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Goalline technology finally gets the green light

FIFA finally gave into the inevitable yesterday and gave the green light to allow goalline technology into all forms of top professional football.

The Premier League has already announced their plans to incorporate the two systems given approval at a meeting in Zurich involving the International Football Association Board.

GoalRef and Hawk Eye are the names of the two formats approved, with the Premier League indicating that it will start using the systems during the 2012-13 campaign.

It will end the debate for this form of technology to arrive into the game but why has it taken football so long to embrace the new modern concepts available today?

What are Hawk Eye and GoalRef?

Hawk Eye’s system works by using cameras in each goal which will be able to track the movement of the football.

A software programme in the system then uses something called ‘triangulation’, which can detect the exact location of the ball.

If the ball crosses the line, the referee will receive a signal in his wristwatch to indicate a goal has been scored.

FIFA have passed the test on the main basis that it takes less than a second to complete.

Hawk Eye is already installed at Wembley and was trialled during the recent international friendly between England and Belgium last month.

GoalRef, which has been used in minor international competitions at Under-19 level, uses a microchip implanted inside the football.

The system will detect change in the magnetic field on or behind the goal-line to determine if a goal has been scored.

Like Hawk-Eye, the referee will get an electronic signal to confirm a goal has been scored and the process passed the stringent test of taking no more than one second.

Success in other sports

FIFA president Sepp Blatter called the decision yesterday a momentous day for football. It might be so. But it has taken football more than a decade to use these kinds of formats and other sports have had it used for the better.

Rugby League was one of the pioneers, with the introduction of the video referee for the first Super League season in 1996.

It was an instant hit and has often been used for confirmation purposes in recent times. A second opinion has helped the main referee in tight situations and, thanks to Super League’s close tie-in with Sky Sports, it allows commentators Eddie Hemmings and Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson the chance to see exactly what the video referee is watching.

Cricket has used technologies such as the third umpire and more recently, the controversial referral ruling.

Again, this stops the game for a short period so another official can look at the most recent incident and other closer angles to get the decision right.

Tennis has introduced its own Hawk Eye system, which is currently in use during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. This gives players three challenges in each set if they think the line judge or umpire has made a dodgy call.

Some players have got frustrated that the ruling is there and can interrupt the rhythm of a match, but it is there for a reason and there are more positives than negatives.

Lastly, Formula One has used extensive extra camera angles in race steward meetings to review controversial incidents from as many microscopic views as possible.

Together with car data information, this can help make a final decision, although sometimes the penalties in this sport don’t quite fit the crime.

Dodgy decisions

There have been plenty of dreadful decisions in recent seasons at World Cup, European Championship and Premier League matches.

The most obvious moment where goal-line technology was badly needed came at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Trailing 2-1 to Germany in a World Cup second round match, England were denied a goal when Frank Lampard’s shot hit the bar and bounced over the line by a country mile.

Everyone in Bloemfontein and around the world could see it, except the referee, and play went on. Before this tournament FIFA had vowed to not use technology, so it must have left Blatter feeling rather red faced.

Similarly, England got fortunate at Euro 2012 recently, when John Terry cleared a Marko Devic shot from behind the goalline against Ukraine. It wasn’t given, despite the use of an extra official behind the goal.

Jose Mourinho still has gripes about the ‘ghost goal’ that cost Chelsea a place in the Champions League final in 2005.

A Slovak linesman adjudged Luis Garcia’s blocked shot in the semi-final second leg at Anfield had crossed the line, despite the best attempts of William Gallas. Replays later concluded that Gallas had cleared the ball away in time.

Bolton had moments of good and bad fortune too. QPR were denied a certain goal in March during a Premier League fixture against the Trotters, when Clint Hill’s header from a set piece was over the line but again, not given.

Lastly, in a Premier League game between Bolton and Everton in September 1997, Wanderers centre back Gerry Taggart smashed a header off the crossbar and it bounced over the line before it could be cleared by Toffees defender Terry Phelan.

The game ended 0-0 and had dire consequences for Colin Todd’s team, as they were relegated at the end of the season. Everton stayed up at their expense by a single point.

UEFA still not interested

Not everyone is convinced that the right decision was made yesterday.

UEFA president Michel Platini has previously said that if technology arrived in football, we would enter a world of ‘PlayStation football.’

I’m afraid Platini has made some serious errors of judgement in his time as head of European’s main governing body. One of those was the introduction of extra officials behind the goal.

This experiment first took place in the 2009-10 Europa League, to no major benefit.

Platini still decided this format should be used in the following season’s Champions League competition. He persisted with it in Euro 2012 too.

On too many occasions last month in Poland and Ukraine, there were discussions about the point of these extra officials as they don’t seem to do much apart from occasionally raise a flag.

If Platini will continue to use the extra official over technology, I’m afraid the credibility of UEFA’s football competitions is going to be severely tarnished. Sadly, while he is in charge, I don’t see UEFA showing any sign of interest.

It is up to certain governing bodies whether they should use goal-line technology, but it should be made mandatory in key competitions such as the Champions League and international tournaments.

If there is another dodgy decision in a major continental match that changes the outcome of that game, then Platini will have some uncomfortable questioning to deal with.

Stick to just the goal-line

The game of football has needed a form of technology for many years now.

The danger is if it gets extended into other forms, such as penalty decisions and offside calls, it could become too much.

The game needs the manual approach from the referee and if it starts getting obsessed with modern formats, then there is a danger of football becoming far too robotic.

The move for goal-line technology has finally arrived and it is a relief to hear organisations such as the Premier League show significant interest in incorporating it.

I hope though that the debate stops and this is where modern technology’s involvement in the modern game concludes.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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