FIFA: Is Goal-Line Technology A Good Idea?

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On June 27, 2010, England met Germany in a World Cup second round match. Hopes were high for the English who believed this would finally be their year. All they had to do was vanquish the Germans and romp into the quarterfinals. It was easier said than done.

The Germans stormed to an early 2-0 lead before the English scored a goal through Matthew Upson. It seemed that the tide may have finally been turning in favor of the English. Then, a moment of controversy soured the captivating tie.

Barely a minute after Upson's goal and after a sweeping move by the English, midfielder Frank Lampard saw an opportunity to take a shot at goal. He took the chance, crashing a long range effort off the crossbar that clearly crossed the line. The referee however did not allow the goal but instead waved the Englishmen's protestations away and ordered for the game to continue.

The English were deflated. The Germans took the initiative and scored two more goals crushing the English 4-1. The clamor for goal line technology reached a crescendo that day.

In a press conference convened by FIFA on the July 5, Secretary General Jerome Valcke announced that the World Soccer body had finally bowed to intense pressure and was set to allow the introduction of goal line technology.

The decision was reached by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that is the custodian of the game's laws, after a vote at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. The technology will be tested in the Club World Cup this December, the Confederations Cup in 2013 and in the 2014 World Cup.

Controversy as a result of denied goals is not new. Last season's Italian Serie A clash between AC Milan and Juventus was also mired in controversy when AC Milan was denied a clear goal that dampened their chances of winning the Serie A.

In the recently concluded Euro 2012 Ukraine was denied a goal in their group game against England when John Terry cleared the ball after it had crossed the line.

It is hoped that with the introduction of this technology such incidents will be completely eliminated.

There are two systems that have been approved for use by FIFA. GOAL-REF that uses magnetic technology to determine if a ball has crossed the line and HAWK-EYE a system that is already in use in tennis.

Various football associations around the world have welcomed the move to introduce goal line technology in soccer. Other sports like cricket and tennis have embraced this kind of technology for years with positive results. It is hoped that the introduction of technological change will finally benefit global soccer.

The cost of implementing the scheme is a major factor. Third World and developing countries may find the costs involved to be prohibitive. This may mean that the technology will almost certainly, at least in the first instance, be restricted to the First World and major tournaments.

In addition football purists argue that soccer may lose its worldwide appeal if goal-line and other technologies takes root. They maintain that human mistakes, even by officials, are after all part of the game. One hopes taking this argument into account that the game of soccer will not end up becoming too mechanical. Either way the move by FIFA is a step in the right direction.

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