On Thursday afternoon at a meeting in Zurich Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s General Secretary, revealed to the footballing world that the International Football Association Board had approved the use of goal-line technology within the beautiful game.
There was a total of 8 available votes – 4 from FIFA and 4 from the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Football Associations – and 6 votes in favour were required for the change to be made.
Valcke sat in between the four General Secretaries of each F.A in Britain – Northern Ireland’s Patrick Nelson, the Welsh FA’s Jonathan Ford, the Scottish board’s and England’s – as he calmly announced the groundbreaking decision. It was decided unanimously that both goal-line technology systems of HawkEye, developed in Britain and already used in tennis and cricket, and GoalRef, which was developed in Denmark and Germany, had passed the testing procedures and were ready to be used in football.
It was a decision that I’m sure most of the footballing world will agree has been long overdue, following a series of high profile mistakes by officials. The most memorable include at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, where Frank Lampard’s strike in Bloemfontein was so clearly over the line that people watching it live were already celebrating.
Before that there was also ‘that goal’ in the Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield in 2005 which knocked Chelsea, the better side over the two legs, out of the competition. A few months prior to that was the joke of a decision in the Premier League match between Manchester United and Spurs at Old Trafford, when Roy Carroll’s blushes were spared after he dropped Pedro Mendes’ shot from his own half over the line. That match finished goalless and would have been three well deserved points for Spurs – yet because of a lack of goal-line technology and poor calls from the officials they had to settle for a point.
Even on the smaller stages there have been controversial calls. For example, in the Championship referee Stuart Attwell awarded the ‘Phantom Goal’ at Vicarage Road between Watford and Reading in September 2008, when the ball was nowhere near crossing the line at any moment in the play leading up to the ‘goal’. The Watford keeper Scott Loach even put the ball down to take a goal kick.
These are all decisions that will soon no longer be a part of the beautiful game with the introduction of goal-line technology.
There is no debating that referees are human and have split seconds to make crucial decisions without the luxury of television replays like we have at home. I for one don’t believe that referees get enough credit for the fantastic work they do and the amount of hassle they have to put up with on a weekly basis, as we only seem to talk about them when they make errors.
However, as these split-second decisions can often be the solitary difference in big games this is why goal-line technology is a must for our beautiful game. Goals make games and they are what we all pay unbelievable amounts of money to watch, so I’m sure nearly every referee on the planet would agree with goal-line technology as it would save them from plenty of unnecessary abuse.
So when can we expect to see goal-line technology in place? FIFA has announced that the first international competition to use it will be the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan at the start of December. Chelsea will be the first English team to play in a game with goal-line technology, as they will be part of the tournament as current Champions League winners.
The Premier League won’t be far behind, as they have said that they will bring the newly approved technology in “as soon as practically possible” with the aim to have it in place by the start of the 2013/14 season.