Fifa will reconsider the use of goal-line technology for soccer games at its 21 July meeting, in Cardiff.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter, speaking at a press roundtable, said from the beginning of the 2010 World Cup the decision was taken by the International Football Association board not to implement goal-line technology.
However, after controversial refereeing decisions during England’s match against Germany and Argentina’s match against Mexico, talks have been raised about goal-line technology and its possible assistance in determining the legitimacy of goals. Due to this, Fifa has decided to reconsider relevant technological equipment for the future, said Blatter.
He added that it is too late to reverse the decision for this World Cup, as it is close to its end, but the matter will be reconsidered later this month.
“It is obvious that after the experiences so far at this World Cup it would be nonsense not to reopen the file on goal-line technology,” Blatter said.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck said goal-line technology would prevent unfair and damaging decisions, and also the delays in continuation of the game when players round on the referee to protest a decision.
“Ultimately, it would bring a greater sense of fairness to the game, and allow fans to accept results without having to point fingers at match officials for incompetence. Finally, it will be of huge benefit to the match officials themselves, since they are often unsighted in the melee that can occur around the goalmouth.
“If they cannot see the ball, how can they judge whether it has crossed the line or not in a ‘borderline’ incident? Yet, they do make such decisions in exactly such circumstances.”
“From the beginning, we said we’ll have traditional refereeing with one novelty,” said the Fifa president. He explained that this novelty was the introduction of a fourth referee, in addition to the one field referee and the two assistant referees.
“This fourth official does not have a monitor in front of him, but he watches the game like the other referees. There are 32 television cameras and they can recollect everything and the men who control the game have no cameras. They just have their eyes.”
Blatter added that Fifa has considered two different systems with regards to goal-line technology.
The first system considered is ball chipping technology, which determines if the ball has crossed the line at the goalmouth. Blatter said this type of technology is too complicated and, therefore, was not taken up by Fifa previously.
“It’s a very simple technology that would provide precise measurement of a ball’s path across the goal-line. The technology has been successfully trialled, but Fifa bosses are deeply resistant to anything that takes decision-making out of the hands of its appointed officials, said Goldstuck.
The other system considered was Hawk-Eye technology, which is used for tennis and cricket. This type of system has not given full accuracy for soccer, said Blatter. He explained that it’s a camera system and so can only show what the camera captures. He said there are instances on the goal line where the ball can’t be seen by the cameras.
“Therefore, the decision was to put goal-line technology on ice, but now we have to reopen the discussion.”
Editor of Project 2010 and former Fifa World Cup media officer Craig Urquhart said goal-line technology would be disastrous to the game of soccer.
Urquhart said Fifa has been looking at goal-line technology for a while, but these systems will take away from the game. He added that there are other options in trying to solve the problem of goals being allowed or disallowed incorrectly.
“I think it [goal-line technology] would be a complete disaster. It would go a long way in killing football as a sport. It’s one of the most fluid sports,” said Urquhart. He explained that the technology would interfere with this fluidity.
“It’s a terribly emotive sport and that’s because it’s based on a human factor, including human error.” He added that this human factor is one of the reasons people remember moments like Diego Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ goal in 1986. “It’s one of the things that make soccer so special.”
Urquhart suggested that new officials should be put in place to solve the problem of difficult calls. He said just placing two new line officials behind each goal post will help with a better observation of the goal-line and will end the problem without the need to implement any type of technology.
Goldstuck disagreed, as video replays are simple, obvious and quick, he said. “The resistance to it has nothing to do with the so-called ‘human factor’, as Fifa’s bosses would like to pretend, but rather with holding on to outdated thinking about refereeing.
“Far more time is lost in players disputing controversial decisions than would be taken by video reviews. As for the human factor, there is nothing less human than ignoring the evidence being witnessed by millions of (human) fans around the world, for the sake of allowing one human (the referee) to be the sole arbiter of controversial calls.”
He added that the “technology should not enter the game” argument is about as absurd an argument against such innovation as a belief that games should not be televised. “Football today, and especially the billions Fifa rakes in from the World Cup, is about nothing if not about technology, in particular television technology.”