July 5th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Will FIFA regret opening technology can of worms?

England have been involved in three notable goal-line technology controversies since 1966.
England have been involved in three notable goal-line technology controversies since 1966.

Good enough for American Football, basketball, baseball, tennis, rugby league, rugby union and cricket; good enough even for the Professional Bull Riders organization; and now finally, good enough for association football.

Following the countless pleadings of managers, players, the media and the fans after some horrendously embarrassing examples of goals that have not been given despite the ball crossing the line, FIFA is to allow the use of technology in the sport.

After years of opposition Sepp Blatter, through FIFA’s law-making body the International Football Association Board has given the thumbs up, even if UEFA president Michel Platini’s digit remains fiercely down as he continues to oppose this new development.

The change means football conversations will never be the same again as future generations of fans will be denied the opportunity to talk endlessly about whether the ball had actually crossed the line.

As a Briton it sometimes feels as if we talk about nothing else apart from Geoff Hurst's goal in 1966, Frank Lampard's non-goal in 2010 and John Terry's clearance in England's match with the Ukraine in Euro 2012, despite the ball crossing the line.

And no doubt Romania’s Dorinel Munteanu’s shot against Bulgaria which bounced over the line before being cleared in Euro '96 is still endlessly debated in cafes and restaurants up and down the Balkan country.

No doubt referees will also breathe a huge sigh of relief that they will no longer have to watch endless replays of their goal-line mistakes or be on the receiving end of the opprobrium of pundits and fans alike.

Rather sadly it also means it is unlikely a stadium will ever again carry the name of a match official, as happened when the Azerbaijan national stadium was named in honor of Tofik Bakhramov, the “Russian” linesman who told referee Gottfried Dienst that Hurst’s shot had crossed the line when England beat Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley in 1966.

Bahramov is such an iconic figure in Azerbaijan that there is even a statue of him in the capital city of Baku.

In truth there have not been that many cases in international football of goals not being awarded correctly, but a British website Untold Arsenal, which has a team of qualified referees who have reviewed more than 40% of Premier League games from last season, argues that two or three goals each match day were wrongly given or wrongly disallowed, which suggests the FIFA u-turn is a welcome development.

At the moment FIFA’s decision to embrace this new-fangled tech stuff is strictly limited to goal-line technology. But if it has taken its time, as it tends to like to do,  FIFA has crossed the Rubicon.

It is a decision which begs an intriguing question, will world soccer's governing body now have to fight a daily battle to avoid technology creeping further into the sport?

If technology can be used to adjudge whether the ball has crossed the line, why not for debatable offside decisions or incorrect red cards? And why shouldn’t managers be allowed to challenge decisions as they do in American Football and tennis?

Pandora’s Box has been well and truly opened.  But how long will it be before a campaign will be up and running demanding FIFA allow technology to play an even greater part in the running of the game?

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. jumpingpolarbear

    I would like it to stay as it is. Errors even each other out. Just ask England :).

    July 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  2. Killian Donnellan

    Great that goal line technology is being introuduced into football. On your question about that technology could spread into other areas of football. The solution to that is too make sure referees and linesman are better at their job. They need more training to improve their judgement on things

    July 5, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  3. blublu

    @jumpingpolarbear Have you even watch football games to know how much matches was won by the wrong team just because of referee blunders at the goal?

    July 6, 2012 at 2:44 am | Reply
  4. Farhad

    Dear John Sinnott, Tofik Bakhramov wasn't Russian linesman, he was Azerbaijan-Sovet linesman.

    July 6, 2012 at 7:17 am | Reply
  5. boogie

    About time. No other decision making process has the finality of goals in the game of football. Therefore, it shouldn't be compared with anything else like off-side, foul and penalty decisions. Platini does not have a better argument than to continue flawed ref. decisions unabated in football. Meanwhile, Platini/UEFA's so called alternative of 5refrees has just failed woefully during the England/Ukraine match. Please....

    July 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  6. Steve

    Dear Farhad. John Sinnott knows that, which is why he used "quotation marks" around Russian. He was being ironic.

    July 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Reply
  7. TheKidPR

    About TIME!!!

