Sunday, 21 April 2013

Is Goal-line Technology a Good Idea?

From the beginning of the 2013/14 season goal-line technology will be used in the Premier League. Does it have a place in the beautiful game?

There is no doubt over the years goals that were, were not and goals that were not, were. Isn’t it all part of the love of football? How boring would it be if every decision was correct? A little bit of controversy fuels the conversation of that evening’s local boozers, doesn’t it? However, surely it can’t be right when 20,000 people know that the ball crossed the line yet the man with the whistle in the middle of the park doesn’t.

When you look at it, referees have an impossible and thankless task. They see the action once in real time but are subject to television and newspaper scrutiny for days to come when they get a decision wrong. I would wager that most of the pundits would make far more mistakes over the course of the same match. But that’s another argument altogether.

In the Premier League, every single league place is worth prize money. So even on the last day of the season those extra couple of points could maybe be worth millions of pounds. This is a lot of responsibility for one man and his two assistants.

To put this in perspective, in the American National Football League they have no less than seven officials on the pitch during the game and they also use a video referee on top of that. The chances of a wrong decision being made must be greatly reduced.

The system that has been chosen by the top-flight of English football is Hawk-Eye. This is of course already in use in this country in cricket, tennis and snooker. However, I see a fundamental difference between these sports and association football. The ball is only in play for short periods and then dead, giving plenty of time to question disputes. This isn’t necessarily the case with football.

Take Frank Lampard’s shot against Germany in the 2012 World Cup. Almost everyone on the planet saw that it had crossed the line but Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda, hadn’t and play continued. Within seconds, England nearly conceded after a counter-attack culminating with Lukas Podolski’s shot whipping past David James’ left hand post.

If goal line technology was in place at the time what would the referee had done if Podolski’s shot had hit the back of the net? Would he have had a decision quick enough to stop the game before this happened? Well, according to the Premier League, yes he would.

A statement on their website said: “There are seven cameras at each end of the stadium focused on the goals. The most common location for the cameras is on the roof of the stadium, however there is a great deal of flexibility in the camera positions. The images from each of the cameras are processed to find the ball within the image and identify areas which are not the ball. They track the ball when it comes into their range and they can tell when the whole of it crosses the goal-line. When such an event occurs, within a second the outcome is relayed to the match referee via a watch that Hawk-Eye has exclusively developed with Adeunis. The signal is encrypted and is unaffected by interference.”

A second is pretty quick and would undoubtedly have been fast enough to stop the game and signal a goal. In fact, most offside decisions take longer than that already.

The statement went on to say: “The Hawk-Eye system betters the FIFA margin-of-error requirement of +/-3cm.” This seems a reasonable tolerance and is undeniable more accurate than the human eye.

This cannot be a bad thing for the game in my opinion. I am sure there will be people who don’t want to see it but if the technology is available why not use it? I’m sure some were against floodlights, squad numbers and even nets at one time or another but I don’t think many would want these improvements removing nowadays. Like most innovations in the game, give it a few years and people will be wondering what we ever did without it.

I am personally looking forward to the match where the first goal is given using the system and moreover being able to watch Alan Hansen have absolutely no argument whatsoever on that night's Match of the Day.

I hope the Football League moves swiftly to join the Premier League with the introduction of the system. The only matter of concern would be who would foot the bill. Should it be the league or the Club? I’m not sure. It will probably be us who have to stump up the cash, but if that means we are allowed a goal that beats Blackburn Rovers then it will be money well spent.

What do you think about goal-line technology and would you want to see it at Turf Moor?

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