A more precise game isn’t more beautiful. Mistakes keep the sport exciting, be they in a pub match or a World Cup final.

Opposing goal-line technology appears, on the face of it, to be a fool’s errand. Who doesn’t want referees to make the right decisions? Which English football supporter, remembering Frank Lampard’s wrongly disallowed goal against Germany in the last World Cup, wouldn’t dream that maybe the national team might have avoided ignominious defeat had that goal been allowed?

Football fans, however, should be careful what they wish for. The drive to GLT is not the result of a desire for fairness and accuracy. Instead the words its proponents routinely invoke when demanding its introduction are: “With so much at stake …” By which they mean, with the rewards for success and the costs of failure at top-level football so immense, human error is unacceptable.

Why so? The beauty of football is that every officially sanctioned game is the same. The pitch must be of a size conforming to the strictures of the laws of the game; the goals are the same size regardless of the teams; the officials apply the same laws, whether it’s a World Cup final or a Sunday league game between two pub teams. GLT will destroy this thread of consistency running through the game: economics dictates that cameras (and officials to study their pictures) will become too expensive only a little way down football’s pyramid. The park players on a weekend morning will be playing a different game to the professionals in the afternoon. Indeed, most of the professionals will be playing a different game to the elite few at the very top level, which is where GLT will likely find its home. And once GLT is in place, the demands will begin for further technological aids – to decide offsides, penalties and so on.

The only logical way for the referee to maintain his authority and work with technology is for technology to be applied to every element of the game. Then he can be tucked up in an office somewhere in the stadium with a load of blinking screens analysing every blade of grass, every tugged shirt and every sleight of hand. With all this information available to him, he’ll be top dog, free to interpret every subtle nuance in line with the Laws of the Game. He’d need an assistant on the pitch to actually enact his decisions, and there’d be lots of pauses to double-check possible offsides, bad tackles, handballs etc.; but so be it.

For me, and for many other fans, one of the beauties of football is its imperfection. Your favourite player might be capable of beating six opponents then calmly sidefooting the ball wide of the target. Your goalkeeper might make a wonder save then inexplicably throw the ball to the other side’s centre-forward. And it is the very same with referees and their assistants: most of the game they get everything right, but then – to the bafflement and anger of 30,000 people – they’ll make a decision so wrong it beggars belief. And you know what? I’m fine with that. It is a reminder that we are all but human, and our lives are littered with errors.

The imperfect, in fact, is celebrated above all else in football. Players and managers cut deep with flaws are celebrated above the metronomes who do their job without incident. That’s why we still talk about Diego Maradona and Eric Cantona or Pele. It’s why one of the best-known TV clips, from the 1970 World Cup, shows Pelé missing a goal, not scoring. It’s why people watch compilations of terrible mistakes.

More to the point, though, disputes make football more exciting. Where commentators view an on-pitch fight and pompously declare “No one wants to see scenes like that”, fans see the same thing and bellow their approval. Equally, everyone who’s ever crowded into a stadium knows the up-swell of anger and adrenalin that follows a horrible call by the referee. They know the way the atmosphere picks up, the way voices rise, the way the fans exhort the team on to greater heights to compensate for the perfidy of officialdom – until 20,000 people are singing “You don’t know what you’re doing” at the referee. Those moments, when passion becomes uncontainable, are exactly what makes football great. Why on earth would anyone want to take them away from the game?

What do you think?

Sign in with Facebook and be
entered for a chance to
Win a pair of Puma evoPOWER football boots

Terms and Conditions

Why?

  • Sign up in 2 seconds
  • Use your FB profile image
  • No need to remember a password
  • See which of your friends would like this

Note: We don't post to your wall

Login

Comment without logging in

You will need to fill this out each time to comment so why not quickly login with Facebook!

*

What do you think?

Sign in with Facebook and be
entered for a chance to
Win a pair of Puma evoPOWER football boots

Terms and Conditions

Why login with Facebook?

