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This House would introduce goal line technology in football
This House would introduce goal line technology in football
At the moment, FIFA does not permit goal-line technology (GLT) or video replays during matches, although it is permitted for post-match disciplinary measures. In a 1970 meeting of the International Football Association Board, FIFA "request[ed] the television authorities to refrain from any slow-motion play-back which reflected, or might reflect, adversely on any decision of the referee". Yet despite this, controversy rages over the so-called ‘ghost’-goals that are all too frequent in the current game. However, on Wednesday 4th May, The Guardian newspaper reported that FIFA is set to consider the possibility of introducing goal-line technology in time for the 2012-13 season.1 It is not the first time FIFA has requested that companies undergo a formal testing procedure but there is one key difference this time: they will be permitted to do so at a stadium of their own choosing. Previously, every one of the dozen or so companies who underwent the tests at FIFA House had fallen foul of the short set-up time and unrealistic conditions that were imposed there. There will be a number of strict criteria to satisfy in the two rounds of testing. Technologies must demonstrate a minimum of 90% accuracy in recognising whether both a static or a moving ball is across the line. Technologies must also inform the referee about goal-line incidents with both a vibration and a display signal to his watch, wherever he is on the pitch. The testing will be carried out under both daylight and floodlight conditions. The news will be welcomed by UK companies such as Hawk-Eye and Goalminder, who are convinced that their products are already 100% accurate. This announcement, coupled with FIFAs previously unrelenting stance on GLT, has re-ignited the technology debate. Should GLT be introduced to global football?
|Points For||Points Against|
|The introduction of technology is inevitable||The dynamics of football as a game are very different from other sports which currently use technology|
|Technology is available||The cost would not match FIFA's aim of opening football to the world|
|GLT is used across a range of other sports||Controversy and debate are a part of the game|
|Technology is more reliable than human judgement||The cost of GLT is unjustified for a relatively rare scenario|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
The introduction of technology is inevitable
Football is moving into the twenty-first century, yet the refusal to embrace GLT is completely out-dated. Nowhere in FIFA policy does it state that referees cannot use the influence of technology. In FIFAs disciplinary code (2009), Article 72 states that: 1) "During matches, disciplinary decisions are taken by the referee", and 2) "These decisions are final"1. The referee already "acts on the advice of the assistant referees regarding incidents that he has not seen" and can change decisions based on advice2. All referees also have an earpiece (introduced in 2006) linking the two assistant refs and the fourth official, which already demonstrates technology's successful impact in football. GLT is simply the next step.Improve this
Football has operated successfully for over 100 years without GLT. Two assistant referees were introduced in 1891, 28 years after the rules of association football were coined; a fourth official was introduced in 1991; and FIFA recently introduced two additional assistant referees in Europa League games. Football has demonstrated that it is willing and capable to adjust to the demands of wider exposure without having to resort to GLT.Improve this
Technology is available
GLT technology is readily available and could be quickly implemented. Hawkeye, used in tennis and cricket, would serve the GLT purpose very well. Though eventually dismissed, it was suggested that GPS technology could measure whether players are offside or not. Cameras are already set up for television with enough angles to make decisions; it would be simple to set up monitors pitch-side so that officials could watch replayed footage. Currently, viewers watching at home are able to make much more informed decisions than match officials.Improve this
It would still require a large initial outlay of cash in order to equip all stadiums with the technology and train officials in using it. Also, the technology would need to be constantly re-designed and re-developed so that it could keep up with technological advances; this would be extremely expensive and endless, but necessary to keep technology up-to-date, relevant and fit for purpose. Some people suggest that the money would be better spent improving existing official options, such as improving refereeing academies.Improve this
GLT is used across a range of other sports
Technology has been proven to work across a wide range of sports from tennis, cricket and rugby. A survey of its implementation in the 2011 Australian Open demonstrates the impact that guaranteeing correct decisions had on several games.1 It has become a natural aid to sport. GLT would only be used on a goal decision, much like tennis uses challenges only once a rally has stopped.
Football is no more fluid a sport than any of the others. If a debatable goal were scored, play would stop anyway while one team celebrates and the other protests to the officials.
1 Kelvin Goodchild, Hawk-eye: Big Impact at Crucial Moments, TennisLife Magazine, 29th January 2011, (accessed 25/05/11)
Challenges in tennis and cricket are limited to three per side – here the number of challenges are potentially unlimited and GLT could be invoked whenever a team senses the possibility of gaining an advantage. Without limitations, the game could be endlessly stopped while officials turn to technology to confirm their decisions.
Football is a continuous game, with a natural ebb and flow, which the interruptions caused by GLT would disrupt.Improve this
Technology is more reliable than human judgement
Goals are the ultimate measure of success in football; technology would reduce the risk of teams losing matches unfairly due to controversial decisions (see FIFA World Cup Quarter Final 2010 England v Germany). There is no reason to expose referees to criticism, threats and derision when we have the means to help them. GLT is a tool meant to assist referees in their decisions, not undermine them.
Howard Webb has added his voice to the pro-technology debate: "anything that makes my job easier, that makes me more credible, I've an open mind to. We are still using human opinion in those decisions and maybe on a matter of fact like the goal-line some technology might be the way forward. I personally prefer it when there is no debate about the referees. It's a difficult position, [to judge over the line]. It's at speed, and it ain't easy. Sometimes I feel in a less than privileged position by not having the opportunity [to use technology] but that's where we are. It's for other people to decide where that argument goes."1
Currently, referees are condemned for making honest mistakes when they have not done anything deliberately wrong. There will always be human error when subjective decisions must be made; this cannot be eradicated but we have a responsibility to minimise the risk. GLT may not change many games but its focus is about consistency and quality assurance.