    July 9, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
  8. zack

    Is a good decission, but that should apply in the field of play. officiators to be mindful of their profferssion.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  9. Clive P White

    I believe that this decision should have happen' "if available" at least two or three seasons ago. I cannot understand what the fuss is all about. Football has tried adding more than one Ref and still there are goals scored only to be ruled out.
    Rugby in the UK has video ref at every match being played and it works very well for the sport.
    Something must be done sooner than latter' if not the ref will be having so many players around him telling they believe the goal should stand.
    Please lets get everything sorted out and lets get on in playing the game and it should be' it is 2012 and the arguments will go on and on' it will mean football will suffer in the long term.
    If the official behind the goal can't tell if the ball had crossed the line or not' bring on the camera to sort out this mess.

    July 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  10. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    No harm in trying goal line technology. For a while it could be employed on an experimental basis in top footballing nations. Later on FIFA, UEFA and other Continental FAs could come to a consensus to have it or not.

    July 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  11. Simplicity

    "goal techinology"?! how about jsut usign the video reply when available. FIFA will likely overdo it, and use it ONLY for goals. YOu could have an additiona ref, watchign the game jsut like you and I, and just telling the ref when there was a hand or not, or when someone faked and injury. Mistakes by the referee I am willign to accept. Players pusposely tryign to deveice the ref and gettign away with it, that is harder to take.

    July 13, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
  12. Sup Cho

    I have some comment about this topic ...

    If we'll use the technic to help for this matter .. What about the call
    that happen for the one before this call ? And should we use technic to help all the game and what about the referee . The ref should decide the call that he had made it. Let say for example .....

    The referee miss the 1st. call that should be penalty spot for the goal .

    Should we consider as the human error or just another part of the game for this human error . And if we could not trust for the referee . Why don't we just install the camera arount the field and let the referee sit on the side line and watching on the T.V. moniter instead of running on the field ....

    July 16, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
  13. ngimigee

    We need the talking points, just leave it as is but train the refs! Otherwise the game will be on joystick!

    July 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  14. Ruben

    Evolution it is the word, since the beginning, football (soccer) had it all, a new way of entertain our selves, sports wise talking. However, like many other activities that men has, technology plays nowadays a big role and, why this should be the exemption? I believe it was long over due the implementation of it in this sport.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:47 am | Reply
  15. Mark

    Should we consider as the human error or just another part of the game for this human error . I am sure they will work it out.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  16. ivanaa

    Just train the refs more? Game will soon be played on joystick? Ridiculous comments, clearly refs can't possibly see everything depending on the angle of play and etc. Yes goal-line will lead to tech questions in other areas but everything can be worked out for the better (fairness) of the game, it just requires effort! It's about time tech is implemented.

    July 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  17. marvin hannington

    blatter has tried bt FIFA will regret da stupid football they are going to bring to da world.

    August 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  18. LL

    Has anyone asked the one important question. How will goal line technology deal with the issue of "the whole of the ball crossing the whole of the line" as a certified referee and a defensive player (who has saved many aball from crossing the line) will the new technology sound off if the ball is on the line or only when the ball hits the back of the net. This issue must be resolved before technology implemented in international play

    August 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Reply
  19. Josh

    Tierry Henry robbing Ireland of a place in the world cup with a goal from a hand ball. Lampards ball that crossed the line in the cup and not being allowed. Maradona cheating his way into the record books even. Do the same as they do in NFL with flags to challenge a play, its simple and just in place to enable a fair and honest result. This sport is marred with cheaters and divers at the moment and it needs to be stamped out.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:07 am | Reply
  20. Josh

    Realistically, if you had GPS tracking device on the ball and each player, why would you need a line judge? A computer system would automatically tell you if a player was offside or not

    August 14, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
  21. ToJosh

    @Josh,

    GPS technology is not accurate enough to pick up offsides, line crossings and other decisions based on the position of player or ball in the field of play.

    Commercially available real-time GPS accuracy is roughly in the order of 1 metres (3-4 feet). Not good enough for goal line crossing detection.

    You will need military grade GPS signals to achieve this.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  22. RefRob

    As a referee, I support goal line technology. I might could be convinced to let a fifth referee watch the video (FIFA currently prohibits the use of any video technology). I don't like the thought of coaches challenging referees. Soccer is a much more fluid game than American Football, all the stops would break up our beautiful game. GPS technology is a no go for offsides, btw – referees' judge body parts (head, feet, and torso) relative location to the second to last defender for offsides.

    May 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Reply

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