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Yes to goal-line technology in AFL, but how will it work?

Ben Somerford Roar Guru

By Ben Somerford,


19 Have your say

    AFL 2011 Media - AFL Media Conference

    AFL General Manager of Football Operations, Adrian Anderson, addresses the media during an AFL media conference, to detail the results of the competition's Illicit Drugs Policy, at AFL House in Melbourne.

    It’s funny to think this is what it takes, but finally after two incidents in the past four Grand Finals where a goal has been incorrectly awarded after the ball glanced off the post, the AFL are seriously investigating goal-line technology. Well, at least that’s what they’re telling us.

    Fresh in the memory for most AFL fans was Collingwood onballer Sharrod Wellingham’s ghost goal in the third quarter of the 2011 Grand Final when the ball clearly hit the post on its way through.

    However, what’s easily forgotten is a similar incident occurred two years ago, in the 2009 Grand Final, when Geelong’s Tom Hawkins booted a major which on second glance clearly hit the post. The goal was awarded and eventually the Cats got up narrowly, with a goal kicked after the siren sealing a 12-point victory.

    Such tight decisions can clearly affect the way a game pans out and its eventual result. In Grand Finals, the result at stake is alot more than just another four points.

    So in the wake of the ‘Wellingham ghost goal’ and as part of the AFL’s annual rules review, Chairman of the Laws Committee chairman Adrian Anderson wrote to all 18 clubs on Tuesday outlining the latest topics discussed at the organisation’s meeting on Monday, which also saw the controversial substitute and advantage rules confirmed for 2012.

    It was also revealed the use of video technology to aid goal umpires had been discussed and would be a hot topic at another meeting in November. Whether anything comes from it, we’ll have to wait and see.

    However, AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan made some interesting comments on Tuesday, when he said: “It (technology) has to be implemented.

    “If Geelong lost the Grand Final by less than a kick there’d be serious and legitimate outrage from Geelong supporters when everyone knew within seconds it had hit the post.

    “I do believe we have to use technology. It’s a question of how you do it without potentially creating more problems. Sometimes you’re not able to pick it up and we don’t want to delay the game.

    “My personal view is you should be using technology as long as it doesn’t slow down the game.”

    McLachlan makes a good point.

    And while many will argue umpires make mistakes all the time so why single out goal-line decisions, the obvious rebuttal is if it can be cleared up definitively within seconds while the game naturally stops (as it does when a score is registered) then it makes alot of sense to do so.

    The burning issue then is how to find a system whereby such decisions don’t interrupt the game greatly.

    We know how important zones are in the AFL these days, and a quick kick-out from a behind can be crucial to be breaking down one. That’s an vital point, whereby technology wouldn’t affect the integrity of the contest.

    Then there’s also the other point for the spectator, whereby consulting the replay could take too long and make a game of footy even longer. The length of your average game of AFL footy is something which I think often gets overlooked. Few other sports worldwide take almost three hours.

    Both are aforementioned issues which need to be addressed when finding a solution.

    Perhaps teams get a set number of appeals they can use per match, as Matthew Scarlett would’ve loved to have done after Wellingham’s goal when the umpire seemed oblivious to his argument.

    Maybe such a system is open to abuse, as clubs could potentially use it to stem momentum.

    But then there’s other issues about how smoothly the operation of video review would work and how quickly it could take place.

    Indeed, currently there’s no clear system being discussed which would ensure the introduction of video technology would be unobtrusive and not affect the integrity of the game.

    And as the topic isn’t a burning issue in the game right now, I doubt much will happen at that November meeting.

    Then again, if there was ever a time to really look into a solution, now is it, after two Grand Final incidents in the past three years.

    Indeed, the discussion to be had about video technology isn’t about whether it needs to be introduced, but when it is eventually introduced, how it’ll work without affecting the integrity of the contest and without lengthening the game even more.

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • October 13th 2011 @ 9:17am
      IAN said | October 13th 2011 @ 9:17am | ! Report


    • October 13th 2011 @ 10:03am
      Ian Whitchurch said | October 13th 2011 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      It’ll just slow the game down, and mistakes will still be made.

      Number eight on that list – an officiating error that costs Seattle the superbowl. Not that Im still bitter.

      [expletives deleted] Steelers. [expletives deleted> helmet. [expletives deleted> refs. [expletives deleted> instant replay.

    • October 13th 2011 @ 10:51am
      Sean Fagan said | October 13th 2011 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      Perhaps the problem is over-stated to begin with – but accepting it is a problem that needs resolving, and that today’s video technology will show up “errors” that past generations were blissfully unaware of, why introduce a video replay (with all its downsides as set out in the story above) when an easier solution is to count the goal irrespective of whether there is a touch on the post or not. Both options change the game, but one clearly seems to be the lesser of two evils.

      • October 13th 2011 @ 11:11am
        Cugel said | October 13th 2011 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        Unlikely because a> other sports allow goals off the post, not being AFL are therefore automatically inferior, or b> Some Aussie thought up the poster, thus it is inherently the best method.

        • October 13th 2011 @ 7:53pm
          stabpass said | October 13th 2011 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

          It suits our game, dont think anyone claimed it was inherently better than any other game -except you !!.

        • October 14th 2011 @ 12:10am
          amazonfan said | October 14th 2011 @ 12:10am | ! Report

          Or according to you: other sports allow goals off the post, not being Australian football are therefore automatically superior, and since Europeans and Americans don’t use the poster, therefore it is inherently the worse method.

          Has it occurred to you that simply because other sports do things differently, it doesn’t mean that Australian football have to do what they do?

      • October 14th 2011 @ 12:08am
        amazonfan said | October 14th 2011 @ 12:08am | ! Report

        Absolutely not! A goal should be clean. I like that if it touches the posts, it is not counted. There may be things wrong with football, however I don’t think it is one of them.

        If there is a lesser of the two evils, I think it is by far video technology.

    • October 13th 2011 @ 3:14pm
      Brian said | October 13th 2011 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

      Seems overkill I cant recall one game ever being decided by a goal umpire. I would rather have replays for one on one contests inside 50, much more vital to the game’s outcome. A review of the tribunal’s inconsistencies wouldnt go astray either before we worry about the 1 in 1000 wrong decision on goal umpiring

    • October 13th 2011 @ 6:27pm
      Seige said | October 13th 2011 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

      Have impact sensors in the posts, if its close to the post the goal umpire can look at a little receiver, maybe like a wrist watch to check if there was any impact as he is walking up to the line. Would result in no stoppage in play, easy

      • October 13th 2011 @ 8:10pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | October 13th 2011 @ 8:10pm | ! Report


        Until a defender bumps into the post “completely accidentally” while “trying to tap the ball”.

        • October 13th 2011 @ 9:32pm
          Dingo said | October 13th 2011 @ 9:32pm | ! Report


          I’m not opposed to the idea, particularly when nobody likes games to be won or lost on errors made by the umpires , regardless of whether they are human or not (*). What will make my blood boil is if errors are still made when using the technology AND if it slows the game down unnecessarily.

          (*) If my team wins it’s ok.

          • October 13th 2011 @ 9:36pm
            Ian Whitchurch said | October 13th 2011 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

            Like I said. [expletives deleted] Steelers. [expletives deleted> helmet. [expletives deleted> refs. [expletives deleted> instant replay.

    • October 13th 2011 @ 7:49pm
      stabpass said | October 13th 2011 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

      I say no !!, i am quite happy with the current system, what goes around, comes around, mistakes will be made.

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