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It's Time for Technology to Help Soccer Referees

In the 2010 World Cup, when England was playing Germany, Frank Lampard of England took a shot from outside the 18-yard box. The ball floated over the goalkeeper’s head and into the goal, but the spin on the ball made it bounce out of the goal, where Germany’s goalkeeper quickly pounced on it. The referees said no goal. England’s coaches and players were enraged with the call but the referee didn’t do anything. He couldn’t see if the ball went into the goal and the sideline referee was too far away to tell if the ball had crossed the line. So the referees said play on; England went on to lose and they were knocked out of the tournament.

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Lampard’s missed goal was not the only one the referees missed in the 2010 World Cup. USA’s Maurice Edu thought he had hit the winner against Slovenia, only for the referee to disallow the goal because the USA players had been “pushing” in the box. However, if you look at the replay you will clearly see that it is in fact vice-versa. The Slovenian players are actually holding the USA players down, not allowing them to rise to the ball. In another game, the referees allowed a goal that should have been flagged for offsides. Carlos Tevez, of Argentina, was clearly a few feet offsides when he received a pass from a teammate and notched it into the corner of the goal. The goal was allowed, Argentina went on to win, and Mexico went home.

The question was brought up about “goal-line technology” in soccer. After the 2010 World Cup FIFA said that they would review the situation. After “reviewing the situation” FIFA president SeppBlatter said, “Let it be as it is and let's leave soccer with errors. The television companies will have the right to say the referee was right or wrong, but still the referee makes the decision – a man, not a machine.”

However, after receiving negative press Blatter changed his mind, just like he does with every controversial subject. This time he said that he “would rather die” than see another incident like Lampard’s. So IFAB (the International Football Association Board) said that they would look into the addition of “goal-line technology.” At IFAB’s March 2012 meeting, which was comprised of representatives from four home nations and four from FIFA, the members announced that they had selected two systems to test further. IFAB will look over the results of recent testing and announce a final decision on July 2. If approved the system will probably make its debut in the Club World Cup in December, and the Confederations Cup in the following year.

One of the systems in question is the same that they use for tennis, to identify if a ball has been hit long or wide. The system is called Hawk-Eye, and it uses a series of cameras placed in different areas of the goal to determine if the ball has indeed crossed the line.

I can’t believe that FIFA is finally using some common sense. If the system is approved, and does well in the Club World Cup and Confederations Cup, hopefully they will implement it in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

I also think that goal-line technology will be introduced into regional leagues such as the Barclay’s Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and yes possibly even the MLS. Once it starts being used in FIFA and league officials see how it contributes to the sport, they will quickly appreciate the positive impact that the technology has on the game.