It is the pleasure of gibfootballshow to welcome David Bevan, otherwise known as The 72 football. David asks the question. Do we really want Goal-Line technology?

I love football. I love it for its beauty, but also for its imperfections. Apparently, though, I don’t. This weekend, there was another contentious decision in the Premier League and we have had to suffer overexposed loudmouths in the media putting words in the mouths of millions of football supporters. More waffle and bluster about how “everyone” wants goal-line technology except a few “neanderthals” at FIFA. Tentatively, I raise my hand. And me…

It isn’t the end of the world if someone makes a mistake. You would think Alan Shearer, whose Match of the Day appearance on Saturday night contained the proclamation that “everyone” wants goal-line technology, could understand that. One look in his wardrobe should confirm that notion. You would think tabloid journalists, spouting off about the issue on the Sunday Supplement again this weekend, could understand that.

Consider the role of the sub-editor, whose second pair of eyes aims to reduce mistakes and sharpen the finished product. Reduce, but not eliminate; sharpen, but not perfect – the sub-editor is not the goal-line technology in this analogy. The sub-editor is the official and the journalist is the player, because the sub-editor sometimes misses the odd typo too. Thus we are presented with a newspaper that contains the occasional imperfection – again, not the end of the world.

We are told decisions have to be right because of the money in the game. We are told that the authorities want the game to remain the same from the parks to the Premier League, but that this is already a myth due to the absence of fourth officials and suspensions for swearing into a television camera from grassroots football.

However, neither of these examples suggest that top-level football is more important than the non-league game. Non-league football can do without fourth officials, television cameras and accompanying suspensions for swearing at such a device. What it cannot do, clearly, is match the cost needed to implement goal-line technology at ramshackle grounds up and down the country. So is top flight football more important than non-league football? If so, it is only because there are more people interested in the game at the highest level. More people to hold opinions, more people to abuse officials.

The existence of fourth officials, for example, can be traced to the misbehaviour of coaching staff at the top level – often questioning decisions that goal-line technology is supposed to solve. Does that not suggest a further culture change is needed, rather than increased technology where modified human behaviour would improve a situation?

Perhaps some of us enjoy that fury, indignation and righteousness. Perhaps some of us can also control those emotions to the point where they are no harm to anyone else and restrict them to the moment. League titles, promotions, relegations – none of these events are decided by a single moment. They are decided by a long series of games and a club has numerous opportunities to improve their standing to the extent that a solitary official’s decision does not mean the difference between joy and pain; success and failure; princes and paupers.

Sunday afternoon’s meeting between Arsenal and Manchester United brought more controversy, which only served to re-inforce my stance on goal-line technology. It seemed impossible for the officials to miss Nemanja Vidic’s handball and Gael Clichy’s foul on Michael Owen, but they did and the fact that both sides were denied clear penalties rules out any suggestion of bias. Bring in goal-line technology by all means. Frustration with other types of decision will still remain. After all, the question of whether a ball crosses the line or not only arises very sporadically.

The media can go further than merely acknowledging the existence of opposing points of view in the debate over goal-line technology. Broadcasters and journalists could also take some responsibility and reduce the hyperbole churned out every time a wrong decision is made. We already love the game for its drama and unpredictability. We coped before technology was an option and, in my opinion, we can continue to cope without it.

Despite the intense focus on top flight football, mistakes continue and this should be a clue that they will always be a part of the game. The offside law, for one, is physically impossible to enforce with any degree of certainty. When it takes the pausing of a replay from a particular angle (and often some precisely angled lawnmowing) to judge a decision effectively, that should tell you something. A co-commentator shrieking hysterically about marginally erroneous officiating does not help the game in any way.

There are other factors in the goal-line technology debate that have been quoted by various supporters of change over the weekend in response to Frank Lampard’s controversial goal against Tottenham Hotspur. They defend the unavoidable spectre of lengthy stoppages in play, but no-one can truly claim to know the effect this would have on the game, positive or negative, until it happens. They also point to the supposedly successful implementation of technology in other sports such as cricket and tennis.

