Time for technology?

January 1, 2000


Ken Masters’

Web Watch


Many things may change over the course of the season and at this halfway point, with the transfer window open, the amount of change is intensified.

New managers are in post at a good number of clubs across the Leagues and the rate of player transfer and loan deals is at a mid season high.

One aspect of the game that never seems to change is the controversy arising from refereeing decisions and the impact that those decisions may have on performance and results. The high profile FA Cup Third Round tie between Manchester United, and a Liverpool side led by Kenny Dalglish, did not fail us; a penalty awarded to United after just a few seconds of the game and Liverpool down to ten men before half time in the game.

The BBC Sport web site reported Howard Webb’s penalty decision and Kenny’s take; he was clearly not happy and neither would I or techi any of us have been as far as I can see; not a penalty. As far as the sending off, well it was both feet off. the ground and sliding or even jumping in; these days, that’s a sending off

Over to the Official Referees Association web for any reactions. You will not find that sort of posting from them, and I can understand that, but what I did find interesting was the very referee’s views on the use of technology to aid difficult refereeing decisions. “Webb supports use of technology in football” was the leading story line.

The posting goes on, “One of the world’s leading referees has told BBC Sport that he is in favour of seeing goal line technology introduced. Top Premier League referee Howard Webb, who took charge of this year’s World Cup final, said that cameras on the goal line would help improve football.

“It’s got to be worth looking at to make our job on those really crucial decisions that bit easier,” he said.

“I don’t think you’ll find many referees who say ‘it’s not something we want1. [But] it’s difficult to do.”

Back in October the BBC site reported that UEFA president Michel Platini believes goal line technology would lead to ‘Playstation football’. Platini further told the Scottish Football Associations web site “The referee has to be helped by clubs, fans, players, media and authorities, it is why we have added two assistants for Champions League games.”


I have to ask myself just what the clubs, fans et al have got to do with that. Perhaps Michel was misquoted, or quoted out of context, it does not make any sort of sense otherwise. What we do know quite clearly is the UEFA president is opposed to any sort of technology to aid referees and has been from the outset.

The International Football Association Board – the body that determines the laws of the game – will report to world governing body FIFA in March after a period of testing different goal line technologies. FIFA re opened discussions on the subject after ruling it out for some time, but there remains strong opposition in certain quarters.

Unlike Michel Platini, highly respected Englishman Webb is the man in the middle and has a different view.

“It’s a matter of fact, whether or not all of the ball has crossed all of the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar,” he said. “Bearing in mind that’s the entire aim of the sport, to score a goal.

“If we were to have some support – some assistance that was totally accurate and totally reliable – and instantaneous, then I guess it’s got to be worth looking at.”


The most recent high profile example of when goal line technology may have assisted referees in making correct Jecisions was during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A long-range shot from England midfielder Frank Lampard clearly crossed the line in a last 16 match against Germany, but referee Jorge Larrionda did not award a goal. That incident led to renewed calls for technology in football as the game’s ruling authorities came under heavy criticism.

 Webb, though, says he can understand why a quick breakthrough with the introduction of goal line technology is not easy.

“It’s difficult to do,” he added. We sit here in 2010 and other sports have embraced certain types of technology. Football hasn’t – but that tells me that’s because it’s really difficult, without changing the basic way the game is played. That’s the fear, which I understand.”

 I can understand that fear too. We do not want the game stopped every two seconds with protracted delays for this and that, and there remains the burning guestion as to how the game is to be restarted depending on the technology decision with the play having been stopped.

Howard Webb is guite right; it is difficult, but what is equally difficult for clubs, fans, players, media and authorities is bad refereeing decisions that are blatantly obvious and affect, or at worse, dictate the result of football matches.


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