Goal line technology nears in Premier League

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore signalled this week the intention of the competition to introduce goal line technology in the near future. In a review of the coming season distributed to MPs and Peers, Scudamore has suggested technology could be in place for the 2012/13 season.

Scudamore wrote: “The technology is available, it is the fairness that is important and the Premier League would introduce it tomorrow if it could,” a statement that ranks Scudamore as one of the highest-profile decision makers in football to lend their support to the introduction of technology. It is in stark contrast to UEFA President Michel Platini’s stance, after the former France international said in June: “In my opinion, technology isn’t good for football. Nobody [at UEFA] wants to bring it into our sport.” Instead, Platini favours the additional officials system, Platini claims that: “There is no more simulation in the area because there is a referee who sees it.” The truth, as ever, lies somewhere in between – goal line technology would not cure all of football’s refereeing ills, just as Platini’s extra officials have not either.

Former referee Graham Poll criticised the goal line officials during the Chelsea v Manchester United Champions League quarter-final this year for missing a foul on Ramires by Patrice Evra that should, according to Poll, have resulted in a penalty for Chelsea. Poll wrote: “UEFA are huge supporters of the additional official positioned behind the goal-line and this incident is exactly what he is there for. He had a clear unobstructed view and yet failed to help the referee.

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Former Rangers manager Walter Smith also criticised the extra officials after the Scottish club were denied what was described as a ‘blatant’ penalty during a Europa League defeat to PSV Eindhoven. Smith said: “I don’t know how many officials we have got on the pitch but they all missed it. ” Goal line technology would not have caught these incidents either but the introduction of extra officials by UEFA, soon to be followed up by FIFA for World Cup 2014 if a goal line technology system cannot be agreed upon, suggests the game’s authorities are aware of a problem within football, but the wholesale rejection of technology by Platini also suggests some are unwilling to examine every possibility of correcting it.

Goal line technology does not have quite universal backing away from UEFA either. FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said during World Cup 2010: “the use of video…is not on the table.” while the International Football Association Board (IFAB), made up of the four home nation FAs and four FIFA officials including Valcke and Sepp Blatter, voted 6-2 in March 2010 to rule out the introduction of technology. After the decision, Blatter wrote: “The game must be played in the same way no matter where you are in the world,” as a reason for voting against the measure. FIFA has, however, changed its stance somewhat, with Blatter saying this year: “If it works there should be no problem for [World Cup] 2014. But the tests we have had so far are not conclusive.” With the Premier League now hoping to lead the way, an end to this long-running saga may be in sight.

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