If we really must compare the incomparable, the “challenge” scenario in cricket does not appear to be something that would translate well to the football pitch. It certainly doesn’t solve any problem outright in the sense that a team can use up their allocated challenges and any subsequent mistakes will remain unaltered. It might add a modicum of drama, but we don’t need any more of that.

So no, Alan Shearer, not “everyone” is in favour of goal-line technology. And no, Graeme Souness, not “everyone” involved in the game wants it to happen. If the fans still get a say, then at least one will stand alongside those at FIFA and continue to oppose goal-line technology. But then I’m just a neanderthal…

 


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19 comments

May 1st, 2011

I’ve long felt there’s no harm in goal-line technology. A simple application that instantly gives the referee a definitive yes or no to clear up the rare instances where there is some debate.

When it comes to technology beyond that though, I’m not a fan. I don’t want someone sitting at a screen deciding what is going to happen when sometimes these decisions are still no clearer. Unlike rugby, tennis, cricket etc football is a naturally flowing game with rare prolonged stoppages. I don’t want that tampered with.

Then there’s the human error argument, it’s what makes the game exciting and gives people something to talk about afterwards. Penalties, fouls and offsides are subject to opinion, you often hear two ‘pundit referees’ giving contrasting thoughts on the same incident.

I do think purely goal-line technology though would greatly alter the game we have nor would bring much debate based on the decisions given. It’s one of the few areas where I think we can add technology for the better of the game – especially when you consider how infrequent instances of debate involving the ball crossing the goal-line occur.

May 1st, 2011

Excellent post, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Particularly I agree with how it’s irritating when the pundit decides that because their opinion is that of a specific point, it therefore becomes “everyone’s”opinion too.

As for the technology itself, I’d implement goal-line technology, however that’s as far as I would go. It’d kill some part of my love for Football if we had to put up with constant stoppages to the game we love. The fact that in comparison to a fair few major sports, Football is a very flowing game, with little time for stoppages and more time for action. That’s the way I’d like it to stay.

Jim

May 1st, 2011

Add me to the list of those not wanting technology in football. Not goal-line, not video replays, not anything. Redknapp, Shearer and the rest of the pundits should stop whinging, take the rough with the smooth and stop whinging. It’s a game. It’s not – pace the Skymedia hysteria – that important. Put the debate to bed and move on.

May 2nd, 2011

For me, the moment a player plays a perfect game, or a pundit summarises in such a way that EVERYONE agrees with their analysis, that is the moment I will stand fully behind technology at a match.

Note to Mr Shearer, notice of your intention to stand-down from all media duties with immediate affect is far more likely to have EVERYONE wanting it.

David

May 2nd, 2011

Brilliant comment BTFM.

And everyone else, in fact. Cheers.

Paddy

May 2nd, 2011

Honestly. What twaddle. Has video evidence ruined tennis, cricket and rugby? to argue that football is different because it’s ‘free flowing’ is nonsense. Add up the minutes wasted by players chasing and berating the ref after every contentious decision. You’d stop that instantly. Respect would have to enter the game as decisions would be based on unarguable facts that everyone could see. (When traffic cameras are used to provide evidence on the roads nobody contests the verdict.)
Video evidence should not just be used within the game but retrospectively to punish divers, elbowers and other cheats who are taking advantage of the rotten jurisdiction that ruins football.

Nannig

May 3rd, 2011

Weren’t Neanderthal, though extinct, more advanced than Sapiens Sapiens at the time anyway?

May 3rd, 2011

In my opinion Paddy, video evidence has made those sports worse.

“You’d stop that instantly” – no you wouldn’t.

Where do you draw the line with what you would address through video evidence?

