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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Goal-line referees not enough for Ukraine

Photo credit: Sky.com

It has been widely accepted by fans, players, coaches, owners, leagues that some form of technology should be implemented to make the game of soccer more just. In 2010, at the World Cup, unfairness reared its unpleasant face when Frank Lampard's strike versus Germany was ruled not to be a goal when the ball is clearly shown to have crossed the line. For Euro 2012, UEFA made things a bit clearer by adding two additional referees at each goal. It was hoped that they could see actions unnoticed by the other officials.

Alas, the goal-line referees weren't enough either. In yesterday's match for the final game of group play between Ukraine and England, Marko Devic's strike past Joe Hart was cleared off the goal line by John Terry. So England fans hoped, and so saw the goal-line ref. But video playback shows that Terry clears the ball after it has completely crossed the line. In essence: goal.

So what now? FIFA has been looking into two different types of goal-line technology to circumvent the kind of situation mentioned above. One uses camera-based technology (Hawk-Eye) while the other (GoalRef) utilizes magnetic sensors to track the ball's path. A decision is set for July 5th and Sepp Blatter himself has said he will not go into Brazil 2014 without goal-line tech.

But why has it taken this long? Why do we have to ask this question? Michel Platini's argument that a goal-line referee would perform the same action is clearly flawed after yesterday's events, but it points to the old guard's elusiveness when it comes to amending the laws of the game.

Some of the American argument for why the game isn't as popular in this country is the lack of playback or assisting technology that is so prevalent in the National Football League. Maybe soccer could take on some American football rules for a change: how about a challenge allowed per team per half? You already have 3-4 minutes of stoppage time in average, so why not add another minute? Purity should give way to fairness in this world we live in. Nowadays everyone can look at the same angle whether on a TV screen, computer or smartphone. Suddenly we are all smarter than the referees. Why can't they use the same technology to upgrade their capabilities also?

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