In the wake of Chelsea’s victory over Tottenham in the semi finals of the FA Cup, the ongoing debate surrounding goal-line technology in football has again reared its ugly head.
Quite simply, football needs goal-line technology – sensors placed in the ball and goalmouth that would be triggered when the entire ball has crossed the entire goal line, to signal a goal. Football needs this technology now, in all leagues where it is practical to do so.
Furthermore, it is high time FIFA stopped burying its collective head in the sand over this issue.
I realise that the ‘controversial’ goal from the Chelsea-Spurs match was the second for Chelsea in a game that ended with them winning 5-1, and that only the most one-eyed Spurs fan would say that Chelsea didn’t deserve to win the match.
Conversely, only the most one-eyed Chelsea fan would say that the ball did, indeed, cross the goal-line (it did not).
Neither of these, however, is the point.
The point is that had the match finished 2-1 to Chelsea – Spurs did pull a goal back before being overrun late – with the disputed goal being the difference between the two teams, the post-match analysis could have been very different.
We’ll never know what would have happened had the referee simply waived play on, but what we do know is that the goal should not have been awarded.
What amazes me is that the technology to ensure that these decisions are correct is available, so why not use it? Up until now, it is simply sheer dumb luck that a decision stemming from the award, or non-award, of such a goal hasn’t cost a team a title, a promotion/relegation or a tournament qualification.
Do FIFA really need for a goal-line controversy to decide a World Cup final before they will take action on this matter?
Mostly these incidents pass without harm – despite the controversy surrounding Chelsea’s goal, they did go on to win the game quite comfortably. The controversy did not have any bearing on the final result.
Another example is of England’s 4-1 loss to Germany at the 2010 World Cup. Frank Lampard ‘scored’ for England in the knock-out stages, only for the legitimate goal to be disallowed. The incident occurred two minutes after England had scored to make it 2-1. A second goal in the space of three minutes could have turned the game.
Despite these two ‘no harm done’ examples, goal-line incidents can have ramifications. Liverpool and Chelsea supporters still argue to this day regarding the legitimacy of Luis Garcia’s winning ‘goal’ from the 2005 Champions League semi-final. Did it cross the line? Did the Chelsea defence clear the ball in time?
Without this controversial goal, Liverpool may not have gone on to the European Cup final, where the club would record arguably the greatest victory in their storied history.
Bottom line, FIFA needs to embrace the 21st century. Many sports, including rugby league, cricket, tennis, baseball, American football and ice hockey employ various forms of replay/technology in their top leagues and competitions.
These sports utilise the technology available to them because they want to assist their match officials in striving to ensure key decisions that can turn games, tournaments or even seasons are made correctly.
FIFA would be wise to follow suit.