Additional Assistants vs. Goal-Line Technology: The Debate

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Additional Assistants vs. Goal-Line Technology: The Debate
The view from my seat vs Stoke in the Premier League on the left, and vs Juventus in the Champions League on the right

Since 2009, UEFA have been trialling the use of two additional officials behind the goals as an alternative to the increasingly louder calls for goal-line technology to be introduced into world football.

Whether they have had the desired impact is a bone of contention with many fans of the sport. The anti-technology camp argue that this is the best way to bring fair play to clubs at all levels, whilst the pro-camp doubt the efficiency of these extra human eyes, compared with what video technology could easily offer.

We must also consider the impact that these additional assistants have on the fans.

I sit in the front row of the Shed End at Stamford Bridge and I am lucky enough to be able to purchase my seat for cup games. I did exactly that for the opening Champions League group game against Juventus last Wednesday.

Imagine my horror when, after all the pre-match handshakes and pleasantries were done with, a man with a stick came and stood directly in front of my seat. He remained there for the whole game, occasionally darting off down the line to further restrict my view of any play in the box, or anywhere else on the pitch for that matter. It was extremely frustrating as I had been hoping to see 90 minutes of football, not a man's bottom and his itchy knee, which he used his stick to scratch.

I understand what UEFA are trying to do and I appreciate the enormity of the task at hand. They're trying to make football into a game where the right team always wins, something it has never been. The sense of injustice, of feeling "robbed", is all part of the experience of following a football club, and I challenge you to find a fan of any club who doesn't cite at least one incident of a wrongly disallowed goal or a missed penalty decision.

Should video technology be given the same trial as additional assistants?

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For even the most well established clubs, a run of bad calls by referees can be a matter of life and death, between survival at the highest level of the game and a dramatic slide into obscurity.

Obviously something needs to change, but is a man with a stick the right way to go about it?

They have had some positive impact during their trials, for example it was the additional assistant who spotted John Terry's knee to the back of Alexis Sanchez in the 2011/12 Champions League semifinal, leading to a straight red card for the Chelsea captain. However, in the Euro 2012 tournament it was the additional assistant who missed Marko Devic's equaliser for the Ukraine being "cleared" by the same John Terry, despite it having clearly crossed the line.

The inconsistency highlighted by these two incidents, coupled with the inconvenience to the fans of having a man with a stick obstructing their view of the game, led me to wonder why video technology is not being considered by UEFA as a viable option at the top level of competition.

A camera on either end of each goalpost, with the two at the top monitoring the box and the two at the bottom covering the goal line would surely make more sense. If each team were to be allowed three challenges per game, with the incidents in question beamed onto the big screen for all to see, and the final decision given to the referee, everyone would win.

Referees would be given a more reliable tool to justify their sometimes crucial decisions, leading to more respect for the match officials, and everyone would get to see fair play in action, instead of 90 minutes of a man’s bottom.

Video technology deserves the same trial as a man with a stick, doesn’t it?

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