Ask anyone the question above on the 27th June 2010 and the instantaneous reply would have been: “For the good, get it in now. Why are we sitting around not making a decision – it’s ridiculous!” – anyone outside of Germany that is.
Of course, this was the day that Frank Lampard scored the goal that was never given, against Germany in the Last 16 of the FIFA World Cup. A goal that was at least a foot over the line, the understandable livid response from the England players and media alike caused a lot of pressure to be heaped on FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his peers, even UEFA President Michel Platini, to make the immediate choice to integrate video technology into the modern game.
Yet as you delve deeper into the ins and outs of the decision whether or not to include video technology, a verdict appears to be a lot more difficult to arrive at.
The familiar evidence to ‘back up’ the argument to include video technology usually involves the way in which rugby and cricket have used it for the good of their game. However, with rugby and cricket it is a try or not a try, a wicket or not a wicket, there is no grey area; unlike football.
You see, the problem is, what are the boundaries of video technology? Is it used for dubious offside goals, controversial penalty decisions or the poignant concern – goal line technology?
A prime example of this is the pinnacle of Luis Suarez’s infamous career - the handball on the goal line in the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup against Ghana.
On review, in the shot leading up to the one handballed on the line, there were two offside Ghanaians, one of whose shot was blocked legitimately on the goal line - watch the incident here.
Leaving the question to be: Should Luis Suarez actually have been sent off?
A World Cup not graced with great officiating, South Africa 2010 saw another controversial decision on the same day as the Lampard incident; the obvious offside goal from Carlos Tevez, which opened the scoring in Argentina’s 3-1 beating of Mexico.
Yet, the blunder about this was that the clear offside goal was mistakenly shown on the big screen in the stadium; causing Mexico fans to understandably go crackers.
Another issue with the decision over goal line technology is whether it should be shown on big screens in the stadiums (like rugby and cricket), or will it be enclosed to viewing by a panel.
Either way, fans will become frustrated through not being able to see the incident, or will be angered by the break-up of play while waiting for the decision. Integrating video technology into the modern game is definitely not a click-of-the-fingers job.
It’s certain that Mr Blatter is not the most loved or appreciated figure in football, and his comment three months prior to the 2010 World Cup definitely didn’t earn him any more Christmas cards.
After being pressurised into making a comment on video technology he released the following statement:
“No matter which technology is applied, at the end of the day a decision will have to be taken by a human being. This being the case, why remove the responsibility from the referee to give it to someone else? Fans love to debate any given incident in a game. It is part of the human nature of our sport.”
To someone who is unfamiliar with the game of football, this statement seems fair and well balanced. Yet to somebody who is involved in and follows the game, this statement comes across as farcical and cowardly.
At first, I shared the latter opinion, yet if you take a step back and forget who said it and perceive as a general comment, it all appears true and measured.
The first part of the statement still appears to me as somewhat of a kop out comment, yet the second section, and arguably most controversial, seems to be absolutely true, in England at least.
The Premier League is littered with controversial refereeing decisions, a part of the game that players and managers hate, but fans love to hate. In reality debatable decisions are built into the modern game; when Gary Lineker talks on Match of the Day about a game that ‘had it all’ he mentions goals, free flowing football, hard challenges and controversy.
Debatable refereeing decisions are the scapegoat on a Saturday afternoon for thousands of fans all over the country, they are an excuse, and they are talked about so much by managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, that the decisions warrant an abundance of media coverage.
On Sky Sports News, former referee Dermot Gallagher visits the studio following the weekend matches to discuss the controversial refereeing decision that occurred over the weekend – controversy in football supplies people with a job.
UEFA’s response to goal line technology is the ‘5th official’ – an extra official standing on the by-line with a wand-like stick in hand, which they wave around to alert the referee; the poor man’s chequered flag.
The reception to the fifth official proposition hasn’t exactly been awfully welcoming, and for good reason:
In 2010, the year Fulham unbelievably reached the Europa League final, one fifth official instructed the referee into wrongly sending off Brede Hangeland (when he was not the guilty party), after a foul in the penalty area. Not a great start for the fifth official scheme.
After a couple more pointless years of the fifth officials not doing much, then came an incident which reignited the hatred and criticism directed at them.
It was the 19th June 2012 when England played Ukraine in the group stages of the European Championships. England were winning 1-0, courtesy of a Wayne Rooney goal, but when Ukraine hit England on the break, their looping shot appeared to have crossed the goal line until John Terry cleared it.
Instinct told you it was a goal. Replays told you it was a goal. The fifth official? Nothing. That could’ve turned the tables for Ukraine, potentially sending them through to the knockout stages, yet the fifth official whose job it is to spot incidents like that, did nothing of the sort.
So the saga continues over whether video technology will ever integrate into the most supported sport in the world. It appears FIFA have no intentions of adhering to calls that we need it for the good of the game, that if a goal is scored offside it’s not a goal, or that if a ball crosses the line and isn’t given it is a goal.
If rules are there to be lenient then they shouldn’t be rules. So it leaves you to answer the question: is video technology for the good of the game, or the bad? Your choice.
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