1: Ian Ladyman, Howard Webb calls for goalline technology as World Cup final referee returns to Barclays Premier League duty, MailOnline, 10th September 2010, (accessed 24/05/11)
Take, for example, Sunderland’s freak victory at Liverpool in October 2009, the so called ‘Beachball incident’ where a winning goal was deflected off a large red beach ball, it may well have gone in anyway but it undoubtedly distracted the keeper.1 GLT and instant replays would not have resolved the controversy, as the ambiguity was legal; the law did not have a clear position on the incident. GLT would have been useless here; it is only as useful as the laws and humans behind it.
In March 2010 FIFA president Sepp Blatter argued added: "No matter which technology is applied, at the end of the day a decision will have to be taken by a human being. This being the case, why remove the responsibility from the referee to give it to someone else?”2
Decisions would still be at the discretion of the person watching the video (a second referee, of sorts), who must interpret what he or she sees in a limited space of time.
The dynamics of football as a game are very different from other sports which currently use technology
In other sports there is just one question: was the ball in or out? Was the player safe or out? In football, the issue would not be that simple. Not only would the GLT-operative have to consider whether the ball was wholly over the line or not, but they would also have to look at the build up to ensure that the goal was legitimate. Was there a foul? An offside? As in the notorious case of the 2010 World Cup Qualifier Play-off France v Ireland, was there a handball? This would not only be extremely time-consuming and thus detract from the spectacle of the game, but could also be potentially endless. In cricket or tennis this delay is more natural as matches are expected to take several hours; one of the hallmarks of football is it’s frenetic pace. Challenges could not be limited in an attempt to prevent this, because if a team were to run out and a blatant wrong decision were noticed they would be in the same position as they are now; GLT would have achieved nothing.Improve this
GLT would not be used to assess any and every incident in a match; it would only be invoked to support a referee when a goal-line decision was particularly difficult to judge from a distance. The referees would exercise due diligence in referring to it, and it is likely that many games would pass without it being necessary.Improve this
The cost would not match FIFA's aim of opening football to the world
Only professional clubs and national federations have the resources to install the technology in stadiums. This would further increase the gap that is emerging between local clubs and high-revenue leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A.
Further, currently amateur teams playing on Sundays play the same game, with the same rules and ethos, as the professionals. With GLT, many argue that this would no longer be the case. In a press conference in March 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote: "One of the main objectives of FIFA is to protect the universality of the game of association football... If you are coaching a group of teenagers in any small town around the world, they will be playing with the same rules as the professional players they see on TV."1
For example, the FA Cup has 4 or 5 qualifying rounds consisting of amateur and semi-professional knock-out phases because the Premier League teams with GLT capability are introduced. This could mean that games are run according to different rules at different stages of the same competition (and, indeed, possible even the same round if some clubs draw Premier League teams and others are small-club affairs).Improve this
It is a fallacy to say that if GLT cannot be applied to all levels of football it should not be applied at all. Nobody is suggesting that GLT be set up for all games down to grassroots level. Compromise is necessary in order to encourage reform within in a game whose stance on technology is anachronistic.
Also, other sports have only implemented technology in the professional sphere. They recognise that there is a massive amount of money and emotion invested in the professional game, and fairness is deserved as a reward.
If both teams know the rules, they can both play the game according to the same standard; GLT would not make teams play with different rules, it would just mean that some games are better equipped.Improve this
Controversy and debate are a part of the game
Controversy will always be a part of the game; because laws must be interpreted by an individual, fouls will always be called on the basis of opinion, even if that is someone re-watching the incident on a monitor. If fans accepted mistakes as exactly that, they would cease to matter; the authority of the referee would be absolute and the game would move on without undue mention. GLT is unnecessary.
Sepp Blatter famously argued that "Fans love to debate any given incident in a game. It is part of the human nature of our sport"1. Supporters love to hate the referee; it provides them with a scapegoat for defeat. With GLT, the authority of referees would be irrevocably diminished. They would become merely cogs in a mechanic process of decision making. If we come to rely on cameras to govern the game, the passion is drained from it.
1 Ian Ladyman, Howard Webb calls for goalline technology as World Cup final referee returns to Barclays Premier League duty, MailOnline, 10th September 2010, (accessed 24/05/11)Improve this
Supporters love the game, not the soap opera. As Howard Webb articulated, "Controversy is not the reason why I watch football but we need to be careful not to change what draws millions to football. I still keep an open mind of the future. It's a tricky thing to do."1We must progress on terms of reason, not tradition.Improve this
The cost of GLT is unjustified for a relatively rare scenario
In order for a goal to stand, the ball must completely cross the line; to have a situation where this is in doubt is very rare. Introducing GLT would be to completely change the nature of football for the least significant occurrence.
These incidents tend to balance out over the season. Teams do not win leagues or are not relegated because of one isolated incident in one game; they win because of skill, strength and tactics, over the course of 90 minutes for a game, and a whole season for a league.Improve this
The frequency of use is not the point of GLT. It is a back-up system, a support infrastructure, whose purpose is to help minimise inconsistencies and serve justice when called upon. The cost is a small price to pay for the transformative effect it could have upon the one game where it matters. Early in the 2009/10 season Crystal Palace had a goal ruled out against Bristol City after it had actually gone in the net and bounced out.1 They lost two points because neither the referee nor the assistant referee saw the ball go in the net, and if Palace had not beaten Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the season, they would have been relegated because of it. Given Palaces' dire financial situation, this would almost certainly have resulted in the club being liquidated. Just because it is rare, that does not mean it is not valuable.