The introduction of goal line technology is, so far, the biggest football ‘game-changer’ of the 21st century (excluding online football betting, of course).
The fast-paced nature of the game means that referees and their assistants often struggle to keep up with the game. As a result, important and vital decisions can be missed which may affect the final outcome of the game. However, despite all of the positives which goal-line technology may have, there are still come criticisms of the technology.
Since the use of goal-line technology has been permitted in matches, it has only been used a handful of times to make decisions that probably wouldn’t have been called correctly by a referee or one of their assistants. The most memorable use of goal-line technology so far occurred in a Premier League match between Aston Villa and Fulham. Lewis Holtby was denied a goal by the tiniest of margins.
Before the introduction of goal-line technology, this decision would have been nearly impossible to correctly call and would probably have resulted in the referee’s assistant believing the ball had crossed the line and giving the goal to Fulham. Ultimately, this decision didn’t have any significant impact on the result of the match as Fulham eventually ran out 2-1 winners.
This highest profile match where this technology has been used is the 2014 World Cup between France and Honduras.
After a Karim Benzema shot hit the post, the ball deflected off the keeper and into his own net. Despite his best efforts, the keeper was unable to keep the ball out before the ball crossed the line. The speed at which this happened meant it would have been difficult for the referee to make the correct decision without the help of the technology. Fortunately, the technology assisted the referee in awarding the goal to France which helped them to a 3-0 over the Hondurans.
Despite the usefulness and instant response of the technology, there has also been some criticism. Some fans argue that the use of technology removes the human element from the game and can also slow down the speed of the game. However, goal-line technology has shown that technology can make decisions instantaneously and not interrupt the flow or speed of the game. Another criticism which goal-line technology has faced is the cost of implementing the technology. So far, FIFA approved goal-line technology is only implemented in 78 stadiums and only used in some of the biggest leagues and competitions in the world. Lower league clubs are unable to spend the money to implement the technology.
Every Premier League club is expected to have goal-line technology installed in their stadium. The £250,000 installation cost may essentially be ‘pennies’ for Premier League clubs, but lower league clubs are not financially able to spend the money to have it installed. For a lot of lower league clubs, £250,000 is a significant percentage of their yearly revenue and would rather invest it in other areas of the club – such as the playing squad. Leagues such as the MLS have also refused to adopt goal-line technology, citing the cost as the overriding factor. Even larger leagues, such as the Bundesliga, originally refused to implement the technology into their league due to the costs which are involved when installing and maintaining it.
Despite the criticisms which fans and clubs have with goal-line technology, they can’t argue that the technology does not work. Before the introduction of goal-line technology, the number of “ghost goal” and “phantom goal” cases occurring in matches seemed to be rising and became a notable talking point amongst many fans. The most notable incident was Frank Lampard’s shot against Germany which crossed the line (after coming off the crossbar) but then bounced back out. This moment also proved to be the moment which persuaded former FIFA president Sepp Blatter to try and introduce technology to football. Since goal-line technology has been introduced into the game, the only ghost goal incidents which have occurred, happened in leagues where goal-line technology is not yet implemented.
Overall, it seems that the introduction of goal-line technology has had a positive impact on the game so far. The speed at which the decisions are made allows the face-paced nature of the game to continue, and also doesn’t disrupt the flow of the game. The technology also helps significantly reduce the number of errors that are made by referees in a game. This is especially important considering how much money is involved in the game today. Just one mistake by a referee could lead to a team losing millions of dollars. As well as goal-line technology ‘improving’ the game, it has also proved to fans that technology can work in football without disrupting the overall flow of the game. This means that fans may be more accepting of more types of technology being introduced into the game in the future.