The Round of 16 has produced three great matches so far, and one highly controversial moment. England v Germany was a fabulous match, end to end, and far more open than many might have expected, given the history of penalties between the sides. In the end, Germany won handsomely, and for good reason – they were excellent, and deserved the win and the margin of victory.
Sadly, however, the game will be debated for an amazing incident only moments after England had pulled the score back to 2-1. Virtually straight from the kick-off, a move down the England right resulted in a Frank Lampard shot which struck the bar, bounced down and then back out of the German goal. The picture below tells you all you need to know about the goal.
So clearly, England should have been level at 2-2. The linesman however ruled that the ball had not crossed the line and the score remained 2-1. In the second half, Germany were able to sit deep and counter-attack England, who had already been exposed defensively in the first half, and the result was a 4-1 win.
Let me first say that I don’t believe the decision affected the eventual outcome of the match. Granted, it would certainly have changed the tempo of the match, and a 2-2 scoreline at half-time would have made for a different strategy in the second half. However, Germany were deservedly 2-0 up, and it might have been three or four. A 2-2 scoreline would have flattered England massively – “papering over the cracks” is how John Barnes correctly described it. Germany’s failure to score more was however their fault, England’s was an official’s decision.
In the aftermath, some of England’s football pundits bemoaned the goal but acknowledged that they were outplayed by Germany. Others have blamed the defeat on the decision – this is nothing new. Here in SA, the ‘blame-game’ is a national past-time because we feel that our teams are never beaten by better sides either – it’s always someone else’s fault. Watching English news reactions to the game, it seems they are world-champions at this particular sport. Some of the football pundits are even blaming Germany’s goalkeeper for not giving them the goal, as if any keeper in the world would do this. This kind of stupid reporting does no one any favours. Even Fabio Capello stupidly claimed that five officials missed it – in reality, it was one, and he erred. As humans do…
Aside from the post-mortems, the relevant question in this affair is whether goal-line technology should be used. And this is not a new issue, but it might help you to learn what FIFA’s position is.
Technology and video review: FIFA’s position on science
In March this year, an organization called the IFAB (International Football Association Board) met to discuss goal-line technology. IFAB is made up of representatives from FIFA and the football associations of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Presentations were heard from two companies – Hawkeye and Cairos Technologies. Hawkeye you know – they do line calls for tennis and third-umpire decisions for cricket, while Cairos insert microchips into the ball to signal whether a goal is scored.
A vote was held, and the use of technology was defeated, 6-2. FIFA used their four votes to vote against it, with one vote each from Wales and Northern Ireland contributing to what FIFA announced after the meeting as the “end to the potential use of technology within football” (Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s General Secretary).
Quite how this body, with such peculiar voting power, rules on this matter, is difficult to say. IFAB was formed in 1886, 18 years before FIFA, and consisted of the four British associations who had two votes each. FIFA joined in 1913, and received a block of four votes with the original associations of British football retaining one vote each.
FIFA has since grown to more than 200 national federations, but the body controlling the laws still comprises a 50% block from the original British associations, and four from FIFA. Quite how FIFA decides to make use of its four votes is another question mark. But as it stands, almost 200 member federations have no direct say in the rules of the game (ironically, England are one of the nations who voted “For” in the May vote) – they are represented rather narrowly, and it would be interesting to see how a vote put to all federations would go.
It should also be noted that FIFA have decided to introduce goal-line officials who will be stationed in and around the penalty area. They would certainly have ruled correctly today, but their introduction is symptomatic of FIFA’s desire to ‘go-human’.
So why the resistance to technology?
About two weeks ago, Sepp Blatter was quoted as saying that the introduction of technology into football would detract from the fervour of the sport. He said “Then the science is coming in the game, no discussions, we don’t want that. We want to have these emotions, and then a little bit more than emotions, passion”. Sepp and FIFA want human error, and so human error they get!
Blatter has also cited other reasons including: the game’s universality, fans who love debating incidents, the cost and fear of extended use of technology, and interference with the flow of the game.
All of these are reasonable, but not insurmountable. Time is not an issue for goal-line decisions. Today, the replay of Lampard’s shot was shown within 20 seconds, much quicker than many celebrations take to complete.
Cost too can be offset through sponsorship – in tennis, Rolex have taken the challenge system on as a sponsorship, and it has worked very effectively as a means to heighten tension there. The same could happen for soccer (and let’s be honest, FIFA would find a sponsor and commercialize this to within an inch of its life).
Emotion & Passion: Is it beneficial if it’s negative?
The remaining resistance then comes from FIFA’s insistence that human error and debate drive passion and emotion. This is certainly supported by their attitude to the disgraceful play-acting and cheating where players are diving and getting other players sent off without any sanction after matches.
