Monday, April 25, 2011

Game of two Halves: Can Australia get goal-line technology over the line?

World Cup 2010, the crowd is on tenterhooks as England push forward looking for the equaliser against a young and impressive German team. Frank Lampard's rocket of a shot smacks into the crossbar and almost as one the England team celebrate the goal and the 2 all scoreboard in the 38th minute of the second round match.

But the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda waves play on to the disbelief of the England team, English fans and football fans world-wide. Television replays show that the ball clearly crossed the line but this article has not been written in judgement of the referees, it is written to suggest, as many have done before me that the world game requires goal-line technology.


FIFA have stated their reluctance to use such technology, as reported on the WWOS website (1): "FIFA president Sepp Blatter, currently opposes introducing video and goal-line technology because he says it is too expensive to apply worldwide and would break up the flow of games."

Do these arguments have credence?

Let's look at the flow of the game. It would be a rare occasion on where this technology would be required and would not add significant time to the game. This time would be added in the same way that injury time is added to each half. To reduce the chance of the reviews being used as a time-wasting tactic, the decision to review the goal-line decisions would only be used at the discretion of the referee.

If money is the significant handicap to the adoption of the technology the cost of goal-line technology in its infancy could be minimised by the use of cameras focused on the goal-line. This is opposed to GPS trackers located in the ball and on the goal-line. Whilst this too is not perfect it is a significant improvement on not being able to review the goal decision at all.

Australia could be the perfect place to start the technology revolution. In many ways Australia has led the world in use of world record lines in swimming and 'hawk-eye technology' as well as 'hot-spot' technology in cricket. The FFA can lead the way, showing more than our video suggested for the failed 2022 World Cup bid presentation.

The decision to go to the technology could be done by an assistant referee located in the stands along the
same lines as both the NRL and cricket. The other option is to follow the example of the NFL in America where the referee uses a camera on the sideline to review the goal-line decision. By reviewing
the decisions in this way the referee is not replaced but has the ability to determine if the close call was a goal or not. If the referee is not convinced that the ball has crossed the line then he doesn't give the goal, this is in no way different to what the referee would currently do.
This is where Australia's skilled cameramen and technology experts can put both the A-League and Australian football on the map and lead the way. Something that can be followed by not only other leagues but taken up by the ultimate power in world football, FIFA.

People have argued that this technology should be extended to penalty decisions. At this stage I am opposed to these type of reviews as the decisions are far more subjective than the decision on if the ball has completely crossed the goal line or not. If goal-line reviews are seen to be successful then discussions on increasing the review process are certainly viable and welcome.

How would you feel if your team drew or lost a game due to one decision? Don't answer that too loudly, but at least with goal-line technology we have the ability to reduce the chances of a disallowed goal. This also takes pressure off those who are already subjected to enormous pressure, those people that are as vital part of the game as any other, the referee.

(1) FIFA quiet on denied England goal: Wide World of Sport, June 28, 2010.

By Paul Fredrerickson