Will Technology Be Embraced Without Further Change in football?

UEFA President Michel Platini and FIFA President Sepp BlatterWith the much anticipated news that FIFA have finally announced goal line technology will be introduced into football, fans, managers and players alike have been celebrating a new era for the sport. After years of yearning for more conclusive evidence to be made available to referees, there is now a system in place to remove any questions marks over whether the ball has crossed the line.

Despite this progress, there are still concerns that the new system will be the end of the professional game as we know it. Sepp Blatter v Michel Platini may not be a prize fight that fans would flock to witness but the two leaders of World and European football are at loggerheads over how intrusive the latest technology will be. I for one have always favoured the idea of technology playing a role but I could never see how it would be introduced without it spreading to every facet of the beautiful game. With this in mind I must admit to agreeing with the concerns raised by UEFA’s outspoken President.

While Blatter has responded to constant cries from the professional game to introduce such a system, Platini has remained steadfast in his concerns that it will be the beginning of the end for football as we know it. The Frenchman insists he’s against all form of technology, not simply on the goal line, and has been vocal in his concerns for the future of the sport as more and more incidents become scrutinised. A recent example of this was Ukraine’s disallowed goal against England at Euro 2012. The ball was over the line so a goal should have been given and yet replays showed there was an offside in the build up meaning in fact the goal shouldn’t have stood. While two wrongs by the linesman do not make a right, the correct decision was made but the manner with which it was reached is not a precedent for future refereeing. Platini believes extra officials are the key to increasing the success rate of decisions but in this instance both the linesman and his little helper behind the goal got it wrong. In all honesty, the involvement of the extra officials will be regarded as completely unnecessary until they are seen to actually make a decision but clearly however many eyes the authorities place around the ground, there will always be room for human error.

As much I dismiss Platini’s naivety when introducing 5th and 6th officials, I do understand his attempts to avoid technology for as long as possible because unfortunately there are still far too many loop holes to be found and controversy will inevitably follow. Had a goal line system been in place in Donetsk then Ukraine’s goal against England would’ve been given. The logic is officials must assume every decision they made in the build up was acceptable and ultimately the only debatable issue is whether the Ukrainian shot actually crossed the line. Well as we all know it did, so Ukraine are given a goal but England are left bemoaning technology once more, especially considering the ease with which spectators have seen the replays. Suddenly technology has given a goal that wasn’t and this will be heightened when a handball or a foul is also involved during the build up.

Blatter believes the bottom line is that goals are most important thing for officials to get right. If we start debating offside calls as well then we have to look at handballs, throw ins, fouls and every other decision made since the ball last went dead. It would be impossible to sift through minutes of footage to find the smallest inconsistencies so perhaps the technology is better suited to its finite role. Since fans currently suffer through plenty of controversial decisions, surely any improvements will be to the benefit of the game, however limiting the authorities are being at the moment.

If supporters accept that goal line technology is the only system to be introduced then there’s no reason why it cannot be embraced amidst the remaining contentious decisions that surround the game on a weekly basis. I may fear the potential repercussions but I appreciate there will be a number of teams who will benefit from system even if it doesn’t spread throughout the game. That said I still wait with trepidation for the day a player is rewarded for standing offside and handling the ball over the goal line.

Are you pleased to see goal line technology introduced? Do you think it will be the downfall of football as we know it?

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