The question I would ask in response to this whether correct decisions would really kill the emotion? Right now, all I’m seeing are complaints and excuses, and sadly, it detracts from a brilliant game. If such negative emotions are what FIFA want, then fine, let’s keep making mistakes. But surely had the game gone 2-2, the second half would have been no less exciting.
England would have come out with positive intent, Germany would have resumed their approach, which up to that point had produced exciting, flowing football. The result may have been 3-2, it may have been 4-2, it may have gone to extra-time and penalties. But it most definitely would not have lacked emotion or passion. The only “passion” that has been added by today’s controversy is anger, and that can’t be good for the sport, surely? Or is this football’s equivalent of “There’s no such thing as bad publicity?” As always, your opinions welcome.
To me, it’s a no-brainer. Then again, I’m “science” and clearly, Sepp and FIFA don’t care much for science. They’d rather keep technology and expertise out of the game, so that “everyone watching from their couches can be an expert too”. I wonder if Blatter realises that implicit in his argument is the admission that he is a “non-expert” himself. What is the polar opposite of “expert”? If you are an England fan, you can write to FIFA and let them know…
Use of goal line technology in football is overdue, and can only lead to benefits.
It has been a question that has been rife and top of the agenda doing the rounds on football forums and also top of the agenda throughout the structure of the sport.Should there or should there not be further technology to enhance the Laws of the game? it is a question in which most top league clubs are asking in the wake of many incidents which have gone unnoticed which have cost different clubs points and alot of money.There are other questions which arise when thinking about the effects of these decisions and incidents such as what effect is this having on the reputation of referees and the relationship between player and referee but also the relationship between the wider public and community towards officials.
The reason i say that these decisions being made turns the public on the officials is because the fans have such a strong relation to their clubs their they cannot accept a decision which is deemed preposterous against their clubs, instead they see it as a controversy affecting the bond between fan and their club.The fans wont blame anyone else other than the referee at fault even if that referee had just reason to give a decision considering his position on the field and the parameters in which the decision was taken.This often erupts in foul mouth slurs and talk of cheating and that match officials are against their clubs.Now if you put this into the context of the position of the fan and especially the young fans who hear those foul-mouthed assaults it can create a wider issue in the footballing community at amateur level as young players from youth teams start to disrespect referees and a bore referees and their decisions due to the culture that has been handed to them from their role models and the relationship of their role models with the officials for example if a 11 yr old playing youth football constantly hears the effects of the strained relationship and lack of respect for referees such as insults and talk of controversy from his/her parents their friends,their leaders, and from watching footballers consistently having a lack of discipline for match officials then how can we expect any different behaviour from the 11 yr old on the field of play for his/her team? can we expect any different from a generation who has been plagued by their role models in the sport for so long? I don’t think that can be changed in a hurry but we can do things to slow down that process and help the referees regain a stronger relationship with the players and the wider football fan community in the sport.The way this can and should be done is through technology.
“We don’t want a repeat of last World Cup … I think I can convince the International Football Association Board board that we must go forward with technology.”, Blatter says he does not want to be at “a World Cup and witness another situation [like the Lampard one]. I would die.”
Sepp Blatter speaking (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/mar/02/sepp-blatter-ifab-goalline-technology
Football wouldn’t be the first sport to take away the big decisions from the on field referees in fact they would be among a long line of sports who have successfully adopted a technological approach to officiating with limited or no after effects or damage to the reputation of their respected sports.Tennis have the Net Cord Sensor which uses Vibrations which turn into Electrical energy which is called the Piezoelectrical Device and the Hawk Eye which uses four high-speed cameras to detect the map of the flight path of the ball to determine whether points should be given or not, the same system is used in Cricket and have been hugely successful.The most successful in my opinion is in Rugby.The Hawk eye has been inspirational with ensuring the sport stays honourable to the codification of the sport ensuring balanced and fair competition.
We can do it, the football world wants it and yet it is still being thwarted, that is unacceptable,” said Tijs Tummers, secretary of FIFPro’s technical committee.
