Referees, like everyone else, make mistakes. So what better way to ensure football is played with no doubts over whether the ball has crossed the goal line, than to introduce goal-line technology to the game?
That was the plan until recently. However, the sport’s governing body, FIFA, have announced through their law making body, the IFAB (International Football Association Board) that they will not be following up the idea anytime in the near future. The decision has caused anger amongst managers and national football associations alike in a sport where controversy and wrong decisions are rife. While other sports are introducing new technology all the time, football continues to lose ground, with FIFA’s insistence that allows humans to continue ruling on disputed decisions.
Birmingham City manager Alec MacLeish, fresh from witnessing his side go out of the FA Cup to a 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth, while having a legitimate goal not given, was especially loud in condemning FIFA.
“They bring it in at the top level in other sports and I don’t see why it can’t be used in football, especially with what’s at stake. There was a semi-final at stake in the FA Cup, one of the most coveted tournaments in the world, and it denied us a lifeline to possibly still be in the cup.”
It was not the first decision that may have denied a team the chance to change a game. In the 2004-05 season the match between Manchester United and Tottenham looked to be finishing goalless when Roy Carroll spilt Pedro Mendes’ long range shot in the 88th minute and dropped the ball over the line. The United keeper however, hooked the ball out of the net and the officials failed to see the ball had crossed the line, denying Spurs the three points.
Members of Football’s governing body have been branded “luddites” on their refusal to use technology, whereas other major sports have prospered with the introduction of new systems. For example, Cricket and the introduction of the “Hawkeye” system has still left the majority of decisions in the hands of the umpire, but he has the option to call upon the 3rd umpire to use video replays and simulations to make the correct decision.
Also, in Tennis, players now have the option to contest decisions made by touch judges, with simulations being used to decide whether the ball was out. With other sports taking technology in their stride, it’s a wonder how FIFA think football is going to progress when incorrect decisions are made week in, week out. Football is not just a game anymore; it’s a multi million pound industry, being screened all around the globe, and without new innovations, both professionals and fans are going to become more and more discontent with way things are going.