Football: Technology needed or not?

A short video I did on BBC’s Daily Politics yesterday. Click to watch the video.

Over 18 million people watched England beat Ukraine to reach the last 8 of the European Championships and so everyone and their dog seems to have an opinion on the Ukraine “goal” that wasn’t. It immediately reopened the debate about goal line technology, as well as bringing into question the benefit of having extra officials on hand at the goal line to assist the referee.

What the debate seems to have missed is that regardless of the merits of goal line technology in accurately measuring whether the ball had crossed the line, if we had goal line technology assisting referees, a goal would have been wrongly awarded to Ukraine. I think that I’ve only seen one newspaper acknowledge that in the build up to the goal, Ukraine were clearly offside and this was missed by the officials. I think it was the Metro newspaper that mentioned the offside, but they still then used a couple of pages of newprint talking about the ball being over the line.

With the use of goal line technology a goal would have been given, but it would have been wrong. In this instance 2 wrongs did make a right!

Technology has worked brilliantly in tennis and to a certain extent it has massively improved decisions in cricket, rugby and American football. But in cricket, rugby and American football there are still some disputes. I suppose that this is the argument for only using goal line technology and not other instant replays for fouls and offsides, where there would be very few decisions that would still be disputed over whether it fully crossed the line. But there will be plenty of human errors that continue to change the outcome of a football match and cost football teams trophies.

So that’s why I remain opposed to use of technology in football. I don’t think you can pick and choose where you use the technology in a football match. Use it in sports where it can make a massive difference. And let’s leave referees (and their assistants) to decide whether it was a offside, a foul or that the ball went over the line. Part of football’s attraction is the controversy. When Vincent Kompany got sent off against United in the FA Cup, it wasn’t even a foul, never mind a red card. Nobody will convince me otherwise, but plenty of people have told me that if Nani hadn’t jumped in the air he would have been injured and that it was a 2 footed challenge. I’ve watched it a million times and I still disagree. But sometimes they will go in your favour, and other times they won’t. That’s football. That’s why it’s the best game on earth, and if we use technology we’ll no longer be able to blame referees for our teams being rubbish!

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