And it’s clear that even video evidence doesn’t always give a definitive verdict. Newspapers recently published computer-generated pictures of the infamous 1966 World Cup final Azeri linesman question and even they couldn’t agree!

How many times do you watch an incident replayed several times on television and your opinion still differs to what the commentators are saying about it? Happens to me, and countless others, all the time…

PhilP

May 3rd, 2011

Spot on!

I’m deeply against introducing TV replays into the game. I can remember games from my past solely because of terrible refereeing decisions. An outrageous sending off can liven up a dull game no end.

The thought of a red card being shown by the ref and then everyone standing around for 5 minutes whilst the decision is reviewed before being upheld will 1. Ruin the atmosphere and 2. Deprive the crowd of their sense of righteous anger.

As for the “appeal” system this would ruin football once and for all. How many reviews would a team get in a game – 2, 3? And how many goals are they likely to concede? Probably 1 or 2. As a result it would be in every clubs interest to appeal EVERY goal that is conceded. There may have been an unseen push, or offside. It would definitely be worth taking the chance. Consequently that moment of euphoria when the ball hits the net would be forever gone, instead replaced by everyone turning to stare at the giant screen waiting for someone in the stands to review the evidence and try and find a fault in the goal. That’s the game destroyed right there.

(As a further confusion, try answering the question as to how far back the review could go before deciding the goal could not stand).

Jack

May 3rd, 2011

Brilliant article, nice to see I’m not alone in this.

I think putting a chip in the ball, so the ref knows instantly if it’s crossed the line would be fine. It wouldn’t stop the game and it’s something that is one way or the other.

But many things are not definitive and are open to interpretation. I think you could spend 5 minutes trying to decide whether or not a player has handled and intended to handle the ball. And even then there wouldn’t be universal agreement.

Also, the likes of Redknapp and Shearer are asking for *video* technology rather than *goal-line* technology, which suggests as long as referees still make mistakes (and they will, they’re only human) they’ll be calls for further technology.

May 3rd, 2011

Think of Hawk-Eye in tennis. Only professionals use them. Would tennis exist if it couldn’t be used? Yes. Has tennis improved since its use? Yes. Now, take this reasoning to football.

Football should learn from hockey, for instance. Not all calls are reviewed, but the important ones such as goals that didn’t cross the line or that were kicked in with the skate. But football can’t do the same (unless it’s Howard Webb officiating and looks at the screen).

If you want frustration to remain in football, no problem, it will. There are calls such as penalties who you can’t say if it was or wasn’t after 100 reviews, there are fouls, there handballs, there are thousands of things that wouldn’t be reviewed because the game would last 3 hours.

Finally, I’d like to add you put a poor article overall, with very poor reasons and like if someone asked you to write this specifically even if you didn’t agree with it.

I have nothing to do with England, not I supported them in the World Cup, but when I saw sitting on my sofa that Lampard’s goal went in, I got mad. Maybe England would have not advanced, but at the very least, VERY bad refereeing, because mistakes can be understood but not such flagrant ones, stole fans a football game. And yes, games are about fans, we should never forget that.

Decks Luthor

May 3rd, 2011

The major issue isn’t just the occasional mistake happening. Its the impact that wrong decisions have. The stakes at the top are massive.

That’s why you cant compare non-league to top flight. A place in the champions league is worth at least 20million a season and up to 60million if you win it.

And if a team is relegated from the top flight then your talking similar figures lost in revenue. To smaller clubs that could mean administration.

When your dealing with such vast amounts of money you at least need correct decisions on whether a ball has crossed the line or not.

May 3rd, 2011

One thing I do agree with is the use of the word ‘everyone’. It’s shameful the way pundits and journalists throw the word around. Don’t fucking speak for me!

Carl

May 3rd, 2011

I’m definitely pro-goalline technology if it is instant. I don’t think non-league football would be particularly diminished by its absence.