The one thing these sports have in common is that the officiating sectors command the highest of respect from the sports coaches players and their wider sporting community , it is more accepted that their decision is final and whatever decision that may be must be the correct decision.By taking the hardest of the decisions out of the referees hands and looking at evidence can have an impact on the way people view referees and the way that we as a community share that relationship with officials in a culture in which Countering everything has become common place.If we look at events in football and certain situations for example , Barcelona FC , when they play the game and they start to struggle it is obvious to anyone watching the game that they start to try to sway referees decisions and bully the referee into the decisions he makes, how many times have you seen a referee with 10 Barcelona players shouting around him after somebody blew on one of their players and that player doing his latest drama routine ? they only disrespectfully behave like that because it is one man solely having the responsibility to make that huge and crucial decision and they have learned through cultural experience that putting one person under that pressure can benefit them, So why can’t we take those decisions away ? if it isn’t then down to one person and the “buck” is passed to a team of officiators watching evidence surely that sort of behaviour can be nullified. A referee could then book any player that is deemed to abuse him/her and show that there is consequences for appalling behaviour on the field and maybe just maybe we will start to get back to a level where more respect is shown throughout the hierarchy of football from the young amateur Sunday league players right up to the top of the game. An obvious thought is that of course the amateur game can’t benefit from technology directly as the referee at that level will always be the law-maker but with a changing culture at the top of respect this could see a domino effect throughout the leagues and through the youth of the community and get rid of this Counter Attack philosophy where every official decision can be challenged and maybe just maybe viewed as beyond reproach.
“There is not a single convincing argument against the use of goal-line technology. With offside incidents, it is slightly more complicated, but the Argentinian goal which was allowed to stand shows the failure of the system even better.Referee Roberto Rosetti had a long consultation with the assistant referee, who was in contact with the fourth official via a microphone.He would undoubtedly have heard that Tevez was offside, the whole stadium had already seen it by then via images on the scoreboard.Yet, because the referee was not allowed to rely on video images, he had to award the goal which he knew should have been disallowed.You could see the doubt in his eyes. Technology does not undermine the authority of referees, it only helps them”
FifPro technical committee statement after a decision to allow a goal which was clearly offside in the 2010 World Cup, http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/8766423.stm
There should be clear outlines as to how much of the game should be handed to Hawk eye and how much time can be devoted to officials in an evidence viewing room. Not every decision should go to evidence only the major decisions such as Goal Line Technology,This has been an Achilles heel for a long time going back to the England Vs West Germany final of 66, to Roy Carroll’s fumble for Manchester United vs Tottenham in which a goal for Tottenham should have been given and on to modern times such as the 2010 South Africa World Cup where Frank Lampard’s shot which clearly went over the line by a good 2 ft wasn’t given at a time where England could have gone in at half time level at 2-2 and the game mentality changes unfortunately that wasn’t to be.The other main decision should be horror tackles and tackles in which the referee may have to give a red card. The reason for this is because it is of such importance to keep 11 men on a field in a sport that generates so much money every decision could be harmful or beneficial so getting that right decision is crucial as there are questions to be answered on the field at times ones which will need clearing up for example what if a player dives and gets a player sent off at a crucial stage of the game ? should the referee send the player off? what did the referee see? how far away was he ? should he make a panicked decision with 10 players around him shouting at him ? or should he blow his whistle and signal a square with his hands and ask a panel of expert official’s watching the evidence to make the right and fair call?.
One argument against which I have heard is the time which will be taken to do so and that it would add too much time to a game and eventually slow the football match down too much. Why ? why would it slow it down too much if you look at the decisions it should only be brought in for the majority of the time the players are arguing their case to a pressurised referee which delays his decisions as he has to take time to restore order and in rugby its estimated to add an extra 30 seconds per decision made so what would be the difference in the time taken?. If you put that into context of the whole game a fan may be in his seat for an extra 5 minutes a game if that game is a heated occasion needing many major decisions, is that really so long ?.There is also the option of each manager having three chances in a game to challenge a decision for example a player running through on goal and scores but the linesman puts his flag up late disallowing the goal , the manager of that team could then challenge the decision and if the video referees see it to be onside the goal would stand.
“The sub-plot is that referees want players, managers and club officials sanctioned much more toughly ”
SPFA chief executive (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_prem/9230434.stm
This decision is one in the making and I believe one day these laws will all be involved in the game as the game looks to withhold its standing and credibility in the world market where decisions have to be accurate and fair.Football has such a responsibility financial wise as businesses that at times they cannot afford to have decisions go against them which shouldn’t have such as the famous “Goal that never was” for Neil Warnocks Crystal Palace, who scored in the corner of the goal only for the ball to canon back off of the inner posts, the referee gave a goal kick to Bristol City.I believe that the days of poor decisions like this are nearing an end and that technology does have a future part to play in Football and we should welcome it and not be threatened by it and hopefully we shall see a rise in respect for referees and officials because remember this, We wouldn’t have the beautiful game if it wasn’t for our loyal referees! and let’s be honest none of us want to see a recurrence of what happened in Scotland in 2010 where referees went on strike
“We have created a space for people to say referees should be treated differently,”said John McKendrick".(http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_prem/9230434.stm)