Goal-line technology would harm football
The current debate over goal-line technology cannot be adequately resolved by a simple answer of either yes or no. The implications of this topic for the world of football cannot be overemphasised.
It is therefore of absolute importance that we adopt a rational approach to the issue. Both advocates and opponents of the technology should be well informed.
I think that we all know the arguments in favour of goal-line technology, so I won’t waste much time poking at dead meat.
Many have voiced their support for the technology with the simplistic reasoning that “we need to reach the right decision”. Folks, it’s just not that simple.
In actual fact, goal-line technology threatens the very integrity of football and distances the game from its founding rules and regulations.
The beautiful game has a long and proud history, rooted in its simple set of laws, which are adjudicated from the subjective perspective of the referee. This is what football is about. It is engraved in the sport’s DNA.
By design, football has an unmatched propensity to enthral and entertain, largely due to the fluidity which comes from its attack/counter-attack game. Dilly-dabbling with the rules, which allow this fluidity, is inadvisable. But does goal-line technology really threaten this aspect of the game?
Well, for us to give a qualified response to this question, we must examine the goal-line technology systems which are on the cards.
On July 5, FIFA gave approval to two companies, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, to begin testing their goal-line technologies. Both companies are currently in Japan, preparing to commence final testing in November. The aim is to have this technology ready in time for the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
GoalRef uses a microchip in the ball to communicate with an antenna system around the goal which determines whether the ball has crossed the line.
Hawk-Eye, on the other hand, utilises cameras around the stadium to track the ball. The software can distinguish between the ball and its surroundings. The mechanism is practical; when the ball crosses the line, the referee will be alerted by a device on his arm which will vibrate accordingly.
So has the future of football arrived on our doorsteps?
The implementation of goal-line technology, though well-intended, may open the door for further technology-driven changes to the beautiful game. In other words, this may be just the beginning of a plethora of changes (or ‘enhancements’, as many proponents would call them) to football.
Michel Platini shared this view earlier this year when he said: “I am totally against it. Let’s have humans. I remain consistent. It’s not a question of goal-line technology – it’s the question of the beginning of technology in football. I am totally against it.”
In reality, goals are worth millions nowadays, so the desire for accuracy is understandable. To put it bluntly, with the exorbitant amounts of money involved in modern football, it would be naive to expect the powers that be to ignore the fans’ desire for the correct decision to be made.
Wait a minute, I’m having an epiphany. Ehhm this is all about reaching the ‘correct’ decision, right?
Okay, bear with me. Let’s consider this scenario for a moment: a team is awarded a corner kick by the referee. As we, the viewers, can clearly see via television replay, this was the wrong decision. The team wrongfully awarded the corner then score from this corner – which the referee is made aware of by goal-line technology.
In this particular scenario, a combination of human error (the referee awarding the corner kick in the first place) and goal-line technology has ultimately led to an unfair decision – fail! There should never have been a corner in the first place, and the primary error was further aggravated by the awarding of the goal.
Can we thus surmise that a combination of the two is inefficient and, well, useless? Think about it. A mixture of the two will only cause more controversy.
Yes, this scenario is just an example from my imagination, but these are the situational conflicts that we will be faced with.
So if, through this technology, we realise that a goal has been scored, would it not be in-line with the measure for us to go back to the beginning of the entire play and search for any transgressions of the law? What if it is offside? What if there was a clear foul two plays back? Let’s be careful not to ‘cross the line’ here (couldn’t resist).
The introduction of goal-line technology will only give us the natural temptation to call for further enhancements. There will be more changes and more technology to eliminate any imperfections in the game.
Any argument that the correct decision will ultimately be made is feeble. Human error is by no means eradicated. In fact, in situations like the one I outlined, it is exacerbated.
Human error has helped to make the game as intriguing and explosive as it is. Why threaten this?
Do not be drawn into the unqualified argument that football must move forward with the times or risk falling behind. Goal-line technology is not necessary.
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