But on the general use of video technology for other decisions, absolutely not. Trips in the box, offsides etc are in many cases impossible to divine correctly. The touchdown of a ball in rugby is one thing, the definition of foul contact is another entirely. How many of the commentators who currently howl for technology will be howling at the injustice of breakaways halted by the referee to pause and wait for a decision to be made in the stands. If a challenge system is implemented this gives captains the opportunity to halt counter-attacks with spurious challenges.

And what about players who are onside but whistled off and have to stop their run? Would technology only apply to offside decisions where a player was mistakenly called on? How is that fair?

The call for video technology is knee jerk nonsense that most people haven’t really thought through the consequences of. Farce already exists in the game, adding an extra element would increase the possibility of farce and injustice, and make football a lot less fun in the process.

KWolf

May 3rd, 2011

“(When traffic cameras are used to provide evidence on the roads nobody contests the verdict.)”

Pretty sure Mr Loophole has made a career out of doing exactly that.

taylor

May 3rd, 2011

i will have to respectfully, but wholeheartedly disagree with you here. you do make some good points, and you are right about the need for us to take the good with the bad. yes, referees will make mistakes, like any person, and we need to live with it. but the fact of them matter is they are making too many mistakes, and they are changing results, and for a sport with so much time and money invested into it, that just can’t happen as often as it is. we are not calling for video replay for every foul call, or every offside call, etc. we are simply calling for it on potentially game-changing scenarios, like goals, or red cards, etc. that are frankly very rare. everything else will remain the same, with the referee’s decision being perfectly sufficient for the scenario. these incidents are rare and don’t even take place every game. is a 10 second delay per game going to effect anything? not nearly as much as the delays caused by players heckling the referee about a red card or a disallowed goal, not to mention players feigning injuries and rolling around on the ground for a minute and a half (these could be rid of as well because a player could be carded for this as a replay would prove whether there was contact or not 9 times out of 10).

it makes it even worse that thousands, and sometimes millions of viewers(in the case of a World Cup, etc.) can see what the correct call was almost immediately. the referee is already connected by microphone to a fourth official who can see the correct call seconds after it happens, but must remain quiet. does that make any sense at all? he knows that a referee messed up the call, but can’t say anything? that is a total joke.

i agree with you on some of your points, but frankly, they are unfounded. no one is advocating for every decision to be made by video replay. 99% of decisions would still be left up to the referee, and video would only be necessary in extreme scenarios

huggles

May 3rd, 2011

Your argument is that having random mistakes in football is great because it adds drama, and then close with saying that football doesn’t need extra drama from technology. Right. Don’t be snarky if you’re basically just saying “I like football how it is because that’s how i know it”

May 3rd, 2011

How many goal line decisions do you think have had to be made this year? Does the frequency of such events really justify the installation of the technology?

Obviously with Tennis you can have several calls per game, rugby too. But football not really.

Although I’d would be more then happy to have goal line technology I would gladly not have it too. I really don’t think much is broken in terms of these decisions and we should probably leave it the way it is. Five in Midfield website this week made a good point about we need the injustice in football, as a tool to galvanise fans (and we secretly love it).

Technology in general, I think before we even think about implementing it a whole load of debating and consultation needs to be done. When do we stop the game, what decisions do we use it for. What do we do if say there is a handball appeal, the ball stays in play and the opposition go up and score, after a couple minutes of play until the ball goes out again. Or it’s called back straight away and it is found not to be a handball? something Gareth at TLS looked into before all the games at the weekend sparked the debate again.

But as someone said to be on twitter, its not football that is broke. Off the pitch is broke lets not try fixing the football.

More respect and support needs to be given to referees. We need to understand that it is a one or two men with a split decision to make from there vantage point. Alot of unneed pressure is put on them by gang of 22 players shouting at them. If the FA help instill some respect, zero tolerance on referees abuse and an acceptance that referees will get things wrong (there only human) I think football will get on just fine as it has for over 100 years.

April 16th, 2012

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