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How Frank Lampard’s disallowed World Cup goal changed football forever

Sunday 10th June 2018

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was remarkable for many reasons. There were the usual surprises football sometimes brings as minnows beat giants, whereas dark horses emerge in a competition and blow everyone away. For starters, Spain won the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history, courtesy of an Andreas Iniesta wonder strike. The perennial underachievers finally took their place amongst the international football elite.

Eight years ago, the tournament also threw up the small matter of the World Cup coming to Africa for the first time; with South Africa making history. Oh, and who can forget the vuvuzelas? There was also the national embarrassment episode as France fell apart on and off the pitch. However, none of these iconic moments has had a more lasting impact on the game than Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany that was not awarded; despite the ball having crossed the goal line. The match officials did not see it. But the camera caught it. Replays showed it was clearly a goal.

The consequences of the goal not being given were far-reaching. England went on to lose the game 4-1 to Germany, eliminating the Three Lions from the tournament. But at the time of Lampard's 'goal', the scoreline was 2-1. If it were given, who knows what could've happened. Let’s say the goal led to English tails being up and they went on to win the game. The shape of their international history could look rather different.

So quite naturally, controversy followed. Since video replays showed it was a blatant goal, was there a need to incorporate video technology into the game to minimise human errors by match officials.

Football players, managers, fans and even referees all have divided opinions on the issue. Some support it. Others are against it. Let’s use technology to make the game better and fairer some argue. Keep football pure and free from the influence of technology others counter. It’s a recipe for controversy. The debate has been raging for almost a decade since. For every reason one side gives, the opposition fires back with two opposing views.

Further errors and costly mistakes by match officials have put fuel to the fire. Cases of mistaken identity in sending-offs, wrongfully awarded penalties and allowing or disallowing crucial goals have been a steady occurrence. With news of each incident making the rounds in the world media, supporters and opponents in regards to potential introduction of video technology raise their voices even higher.

However, in the midst of the noise, it always seemed like the use of technology had become inevitable. Gradually, football authorities have tried to ease it into the game. Starting from 2016, FIFA initiated its trial using it in the FIFA Club World Cup final in Japan. The then Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said the system was a source of confusion.

FIFA used it again at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. This time the criticisms became even louder. Many felt it created more problems than it solved. The Video Assistant Referee System was also used during the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. By so doing FIFA has demonstrated the desire to implement the system and incorporate it into world football despite the heavy pushback. This is understandable, given they're charged with the responsibility to make the sport fairer for all.

VAR has now been scheduled to be used in Russia. Given the enormity of the tournament, this will provide the biggest test for the system. Many top football hierarchies have also embraced its use, including the English Football Association. Although a few are still reluctant. It's also not used in the biggest club competition of all; the UEFA Champions League.

But whatever happens in Russia, it seems clear that there will be no going back from VAR. It's now used all over the globe, with its presence ever-growing. We all have to accept that technology in the game is here to stay. Whether we like it or not...

Emmanuel Odey

Emmanuel is a freelance football journalist who lives and breathes the round leather game. He is a contributor on several platforms. You can follow him on Twitter for more.

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