The introduction of goal-line technology took a step closer in October, with the International Football Association Board’s (IFBA) decision to allow companies to submit systems which would be able to confirm, within one second, whether or not a goal had been scored.
Any new technology would deal only with the goal-line, meaning it would not cover Thierry Henry-style handballs within the penalty box or elsewhere on the field of play. However, it seems that there is now support from most sections of the game for some kind of system to be introduced in an attempt to eliminate mistakes from officials where goal claims have been rightly or wrongly confirmed or denied.
The campaign for change gathered momentum in England during the World Cup following Frank Lampard’s strike against Germany, which was incorrectly ruled to have landed in the 6-yard box, after hitting the underside of the bar. Had the goal been awarded, the outcome of the match would have been very different – instead of being on the wrong end of a 4-1 hammering, England would have…been on the end of a 4-2 hammering.
Stoke City’s Jonathan Walters helped to ensure the issue remained in the public eye after he had a perfectly good goal ruled out against Spurs earlier this season.
The benefits of goal-line technology are obvious and it’s understandable that the clamour for its use has grown in recent years. Nobody wants to see a team denied victory, or even a trophy, because of human error and if a system can be introduced that provides a definitive answer within a single second, then all the better.
However, questions arise when considering the implementation of any new technology. Obviously, it will be used at the highest levels of the game e.g Champions League, World Cup and European club competitions, but how far will it filter down? In England for instance, will all four divisions be covered? What about the Blue Square Premier?
Individual associations or federations could be expected to foot the bill. This could lead to Spain, Italy and Germany having all the angles covered, while smaller nations in other parts of the world struggle. FIFA, UEFA and the other confederations would have to provide some form of assistance.
While finances, stadiums and the standard of player may differ greatly, on the field football has largely remained the same at all levels of the sport: two teams, two goals and one ball. Goal-line technology could change that with differences in how the game is officiated, depending on the location and competition of the match in question.
When the IFAB meet in March, they will examine how accurate each of the systems put forward has been. However, it is of equal importance that they decide how they will ensure that any new technology covers as many nations, teams and competitions as possible. A team playing in a mid-table Scottish Third Division game have as much right to expect accurate decision making as a side taking part in a Champions League final. There is already enough of a gap between the haves and the have not’s without anything else adding to it.