Published On: Tue, Apr 8th, 2014 on 11:53 am

Footballing luddites refuse to move with the times

Goal Decision System

The Goal Decision System

We live in a world where technology has made life easier for all. No longer do we have to pull out folded maps and trace our way to the destination (only to realise we’re lost because we’ve been reading it upside down!), we have GPS systems, and what’s more amazing, their built into our phones!

We live in the age of the internet, where information to any question ever asked is available within seconds. No longer do we have to be sat round the telly at a certain time on a certain day to watch our favourite programme. No we can record it, or even if we forget to do that, it’ll be available on various iPlayers.

Why is it that despite all this technology, now engrained in every aspect of our life, football fails to move with the times? In an era where the Premier League is beamed across 212 territories and watched by 4.7 BILLION people, the traditionalists still rule the roost and refuse to acknowledge the existence of technological advances that would help the game.

There have been many recent examples of how technology would have dealt with errors made by the referee almost instantaneously. Andy Carroll’s foul on Simon Mignolet at the weekend saw the referee, incorrectly overruling his linesman, despite the presence of two Jumbo screens at either end of the ground which could have shown him a replay within seconds. Further issues have hit the headlines recently as referee Andre Mariner sent off Keiran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in Chelsea’s 6:0 win over London rivals Arsenal.

In 2005, Urs Linsi, general secretary of FIFA, said “Players, coaches and referees all make mistakes. It’s part of the game.”

Why is it we as footballing fans are often robbed of the correct decision? Cricket, rugby and numerous other sports have adapted technology to help officiate sports better. The argument often trotted out is often based around what supporters would talk about if all refereeing decisions were 100% correct is an easy one to answer. Supporters would talk about fantastic goals, about the brilliance of individuals, and impossible saves NOT whether the referee requires his eyesight testing!

For every seminal moment etched into folklore that has been embedded into the national psyche based on a referee’s mistake in our favour, such as Geoff Hurst second goal in the 1966 World Cup final, or Spain’s two disallowed goals in the 1996 Quarter Final there occurs injustices such as Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in 2010.

In a dynamic, fast-flowing game like football it has been argued that the introduction of technology will slow the game down. The introduction of the Goal Decision System has shown this is not the case and has aided Premier League referee’s enormously. It is not beyond the realms of possibility to develop technology which inform the referee as to whether players are offside! Television replays can be also be introduced to help referee’s double check decisions such as penalties.

Many will remember Zinedine Zindanes’ famous headbutt in the World Cup Final of 2006. The red card was given on the say of the fourth official, as the referee had his back to the incident. The French manager at the time, Raymond Domenech, insisted the fourth official advised the referee to give the red card based on a replay he saw on a television monitor near the dugout. As the correct decision was reached, what is wrong with this process being replicated across top professional football if it doesn’t introduce unnecessary stoppages?

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has stated he wishes the game to be the same, whether you are kicking about on the park, or playing on the world stage. Mr Blatter must realise that the two games are poles apart, and technology already makes the two games very different. At grass roots you are lucky if you can get a referee to officiate and linesman are extremely rare commodities. There is no Goal Decision System to adjudicate any ball that has crossed the line, and more importantly, millions of pounds are not at stake! There already exists a vast chasm between the two games and Mr Blatter’s argument is not one that holds merit.

There is a need to remove the luddites from the upper echelons of world football, before any such progress can take place. The wait for the introduction of further technology looks like it’s going to be a long one.

About the Author

Akif Waseem

- Management Committee Member of the Spen Valley Football League and the Bradford and District FA

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