Right Field

Finally, Goal-Line Technology in Soccer

England’s Premier League may finally introduce goal-line technology, according to its chief executive Richard Scudamore, for the 2012-13 season. This technology has long been called for in soccer, especially following England midfielder Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in last year’s World Cup — a goal that, if allowed, would certainly have affected the rest of the match.

Ever since that incident, FIFA has dragged its feet in considering goal-line technology, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter a constant opponent. Time and again they have said they would discuss the matter in FIFA meetings, only to postpone it. In place of such technology, UEFA, the European soccer body, with FIFA’s blessing, introduced an extra assistant referee standing near each goalpost to better adjudicate goals (among other things, such as fouls in the penalty area).

Sepp Blatter’s arguments against goal-line technology have some validity: He is concerned about managers who may want to dispute every action that occurs in the penalty area — whether a goal has been scored or not — and interrupting the flow of the game to force replays. He also defends the referee’s role as final arbiter of what happens on the field. Soccer is a human game, Blatter contends, and must remain so. Soccer is a human game, and thus prone to all the faults that flesh is heir to. But contested goals can determine not only the outcome of an individual match, but a team’s entire season.

Other sports, such as tennis and cricket, use Hawk-Eye, a computer system that tracks the ball’s trajectory. Of course, the system has its critics and, like any technology, is not perfect. But it can help settle certain disputes — like Lampard’s disallowed goal, which everyone knows should have been a goal.

Whatever technology is introduced, it should be used in such a way to maintain the pace of play, which is an important factor in soccer. Only the fifth official sitting at the sideline should be allowed to review the event — which should take only a few seconds — allowing no intervention from either team’s manager. Soccer will still have its faults, but soccer fans want to see such vital matters as goals settled without dispute. 


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