FA Cup semi-finals: Goalline technology calls growing
Whilst sitting (and standing) amongst the Spurs fans at a buoyant Wembley on Sunday evening, I couldn't quite believe what I was witnessing.
But it wasn't just me, or the rest of the Tottenham supporters at Wembley - the millions watching on TV were thinking the same.
The world witnessed possibly the clearest example as to why goalline technology is needed in a game where this modern establishment is being held back by out of date rules and underwhelming support in terms of officiating.
Despite the fact that Tottenham were outplayed for vast periods of their FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea, there is no doubt that the ‘ghost goal’ which gave Chelsea a two-goal advantage drastically altered the course of the game.
As a Tottenham fan, it has become almost second nature to expect these decisions to go against us, from the Pedro Mendes goal at Old Trafford in stoppage time, the Gomes gaffe at Stamford Bridge last season, and now the Juan Mata ‘goal’ at Wembley.
Superb goals, but...
It is hard to deny Chelsea anything other than the result; Drogba, Ramires and Lampard chipped in with superb goals. However, the two goal advantage left Spurs increasingly susceptible to Chelsea counter attacks, which may not have been the case had the goal not been given.
Supporting Spurs leaves me stating ‘if and buts’ more than many other supporters, but it was eventually a result that reflected the poor run of form the team are hitting at an extremely vital point of the season.
But rather than feeling hard done by, the pressing issue is the need for goal-line technology, which has been needed for years in order to improve the sport.
Radio phone-ins are not inundated with rugby, cricket or tennis fans berating officials for their decisions, they discuss the more important matters of their sports, safe in the knowledge that thanks to video technology, the big decisions are right.
Sepp Blatter has a lot to answer for, with apparent efforts to install video technology getting ‘closer’; this has been the case for nearly a decade and I won’t be holding my breath for its impending implementation.
'Talking points' - But football is not a pantomime
Blatter insists that refereeing decisions provide “talking points for the public after the games”; football is not a pantomime and it does not need a villain, I would rather wait for several minutes as a fan to see the right decision rather than leave a match as I did at Wembley last weekend.
The sooner technology is enforced into the game the better; referees cannot rely solely on instinct for decisions which could cost a club a cup, a title, or even safety from relegation (as I am sure Wigan fans may understand come the end of the season).
The use of fifth officials has seemingly been a waste of time, with referees seldom consulting their assistants in order to aid their decisions in big games.
Martin Atkinson gave a goal at the weekend, the linesman did not see it, and with this lack of assurance, changed a game which promised to be more of a contest prior to the incident.
I don’t want this to sound like a Spurs fan down on his lack ranting and raving until I get my way; Tottenham were outplayed and credit to Chelsea they were the better side, but they did not give the goal.
Officiating needs to be aided by technology in order to ensure that these big decisions are right.
And the sooner FIFA, UEFA and the FA take action, the sooner referees will stop taking the flack as they do and will get the respect they need in order to allow this great game to be about football, and not the man with the whistle.
By James Barton
FA CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Both games at Wembley Stadium
Saturday 14th April (kick-off 12:30)
Liverpool 2-1 Everton
Sunday 15th April (kick-off 18:00)
Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea
The FA Cup final will be played at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 5th May