By Adam Conway
The ongoing discussions about whether or not goal-line technology will be introduced into football look set to be put to bed. After unsuccessful tests in previous years, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that the technology will be used in future competitions, including the 2014 World Cup.
Personally, I have always sided with the argument that controversy adds a bit of spice to the game; that questionable decisions bring about interesting discussion and bad calls by officials balance themselves out over the course of a season. However, lately I have begun to warm to the idea of goal-line technology, to an extent.
The most common argument against goal-line technology is that to stop the match to review certain situations would disturb the flow of the game. That the introduction of this technology would only be the start of a complete digital age revamp of the game we love. This is an argument I can appreciate, but these days football as a business supersedes football as a spectacle.
An incorrect goal-line decision can cost a club millions. It can be the difference between qualifying for Europe or not, relegation or survival, even whether or not a club continues to exist has teetered on these types of decisions in the past. But, as I said, I welcome the introduction of this technology only to a certain extent.
I do feel that the overuse of modern technology can have a negative impact on the game, but when you take sports like American football for example, we can see it’s effectiveness. I use the NFL as an example for its efficiency. Each coach is permitted 2 challenges per game. If there’s a ruling on the field that they believe to be incorrect, they can challenge it, in which case the officials will review their decision by way of a video replay. The suspense and excitement that builds while awaiting big decisions brings about a different element to the game. It’s important for coaches to decide carefully when to use their challenges. Do they let nothing slide, or risk missing the opportunity to challenge calls later in the game? A similar challenge system could be introduced so that not every decision is reviewed, just those the manager feels necessary, providing he has not reached his limit.
Speaking at the Club World Cup in Tokyo, where goal-line technology is currently being tested, Blatter told reporters: “One of these two systems – we are not going to take both – but one of the two will be used at Confederations Cup and at the 2014 World Cup.”
The two systems Blatter refers to are “GoalRef” and “Hawk-Eye”. “GoalRef” uses an electronic coil inside the ball which sends a vibrating signal to the watch of the referee whenever the ball crosses the goal-line. This is probably the most effective way of implementing the technology, as it’s a split-second communication that wouldn’t require a break in play. The other, “Hawk-Eye”, relies on a number of high-speed cameras to cover a variety of angles, and has been successfully used in cricket and tennis for a number of years. The latter should only be introduced sparingly, perhaps with a challenge system similar to the one I mentioned previously.
The Premier League and English FA have backed the British-designed “Hawk-Eye” system, although UEFA president Michel Platini continues to remain stubbornly opposed to the use of technology of any form within the game.