World Cup Morning Report – FIFA’s technology refusal damages the integrity of the game

Although England’s performance against Germany on Sunday did not warrant even the slightest of rewards, the fact remains that Frank Lampard’s deliciously weighted lob that clunked against the under-side of the crossbar and then bounced so obviously over the goal-line should have stood. It would have done if goal-line technology, so doable it defies belief why it has not yet been implemented, had been given the go-ahead by FIFA President Sepp Blatter long ago.

Blatter’s peculiar opposition to the introduction of goal-line technology is monumentally weak, as is any other person’s opposition of course. The oft-stated arguments against it have ranged from cost issues to undermining the referee or that introducing goal-line technology would lead to a clamour for other technology to be used within the game, such as the simple use of television replays for offside decisions, which would in turn further antiquate the referees. All these arguments are poppycock. When officials get such glaringly obvious decisions like Lampard’s ‘goal’ wrong, they undermine themselves. They lose a lot of respect and faith from the players and Coaches that they are competent in their role. Even cricket’s 3rd umpire-style, two-second look at the television replay by the fourth official could have confirmed to the referee it was a goal if neither he nor his assistant were sure. Through the quick use of a bit of technology they then get the decision correct and maintain the players’ respect as well as justice being done. What is so wrong with that?

To fan the technology argument flames a little further, Carlos Tevez’s first goal for Argentina against Mexico in Sunday’s other last-16 encounter was clearly offside. The BBC’s John Motson used the ensuing mayhem when the replay of the goal was accidentally shown on the big screen inside the ground to argue against the introduction of technology being used during games. He stated it undermines the referee and it would be difficult to know where to draw the line, suggesting even television replays could be called upon to judge contentious throw-in decisions. This is of course a vast overreaction. Throw-in decisions do not decide a game’s outcome. The bare fact as to whether the ball has crossed the goal-line or not does, and this is where the line should be drawn in terms of technology use, despite Tevez’s offside goal triggering widespread controversy and calls such as Gary Lineker’s for a tennis-style, three referrals system.

Although fairly viable, a referral system, as has been proved when used in Test matches in cricket, throws up a whole host of obstacles and grey areas in terms of how, when and by whom they should or could be used. Furthermore, it is wholly right that sport and its competitors should demonstrate deference to authority – an overuse of television replays through referrals would jeopardise this. Key offside decisions or determining whether a player has fouled an opponent for example could be match-changing, but it is certainly less painful to take when on the wrong end of such decisions than a goal-line decision. The technology is not an issue in terms of being available and money is also not an issue. Therefore goal-line decisions and goal-line decisions only need to start being referred through a television replay or through goal-line technology. It is a must.

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