Despite the best efforts of the Television Match Official (an Australian) denying England a try in the egg chasers World Cup final against South Africa, plus a few other howlers from the wide world of sport, it is getting increasingly difficult to understand football’s lack of enthusiasm for embracing science and in particular, goal line technology (GLT).
There are, of course, some sound reasons against it. Slowing the game down is one, as is the cost of development. But the arguments for not introducing such a scheme are weak in comparison with the benefits. Using the English Premier League as an example, here are just a few reasons why GLT should be used and why it should become the norm.
1) Players and managers are judged on results. Why should they be judged on results which are incorrect?
2) If an audience at home can see if a goal has or hasn’t been scored, how is it possible that the man in the middle can’t be informed of the fact?
3) TV companies and sponsors pay billions of pounds across the world to cover and be associated with major events. Shouldn’t they, their viewers and customers at least be rewarded with the correct result?
4) One wrong decision during a season leading to relegation stands to lose that club £50 million.
According to Sepp Blatter and Uefa President Michel Platini the answer to all of the above is a resounding ‘we don’t care’.
Despite the fact that they backed the idea over a year ago since when a huge amount of time and money has been spent on coming up with a solution based on the Hawk-Eye system, football’s power brokers gave the plan a thumbs down at a recent International FA Board meeting in Scotland. All of this was to the huge embarrassment to the English FA and Premier League who’ve been in the vanguard promoting the idea.
Instead, Platini has persuaded his colleagues to experiment with two extra linesman or goal line assistants. “There is a philosophical debate, it’s very simple,” Platini told The Sunday Telegraph. “Either you help them with additional pairs of eyes or with technology and I’m against technology. Once you start, who knows where you might stop. The 18-yard line, the offside trap? All I’m saying is let’s try my idea.”
Bearing in mind we are talking about goal line technology, it’s ironic that Platini, in opposition to the Hawk-Eye proposal, has simply moved the goal posts.
Strange, you might think, from a man who was part of one of the biggest miscarriages of justice the game has ever known. Clean through on goal in the 1982 World Cup semi finals, Platini’s team mate Patrick Battiston was one on one with the on rushing West German goal keeper Harold Schumacher. Schumacher launched himself at the Frenchman, his hip making contact with Battiston’s face, and the Frenchman fell to the ground unconscious. As Platini said at the time he thought his team mate was dead as he “had no pulse and looked pale.”
Now imagine that the goal line cameras were viewing the field of play and, during the lengthy delay while Battiston was treated, a TMO informed the referee that Schumacher should be dismissed. There is every chance that France would have gone on to win the game and ultimately the tournament itself. Platini’s view on technology might be very different with a World Cup winner’s medal on his mantelpiece.
Blatter insists that “There has been no change of heart. Referees make decisions, not machines,” he said. “I have defended goal-line technology but it has become clear that such systems are too complicated and very costly. Nor would they necessarily add anything positive to the game and could harm the authority of the referee.
“We have to maintain the laws of the game in their simplicity. Do you want technical devices to take decisions? That’s why, after three years of tests with no conclusions, I am in favour of putting the whole thing on ice.”
Cue an infuriated Hawk-Eye MD Paul Hawkins. “”I am livid,” he said.”This decision is completely out of the blue. A year ago they laid down four specific criteria and now they change their minds. My company has invested an awful lot of money and now we will get no return on our investment.”
More to the point however is that some club’s around the world are getting no return on their endeavour. Perfectly good goals not being given, hugely suspect one’s being awarded.
Football may be at the top of the tree in terms of it’s financial appeal but in technology terms, it continues to live in the dark ages.