Football – The game of dinosaurs

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This Is Anfield’s Matt Ladson discusses the use of technology in football and why the governing body’s resistance to change has hindered the sport.

Hawk-EyeTENNIS, rugby, American football, cricket – all sports that have not only introduced technology but have seen their sport benefit from the introduction of technology.

It has made their sport fairer and more transparent.

I recently spoke to an American friend of mine and while discussing why the beautiful game struggles to reach the heights of the rest of the world in the USA, he explained that the lack of technology, he felt, was a huge reason why American’s ‘don’t get it’.

He cited the World Cup in 2010, England against Germany. Now, the World Cup had huge viewing figures in the US, much, much more than four years previous. He explained how he’d watched the game then felt that the result was somewhat pointless. It was another game that had been largely decided by an incorrect refereeing decision. Why would you spend two hours watching a game that is decided by one bad decision – when the whole world has seen that wrong call and knows their is a solution to having such calls dominate sport.

It struck a chord and got me thinking; If I hand’t grow up with football and were introduced to it, then watched a game that saw a blatant wrong decision decide the outcome of it, while knowing their is an alternative and a solution to that, not only would I be baffled but why would I ever continue to have interest in such a sport?

Every single sport that has introduced technology in some shape or form has benefitted from it. You do not hear of a sport introducing it, then deciding it hadn’t improved things and scrap it.

FIFA have had two primary reasons for not having brought in goal-line technology.

“It’s a game played by human beings, a game with a human face. There is a feeling it would hinder the flow of the game” – WFA secretary general David Collins.

They claim it would “hinder the flow of the game” – INCORRECT.

It would not. If anything, it would be faster than the current farce that sees players surround referees, referees not have a clear idea what call to make, consult their linesmen then make a decision they still aren’t 100% sure about! In respect to goal-line technology, it has been tested that a microchip on a ball, with the referee’s watch instantly receiving a signal once that crosses the line.

This is where FIFA have said in the past that the system is “only 95% accurate”. Well the current system is way, way below 95% accurate so that would be a bloody big improvement. Meanwhile, the creators of the technology claim the accuracy is much higher anyway – if not 100%. But FIFA will use whatever suits their agenda. Perhaps they’re waiting for a brown envelope from a goal-line tech company…

“Let it be as it is and let’s leave (soccer) with errors” – Sepp Blatter.

The other argument, from Blatter, has been that he wants to keep the sport the same at all levels. Obviously your local amateur team won’t be having goal-line technology any time soon (ever). Perhaps Blatter doesn’t quite understand that their is a natural difference in the words professional, amateur, recreational and grassroots – clue, in the latter of those three people’s livelihoods and financial income are not reliant upon the result of their games.

I didn’t see my local tennis club installing hawkeye when it was introduced at professional level – nor would anybody of sane mind expect it.

Football is run by men living in the 20th, make that 19th, century. They adopt a ‘we’re right because it’s so popular’ attitude. Rather than embracing advances in technology and looking to improve the sport, the decision makers would prefer to stick their head in the clouds with some romantic notion that we can use the same rules from 1800’s.

Goal-line technology is just one of a few very, very simple ways in which football could be improved. The other, most simple one, being the introduction of microphone headpieces on referees the same as in rugby. Not only would that mean the viewing audience could actually understand the decision, it would also help the so-called ‘respect’ campaign with those foul mouthed players soon being found out when in earshot of the referee – and the viewing millions.

Personally, I’d go as far as adding an appeals system too, similar to tennis, but doubt that will ever see light of day. For the record, my idea would see teams have only 2 appeals per half, and the appeal could only be made once the ball was dead. Eg, if a referee calls a penalty, the team the penalty is given against can then appeal. The time taken for an official in the stands watching replays, the same as rugby, would – again – be less than the current farcical situation.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” – Stephen Hawking.

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