Friday, March 09, 2012

Research Backs TV Alternative To Goal-Line Technology

Research undertaken by sports broadcaster Tim Long has logged just four incorrect goal-line calls during the 2010/11 FA Premier League season, compared to 151 goals that should/should not have been allowed for offside reasons. The research backs recent calls for TV replays to be introduced in football - and that is without analysing incorrect penalty/free kick decisions leading to a goal. Of 20 'goal-line decisions', four were incorrect, 12 were correct calls and four were impossible to tell from TV replays. Introduction of a proper TV replay system similar to that used in rugby union and league (rather than viewing broadcast TV replays) could also resolve the remaining four incidents.

Long told World Sports Law Report that his research, conducted for radio documentary Beyond The Goal Line: Football's Technology Debate, involved spending a whopping 250 hours analysing 713 incidents that occurred during the 2010/11 season. These included:

  • 361 penalty claims for fouls or handballs;
  • 151 goals that should / should not have been allowed for offside reasons;
  • 20 goal-line decisions (only four of these were incorrect, 12 were correct calls and 4 were impossible to tell from TV replays).

The rest of the decisions were red cards, second yellows, foul in or out of the box, etc.

Although the International FA Board has recently announced that it is proceeding with testing for goal-line technology, it is not too late for FIFA to listen to what is actually going on in football and change its mind. The amount of money involved in the modern game means that a lot is at stake and pressure is on players to gain an advantage in any possible way. If that means hoodwinking the referee…

In a sterling effort to show how TV replays could impact football, Long compiled a new Premier League table based on correcting the incorrect decisions. Arsenal would have leapfrogged Manchester City and Chelsea to finish second in the table, while Blackpool and Birmingham wouldn't have been related. Wigan and Wolves should have been relegated instead, along with West Ham.

Long's research proves what is at stake. Professional football needs and deserves a better system if FIFA truly wishes to make football a fair game. Regular readers of this blog will know what's coming next…

FIFA has a duty to protect the referee's integrity and allowing the manager or captain to make a limited number of challenges to decisions made during a match would impact the game little, and most professional clubs already have the technology in place to do this. FIFA's argument is that to allow video replays would ruin the flow of the game. I can't see how an instant TV replay the minute the ball next goes out of play would delay the game any more than referral to goal-line technology systems, or more than appeals to the referee by outraged players currently do.

FIFA's motto is 'For the Good of the Game'. It would appear that TV replays fit this motto neatly.

Andy Brown


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