  • Sign up in 2 seconds
  • Use your FB profile image
  • No need to remember a password
  • See which of your friends would like this

Note: We don't post to your wall


  • Charlie M
    2 years ago

    You are totally misguided. The pro game and the park game have been poles apart for years. How many park games have lines people – lucky if there’s a ref.

    Reply
  • Indyfan
    2 years ago

    You CANNOT be serious. I’d like to see each side allowed a couple of challenges, decided by video replays, for any decision- goal line, offside, you name it. Just about all other sports use video technology; its absence in football means time and again fans go home furious at wrong decisions. Fans deserve a fair result.

    Reply
  • Ian
    2 years ago

    The more technology the better as far as I’m concerned. It would prevent bad decisions by referees which would also then stop this feeling that referees are biased. I don’t mind my team losing to a better team but not to a bad referee!

    Reply
  • JDLFC
    2 years ago

    Absolutely the worst article I have ever read. I’m sorry, but I doubt anyone finds mistakes exciting, get real. People find goals exciting, people find winning a game they deserved to win exciting. You could apply this ridiculous line of thought to all the sports that DO use technology such as cricket, rugby league, american football. They don’t have all the cameras at the lower levels in schools and colleges but surely nobody can seriously argue that the fact they do use technology at the highest level, somehow is of detriment to kids playing in parks, schools, etc. At the end of the day, when it comes to the professional game, I want the team that deserved to win, to actually win. Not the team who is the luckiest and how anybody can encourage unfairness is beyond me.

    Reply
  • Matty
    2 years ago

    You are deluded!! Imagine if a court of law acted in that way……’Mugger robs old Granny – but judge lets him walk – because he couldn’t be arsed to look at the evidence’ (Hold on – didn’t that happen at Hillsborough!!). This article reeks of a little Englander, who probably voted Tory at the last election – Just stick to reading the Sun mate!

    Reply
  • James McManus
    2 years ago

    Understand that I’m in the minority here, but I happen to be against goal-line technology. How many decisions per season are really affected by this? Is the real problem not with the standard of officiating?

    Human error is part of sport, it’s what makes it so emotional. If you really get so upset that you can’t function without venting your anger at a goal your team should have had a few weeks ago that crossed the line but wasn’t given, then perhaps you’re just wound far too tightly.

    I don’t find that poor decisions make the game any more exciting and completely get why some people love the idea of goal-line tech, but this whole ‘challenge’ idea moves it far too close to the dull affairs of American sport for my liking and cricket has shown that the implementation of that rule is fraught with difficulties.

    Reply
    • TJ
      2 years ago

      Remember that sport is a business, the rest come afterwards. Financial implications of errors, simulations or diving, and other forms of cheating should not be tolerated.
      the problem is not about the standard of officiating because you said human error is part of sport (I wonder which sport) because FIFA never said officials must error. Infact the opposite is true.

      Reply
  • Mat57
    2 years ago

    What a load of crap. U surely must be united fan and scare the GLT will avoid your team from winning anything. United is a team with highest number of good fortune going in their way.

    Reply
  • Will Taylor
    2 years ago

    I am all for goal-line technology but I do share the concern that it could snowball out of control and leave us with breaks in play every 5 seconds.

    Goal-line technology deals solely with fact, it’s either a yes or no unlike the rest of the referee’s decisions. Implement the technology but leave the likes of penalty decisions and intentional handballs down to the official’s discretion. That way we can still have the imperfection of human opinion without the cruel injustice of the disallowed goal. The best of both worlds.

    Reply
  • philie
    2 years ago

    My worry also,is how far will it go?what happens the first time a “Goal” is given by Technology but TV also shows the player in an offside position,or a foul commited beforehand?Should it have been a “Goal” or not??Football is still the most popular sport in the world without it and always will be.We dont need time outs and referees playing charades!

    Reply