The beautiful game is normally one to resist change.
‘Soccer purists’ had long argued against some of the most recent adaptations to the laws of the game such as the modification to the offside rule and goalkeeper pass-back rules, which FIFA eventually introduced in an attempt to make soccer more appealing to fans.
Whether these adaptations have achieved their objectives is a subject very much open for debate.
On Thursday, English Premier League soccer officials made a bold decision and break from tradition with their approval of goal-line technology for next season in the Premier League.
While top-flight leagues in Germany, Spain and Italy will not be moving forward with GLT right away, the EPL will be the first professional league in the world to adopt the new method for resolving goal-line disputes.
The Sony-owned Hawk-Eye system has been given the green light by the EPL officials. Its makers say the system will send a signal to the referee, the instant a ball crosses the goal-line.
“Hawk-Eye stood out for their excellent track record in delivering for sport for many years,” EPL chief executive Richard Scudamore said. “The fact that it was a camera-based system was critical.”
The decision is not surprising since disputed goals seem to be permanently etched in England’s sports psyche.
Geoff Hurst’s infamous – and to this day – hotly disputed goal in the 1966 World Cup final against Germany occurred at a time when there was no technological quick fix available.
Referee Gottfried Dienst instead relied on his linesman to make the decision to allow the goal, even though television replays actually showed the ball may have in fact struck the goal-line and should have been disallowed.
England went on to win the title in an age where the video technology really hadn’t existed.
In an ironic twist, 44 years later when the two clubs met at the 2010 World Cup, England’s Frank Lampard was robbed of a legitimate goal when the technology was available for use.
That incident created outrage amongst English fans and is seen by many as the true catalyst for the push towards the use of such a system in the English Premier League.
The EPL is also looking at making the video feed from Hawk-Eye available to broadcasters and big screens at its stadiums.
FIFA has already adopted the technology for the 2014 World Cup, this year’s Confederations Cup in Brazil.
After a lengthy tendering process the governing body decided to award its GLT contract to German company GoalControl.
While the EPL and FIFA are putting its faith in a technical fix, we can all wonder what sort of hicups might unfold this summer and next winter as the new rules take effect.
Professional tennis has used a similar system for many years to determine whether a ball is in or out, while video replay or video review is also a reality in many of North America’s professional sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, and the NHL.
However the introduction of this technology was never warmly received and critics argue the technology can also greatly slow down the progress of a game and disrupt its flow.
We can only wonder what advertisers and broadcasters might think if the neat two-hour broadcasting package that is currently the window for soccer is disrupted or altered.
Other professional soccer leagues are not so convinced it is the right fit for them at the moment, leaving England and FIFA’s early summer showcase in Brazil to be the technological guinea pigs.
Italy has no plans to introduce a goal-line technical fix and instead has introduced an extra official behind the goal, the same method UEFA employs for its competitions.
Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga both say they don’t plan to introduce the technology right away and are waiting until at least 2015.
“We are going to be watching the experience in the Premier League to see how it helps, and whatever things we can learn from the process,” La Liga chief executive Francisco Roca Perez told The Associated Press. “Helping refereeing is essential because this has become a huge business with enormous implications. It’s really sad when you see mistakes that are honest mistakes but affecting in a big way the outcome of a football match.”
Please vote in our poll and tell us whether you approve the use of goal-line technology. You can also take part in our EPL referee poll:
Who is the EPL's worst referee?
- Robert Madley (0%, 4 Votes)
- Simon Beck (1%, 9 Votes)
- Jonathan Moss (1%, 11 Votes)
- Anthony Taylor (1%, 13 Votes)
- Michael Oliver (2%, 14 Votes)
- Mike Jones (2%, 15 Votes)
- Roger East (2%, 15 Votes)
- Neil Swarbrick (2%, 17 Votes)
- Andre Marriner (3%, 28 Votes)
- Lee Mason (4%, 34 Votes)
- Lee Probert (4%, 34 Votes)
- Martin Atkinson (4%, 39 Votes)
- Mark Halsey (5%, 45 Votes)
- Phil Dowd (8%, 68 Votes)
- Mike Dean (8%, 70 Votes)
- Kevin Friend (9%, 79 Votes)
- Mark Clattenburg (18%, 161 Votes)
- Chris Foy (30%, 265 Votes)
- Howard Webb (31%, 276 Votes)
Total Voters: 877