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Premier League thankful for Hawk-Eye introduction


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By Stephen Donovan

Tuesday 21 January 2014

On Saturday spectators at the Etihad Stadium witnessed a moment of history, a moment that English football has been working towards for over three years. That, of course, was the first Premier League goal ever awarded with the aid of goal-line technology.


Martin Atkinson tests the Goal Decision System on the opening weekend at Anfield


Edin Dzeko was the scorer, and it was not the cleanest of strikes, but it was a goal which will go down in the record books. It also reinforces the relief of having Hawk-Eye available, as it seamlessly removes all controversy and aids the officials a million-fold.


The campaign for technology in England really took off after Frank Lampard’s shot against Germany in the 2010 World Cup bounced over the line. It was a turning point in the debate, as it also convinced FIFA president Sepp Blatter that action was needed, and after a long process, he has ensured that goal-line technology - though not Hawk-Eye - will be used at all future FIFA-run tournaments.


Frank Lampard’s shot crosses the line but no goal is given


Blatter’s UEFA counterpart, Michel Platini, is still unconvinced by the concept, and instead chooses to use extra officials behind the goal at the events his organisation oversees. Platini is now very much in a minority who believe that football should not follow the lead of other sports and use goal-line technology.


From that day in Bloemfontein onwards, technology could not have arrived too soon. This view was only supported by incidents involving Queens Park Rangers defender Clint Hill, two goals for Chelsea in separate games against Tottenham, and an effort from then-Everton striker Victor Anichebe against Newcastle United.


When it was announced that technology would be used in the Premier League from this season, some were still sceptical. There were worries about whether it would cause the game to be stopped for lengthy periods of time, or whether it may intensify the clamour for technology to be used for offside decisions and penalty awards.


The Goal Decision System watch


Until now though, everything has run smoothly. A quick signal to the referee’s watch and a goal is awarded, and thus no arguments can be made. However, things might become a little more complicated if Jerome Champagne is successful in his bid to take over from Blatter in 2015, with his proposals to expand the uses of the technology.


What perhaps should be introduced is more of a level playing field. As it stands, goal-line technology is only available in the Premier League, at Wembley, and at certain grounds for cup competitions. Although the system would cost money, it would be fairer for it to be in place in the Championship at the very least.


But in its current state, the technology has not failed the Premier League yet. Prior to Saturday, it had been called into action on several occasions, but Dzeko’s goal represents a breakthrough for English football at least. It is an event which goes a long way to ensuring another incident like Lampard’s is far less likely to take place.


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