Saturday, March 3, 2012

Goal Line Technology Long Overdue

Exciting news out of England as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body responsible for the laws of the game of soccer, announced that two goal-line technology systems will move forward with testing.  The two systems, Hawkeye (already used in tennis and cricket) and GoalRef, will undergo further testing with the goal of introducing the technology no later than the 2014 World Cup.

The topic of goal-line technology has been a hot one in the soccer world in recent years, though the IFAB has seemed reluctant to move on the issue.  It wasn't until the 2010 World Cup that the need for goal-line technology jumped to the fore, with this missed call:

Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda, botched the call on Frank Lampard's clear equalizer in England's eventual 4-1 loss to Germany in the round of 16.  Who knows how the game would have played out if the Three Lions had been awarded the goal?  The complexion of the game would have been altered with the scoreline sitting at 2-2 instead of 2-1.

How does the assistant ref miss this call? (via @MikeMartignago)
More recently, AC Milan and Sulley Muntari were robbed of an even more obvious goal against Juventus (check out the video of the goal here).  That goal could play an important role in the Serie A title race as the match ended in a draw rather than a Milan win. Juventus currently (as of March 2) sit just 1 point behind the defending champions with a game in hand.

Despite such high profile examples of referee error, goal-line technology has some high profile opponents.  Michel Platini, head of Europe's soccer governing body UEFA, wants soccer calls to remain in human hands and support additional assistant referees instead of a technological solution.  FIFA vice-president, Prince Ali of Jordan, also opposes the introduction of goal-line technology.

If the either Hawkeye or GoalRef are to be introduced, 6 of the 8 members of the IFAB would need to support the measure.  The decision to move forward with testing is positive, as is the response from various members of the IFAB.  English FA Chief Executive, Alex Horne, expects, "that, provided the companies fulfill the criteria, [the IFAB] will be passing the use of the systems into the laws on 2 July in Kiev."

The IFAB is notoriously slow in changing the laws of the game, but soccer needs to move forward with this technology to remove one of the biggest chances for human error in the game.  Sports that hold their traditions in nearly as high esteem as soccer, such as baseball and tennis, have added technological assistance for officials in recent years.  Those additions have been generally well received, once introduced, despite some skepticism before their implementation.  I expect the same to be true when/if the beautiful game decides to move forward.


  1. I think that FIFA and UEFA must allow the incursion of technology to the soccer games, because it is really necessary to avoid unfair results and actions because the 5 referees in a a game doesn't resolve the problem, and I am talking as a sports pay per head writer who knows about this stuff

  2. I think that it is great that they are trying to include that kind of technology. It would make games more fair and more interesting for those that they are into pay per head software. There aren't grey zones. Just goal or not.