top teams and drivers will always push into the grey areas and argue about interpretations. Despite the cameras and the reams of data that a car generates when its hurtling around the track, some cheat and often get away with it too.

    A tendency to vociferously argue the toss is perhaps one of the things that makes a great team.

    Technology may make sport marginally fairer but it won't end debate.

  7. Just one thing, Carlos. The fact that an argument can be described as "bah humbug" doesn't make it wrong.

  8. Premiere Football League football and international football is professionell and commercial football and therefore much more than a folklore. Much money and much national emotion is included. That´s why technological control elements are making sense.