One of the most debated and famous goals in football history was Geoff Hurst's 3-2 goal against Germany in the 1966 World Cup final. Whether or not the ball was in back then was not, and will never, be clear. But a goal was given and England proceeded to win their one and only World Cup 4-2.
Today, there wasn't any doubt as Frank Lampard's shot hit the bar and went down half a meter inside the line.
Problem? The referee and his linesman didn't see it and robbed England for an equalizing goal to make the score 2-2. The goal was replayed on the big screen in front of the entire audience, players, and yes, the referee. Probably not the best call as the fans undoubtedly will be enraged. Bottom line though was that instead of having a draw after the first half, England was behind 2-1. Despite a good start to the second half with some decent opportunities, they never really recovered.
Germany, on the other hand, didn't fail to take advantage of the early Christmas gift from the referees and cemented their victory with goals to make the score 3-1 and 4-1 against a tame looking English team.
Germany was the dominating team for most of the match and certainly deserved the win. Nevertheless, their great match and win will be overshadowed by the goal that was there and yet wasn't. Simply because 2-2 is the definition of an open match and there is no telling how the match would have fared had England got its rightful goal.
Would England have been as tame as they were when Germany made it 3-1 and 4-1 had it instead been 3-2 and 4-2? Would Germany even have scored those goals? There is no way to know.
The 'non-goal' spurs debate of whether or not to introduce TV help during match play in order to correct some of the mistakes that referees invariably will and do make. Is that simply part of the charm? That coincidences and human mistakes do have an impact, not only from the players, but also from the referee? Or is there simply too much on the line to allow mistakes this big to happen?
Problem is, once you start, where do you end? Should pictures only help the referee to determine whether or not the ball was in? Should it help him to cancel or give a penalty? A free kick? A red card for a foul he didn't see? Retract a red card from a player he had just given it to?
My own opinion is that I can't see it happening without making soccer into a different game. But there may be ways to do it, where you limit the use and don't take away the flow of the game or the responsibility of the referee.
But there is also a flip side of that responsibility, namely the fanatic fans who issue death threats at referees when they make mistakes against their teams. Five years ago, Swedish referee Anders Frisk resigned after death threats against himself and his family from angry Chelsea fans after Chelsea lost the Champions League quarterfinal against Barcelona.
Let's hope the worst of the English fans don't repeat that behaviour and simply take an inward look. The non-goal did help Germany, but overall England simply lost to a better team, who outplayed them for most of the match.
They may also take the broad historic perspective and remember that they were aided by a goal that wasn't there in 1966. Or wasn't—we will most likely never know.
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