Goal-Line Technology: Football Infiltrated

Do you know that “1966 ghost goal”? And how about that Lampard disallowed goal in 2010? Well, they are, or actually were, among those moments that constitute two essential principles of the beautiful game of football: Spontaneity and Controversy.

I am not referring to those moments in the past tense because they happened some years ago, but because FIFA has approved the Goal-Line Technology.

On July 5, 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) convened at the Home of FIFA in Zurich for a Special Meeting under the chairmanship of FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. Three major items were decided and approved in this meeting, and the goal-line technology (GLT) was one of them (details here). The decision means we will see the GLT officially implemented starting and during the FIFA Club World Cup 2012 in Japan. It also means that Sepp Blatter finally gave in and changed his mind after he fought it for long. Moreover, it means that the head of UEFA, Michel Platini, is upset. And last but not least, it means that fans around the world have split feelings (not the English obviously) about what the decision means.

I am not Blatter, I am not Platini, and I am not English, but I am football. My greatest fear though, is that the goal-line technology will open Pandora’s Box and the beautiful game will become another Tennis lookalike or American Football wannabe. I know that Blatter and the IFAB promised that the “technology will only be utilised for the goal line and for no other areas of the game,” but I am worried. I am worried that more calls for more changes arise, and the human spontaneous and controversial factors disappear.

goal line technology

The controversy never ends; from Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup, to Frank Lampard in 2010, passing by Muntari in the 2012 Juventus-Milan clash, and finally John Terry’s clearance in Euro 2012

  • Offsides: Instant replays that will cause the game to stop many times or gameplays repeated and the likes of Inzaghi or David Villa get no balls
  • Free kicks: Distance measurement and robots invading the field and fixing stuff to determine wall placement
  • Penalty kicks: A committee of ten thousand “experts” holding mobile phones and glued to screens talking to the referee at each incident inside the box
  • Substitutions: Stopwatches used to prevent time wasting and fans can get a burger while time stands still. Players come off and then decide to come on again.
  • Bookings: Some exotic models to count the number of fouls committed by a player and hand the referee a report card to book him after three strikes
  • Fouls: A Supreme Court judge sits on the sides calculating the seconds wasted with each foul and feeding the referee. The game of 90 minutes becomes the game of 90 days.
  • Posts and Crossbars: Colors added for balls to be identified as corner kicks or goal kicks. And maybe, just maybe, they become players and a ball hitting any, while going out of the field, becomes a corner kick.

Well, again, I am worried. I know that the goal-line technology will put many demons to sleep, and some millions will rejoice, but it is not fair for the game. GLT means no anxiety within players fearing the unknown. GLT means playing safe. GLT means extra hundreds of thousands of US dollars paid to implement it in each stadium. GLT means many federations will have no qualified stadiums to host games. GLT means that moments we still argue about, like 1966 or 2010, will never exist.

Still, GLT is now approved, and I can do nothing about it, but I will hold the FIFA, the IFAB, and Blatter, and all those celebrating to this: “technology will only be utilised for the goal line and for no other areas of the game.”

Now, you are welcome to discuss your fears or show your happiness.

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