One of the reasons it took so long to get to this point—where FIFA has finally approved the implementations of Hawk-Eye and GoalControl systems in football—is that the sport’s major, governing bodies, including UEFA, have historically viewed goal-line technology as the start of a slide down the slippery slope to video replay.
Michel Platini, the UEFA president, admitted as much in a December 2011 interview with L’Equipe, where he stated his preference for “human eyes” over goal-line technology.
He added, “I like the five officials because it is a human system...What scares me is if we implement technology that isn’t used much, will we end up going to offside-line technology?”
One can only hope. But we’ll get to that shortly.
Last week, at a meeting of its 20 chairmen, the English Premier League voted to bring in the Hawk-Eye system already used in tennis and cricket.
The decision was generally well-received, and in making the announcement Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore hit the nail on the head when he remarked, “If there is some technology available to help the officials get it right, then it is right we should be doing it.” (BBC)
Spot on. Because here’s where it gets very, very serious.
Football fans, by virtue of television replays, social media and up-to-the-second GIF images and the like, have been using technology with their football for years. Many of them grew up playing video games—where goals are always awarded correctly and offsides are never given carelessly—and using DVR platforms, which allow them to rewind live broadcasts and double-check decisions on their own.
In other words, the sort of fans world football so desperately needs in order to keep the sport afloat and flush with cash have been using technology for years already. The governing bodies are only starting to catch up, and they’ll have to go even further if they hope to keep those fans satisfied in the future.
That means video replay, and while there will obviously have to be a line drawn between what can and cannot be referred to the technology, the offside rule is a no-brainer.
Because if the average fan suddenly feels as if he or she is better positioned than the match officials to make a correct decision, then the sport is on a slippery slope to something else—disrepute.
There simply cannot be a disconnect between information fans can already so easily attain and that which the match officials provide them with. And if there is, those fans will stop taking football seriously, thus taking their interest—and money—elsewhere.
Goal-line technology is an excellent start to the process, but it’s still only the start. Comprehensive video replay is on its way, and the result will be a more credible product for everyone to enjoy.