Why football’s technology-free days are numbered

We will never know whether Lampard’s goal might have inspired England to better things in the second half. Germans will counter that we’ll never know about Wembley 1966 either – in each case, of course, the match would have continued at 2-2. But Jeremy Robson has no doubt that such a spectacular error, compounded by the offisde Argentinian goal later, will finally force football to accept the inevitable …

Regardless of what Fifa might have been saying about the use of video technology, it’s a safe bet that there will soon be goal line cameras used to make crucial decisions.

Until now, there have been a host of reasons put forward to halt the use of technology in aiding assistants. The occasional decision in the odd game has never previously considered as providing sufficient weight to the argument for installing the nevessary equipment.

There must have been more examples of calamitous decision making in this World Cup, not only in comparison to previous tournaments but compared to the previous three put together.

These howlers are always attributed to “human error”, a catch all description which is used conveniently as an umbrella term to describe failings in perception, judgement, low confidence in their witness of their own eyes and in the worst case, good old fashioned bias and cheating.

It’s almost as if the officials cocked up deliberately to illustrate this point the two cases in the England v Germany game and in Argentina v Mexico couldn’t provide better examples.

In the case of Lampard’s goal that never was, the official to the right hand touchline was a considerable distance from the goal line.

The ball travelled very fast and common sense should tell the linesman that the ball hitting the bar, bouncing down to the ground and back up to hit the bar again, must have crossed the line as it landed back in the keeper’s arms. Despite the fact that it was a clear goal, the linesman’s nerve let him down.
The referee was clueless, despite the fact that the crowd’s response confirmed that it crossed the line. In other words, the official bottled it.

The decision was simplified by the ball ending up in the goalkeeper’s gloves: no goal. It’s easy for the linesman to excuse himself by saying he didn’t see it.

The offside goal for Argentina is the exact opposite. The linesman missed the fact that Tevez was about three yards offside in the melee that ensued following the initial challenge on the keeper.

This was a goal because the ball ended up in the back of the net. The reality is that a great number of officials lack the perceptual skills to make sense of what they are seeing in front of them.

Human decision making is fraught with weakness. We tend to rely on the most recent events when trying to mentally reconstruct incidents that we have just seen.

Remarkable isn’t it that the incidents all too often work to the advantage of the favourites.

This is reinforced, of course, by comments that people make subsequently along the lines of “it not making a difference in the end” or “it didn’t change the result”. But of course these decisions have an impact on the result.

The sheer number of refereeing blunders in this tournament has reached the point where goal line technology will become a feature of some major tournament very soon, and certainly by the next World Cup. Unfortunately, the technology will not prevent incompetent officials doling out cards like lollipops at a five year old’s birthday party. That’s just as big an issue as far as this World Cup has shown.

10 thoughts on “Why football’s technology-free days are numbered”

  1. They don’t need one Bill. Blatter’s got the mother of all brooms i his pocket. It’s an absolute disgrace. FIFA seems to be completely above the law.

  2. http://g.ca.sports.yahoo.com/soccer/world-cup/blog/dirty-tackle/post/FIFA-ignoring-mistakes-writing-sickeningly-glos?urn=sow,251904#remaining-content

    From the AP:

    FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said Monday that replaying the incident was “a clear mistake.”

    “This will be corrected and we will have a closer look into that,” Maingot told a news conference Monday. “We will work on this and be a bit more, I would say, tight on this for the games to be played.”

    Maingot said the screens were used to broadcast a FIFA “infotainment program” to fans before the match and could be used to replay some match action.

    So, the cock ups by officials are not the problem apparently, but replaying incidents so that the crowd can see is a mistake.

  3. Bill’s right. There was more time lost due to the players arguing with officials.

    The thing that annoys me is that the officials are all wired to up so that they can communicate. Why can’t someone be sat in stands who can help advise the linesman on issues such as goal line incidents and offsides.

    The fact that the linesman was inside the edge of the penalty area gave him every opportunity to see it. The ball was well behind the keeper so his view shouldn’t have been obstructed. A sign of moral weakness and not judgement in my opinion.

  4. FAIRLY continuous. In the time that was lost yesterday as players fought with the officials, a video review could have been done 10 times over and the question settled.
    I’d argue, too, that American football is no relation whatsoever to soccer. It’s certainly not as close as cousin.
    Life may not be easy but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve it.

  5. One of the best things about football, as opposed to it’s US cousin, is that it is fairly continuous. Any video intervention is only going to make it slower. Yes, some bad decisions may be made, life isn’t easy, get over it.

  6. Human error is very often no more than a euphemism for incompetence. We knew going in that the ref in the England-Germany game had that kind of reputation.
    There was talk yesterday of adding an extra official (or, presumably, two; one at either end of the field) specifically to monitor the goals. I can see that happening as a compromise solution rather the obvious solution, which is video replay. Adding more personnel may improve things somewhat. On the other hand, it just widens the opportunity for “human error.”

  7. Can’t say that I share your confidence in a change coming, Jeremy. Not while the corrupt Blatter remains in charge. He has to go but won’t. There is no real challenge to his grip on the world game. Maybe Platini? It is all so depressing that our game is ruled by these FIFA numpties.

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