Fifth official's ill-judgment denies Manchester City goal; video technology needed

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Almost 11 months have passed since Arsenal fell victim to the ill-judgment of officials in their game against Anderlecht at the Emirates, which ignited Arsene's fury at UEFA over the appointment of fifth officials.

"I do not know what the guys behind the line are paid for. That is a general feeling shared by everyone who watches football. They should buy a seat for them, and give them a good book!" said Arsene Wenger after Vanden Borre's goal stood against his side, despite being in a blatant offside position.

We're now almost a full year on, but has much really changed? The answer, in short, is no.


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Wednesday night saw Manchester City travel to German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach in a game of huge importance for the Citizens, and one that could have been ruined for the Citizens after a bewildering decision made by the fifth official.

It left pundits, commentators, fans and even neutrals shaking their heads. Robbie Savage, who commentated the televised fixture on BT Sport, was incensed at the fifth official after the assistant missed Demichelis' effort on goal that - upon review - was a yard over the line.

It seemed almost fortuitous - with a stroke of karma, too - that seconds later, Nicolas Otamendi redirected the clearance into the net drawing City level, potentially glossing over the glaring error.

If the clearance doesn't land at Otamendi's feet and there is no equaliser, though, UEFA would likely face another backlash over their outdated officiating methods.

Manuel Pellegrini remained diplomatic in his post-match interview for BT Sport, saying: "[Only] the fifth official must signal, but thankfully it did not matter."

Overall, the game was a bad night for the assistant as he failed to contribute in a positive way to the decision of Raffael's penalty nor a poorly timed challenge on Stindl, who was wrongly booked for diving.

Having seen technology introduced into rugby, tennis and cricket to great avail, the Premier League finally succumbed to public demand in recent years with the installation of goal-line technology, which has adequately solved arguments over whether a ball crosses the line or not.

It seems, therefore, to be a no-brainer to employ the use of video playback in football to ensure that the beautiful game is as fair as it can be. 

Let's be realistic here - this is not an issue of ensuring a team get their consolation goal in a 4-0 defeat in a Sunday League football game. This is a highly competitive game of football at the precipice of European football - club football's highest level - with a lot at stake.

This week we used technology to potentially discover traces of water on a planet 140 million miles from Earth, not to mention the fact that the majority of us carry around devices in our pocket with far more computing power than that used to put a human being on the moon in 1969.

And yet, in the most popular sport on this wonderful planet, at the very highest level, we are still being subjected to human error in the hope that when the huge moments come to pass, one man will make the right decision.

The only slight positive from these recurring incidents is that each one slowly chips away at the need to implement new technology. Until then, good luck to that man on the line, who like any of us is prone to mistakes. We're only human, after all.

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