Monday, June 28, 2010

Time for FIFA to embrace technology

It’s hard to imagine that the result of Germany’s and England’s round of 16 encounter would have been any different had Frank Lampard’s effort on goal been allowed to stand, as it rightfully should have been. But it certainly served as further vindication of why FIFA must embrace goal-line technology.

In spite of vehement opposition from several quarters, led by its President Sepp Blatter, FIFA has been dogged in its resistance towards the use of technology. Its basis for the rejection of technology has primarily been two fold. At the first level, Blatter argues that the rules need to be applied uniformly across the globe and since many matches, even at the highest level aren’t televised, it’s impossible to achieve the desired consistency. Secondly, Blatter contends that the introduction of technology to determine whether the ball has crossed the goal-line will lead to an inevitable clamour for technology to be used to resolve disputable calls in other areas of the game and as ultimately the decision needs to be made by a human mind, this may prove a self-defeating exercise.

The arguments, it must be said, are entirely fallacious. FIFA is without question affluent enough to provide the required technology to bodies around the world so as to ensure that any rules involving the use of technology are universally applied, a point that is accentuated by the fact that FIFA is set to generate a whopping $ 3.2 billion in revenue from the current World Cup cycle. Paul Hawkins, the Managing Director of Hawk-Eye, explains in an article in today’s Times that the issue of Hawk-Eye being too expensive does not arise as the experience of using the said technology in tennis shows. In tennis, the authorities make money by selling the sponsorship of Hawk-Eye for an amount in excess of what Hawk-Eye is paid to provide the service and therefore any financial concerns for applying the technology are comprehensively countered.

As far as the accuracy of Hawk-Eye is concerned, I must admit that I have my reservations, particularly in its application to LBW decisions in cricket. But the calculations required in determining whether a football has crossed the goal-line are far more straightforward and is therefore bound to be predominantly precise. Hawk-Eye is said to have been tested both by the Barclays Premier League and the International Football Association Board and has apparently proved accurate in all instances of testing. Further, as added by Hawkins, “goal-line decisions are the only decisions which are entirely definitive and the answer can be provided to the referee within 0.5 seconds of the incident happening”, which means that any concerns that the game will be slowed by the use of the technology are wholly offset.

There will undoubtedly be a call for introduction of technology at various levels of the game, as proved by the further embarrassment caused to FIFA when a blatantly offside Carlos Tevez opened the scoring in Argentina’s victory against Mexico. But the fact that technology can never definitively rule on such decisions, means that the introduction of goal-line technology is unlikely to open a Pandora’s Box, as feared by FIFA.

It is understood that as a consequence of the decision to disallow Lampard’s goal, two additional assistant referees, one behind each of the goals, as was seen in last season’s Europa League games, are likely to be introduced. Although it lacked a definitive moment, UEFA’s experiment last season proved laregly successful and it is fair to believe that the presence of such an official would have ensured that the correct decision would have been made yesterday. However, whilst such an introduction would be welcome, the fact that a ball often crosses the goal-line for only a fraction of a second, as elucidated by Hawkins means that the use of technology would be a more foolproof solution to the issue. But sadly, such an introduction is unlikely to be forthcoming so long as FIFA and Blatter fail to change their inanely derisive stance towards science.

1 comment:

Gautam said...

I felt sad for England when they were denied that controversial goal. It is really strange that even in today's age a competition of this level is not using the basic technology to resolve such disputes. Its been an eon since the Third Umpire was introduced in Cricket.