The Premier League recently announced that goal-line technology will be introduced in time for next season. Action came swiftly after FIFA president Sepp Blatter finally reversed his steadfast opposition to technology in football.

Disbelief | Frank Lampard holds his hands to his head as his shot crosses the line against Germany but no goal is given in South Africa. (Image | The Guardian)

Disbelief | Frank Lampard holds his hands aloft in protest as his shot crosses the line against Germany, but no goal is given in South Africa. (Image | The Guardian)

He said that FIFA would appear to be “foolish” if it did not act on a series of embarrassing mistakes, such as the failure to award a goal to England midfielder Frank Lampard during a game against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Is there even a debate to be had?

To most, this is a debate that does not even require discussion. Surely we can only be better off with the long-awaited introduction of technology to football?

Indeed, the very fact that it is so often referred to as “video” technology shows how long the idea has been bandied around. The arguments all seem to make a lot of sense, except that merely using “goal-line” technology could open up a huge can of worms.

While any mistake can be put down to human error at the moment, the issue with goal-line technology is that while teams may benefit from this assistance, they could also lose out on goals that ought to have been called offside.

An example from last season was the game between Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers. Had goal-line technology been used in this match, QPR would have been awarded a goal that they lost unfairly due to a refereeing error.

On the other hand, the Rangers equaliser would still have stood, despite being blatantly offside.


In theory, goal-line technology would make football a fairer sport with fewer injustices, but in this case it would have inflicted an injustice upon Bolton.

Technology would have handed the visitors a goal, but their offside strike would not have been flagged up by goal-line assistance.

Such inconsistency in the so-called “fairness” of technology would quickly agitate players, managers and supporters alike, and observers would begin to demand judicial exactitude for all errors, not just goal-line decisions.

At the moment, frustration and annoyance can be blamed on human error, but when some forms of technology creep into the game while others do not, this will only serve to infuriate fans further.

Dispute | Mexican players surround the referee as controversy reigns during their clash with Argentina at the 2010 World Cup. (Image | Bleacher Report)

Dispute | Mexican players try to reason with the referee as controversy reigns during their clash with Argentina at the 2010 World Cup. (Image | Bleacher Report)

Likewise, looking back at Lampard’s ill-fated effort in South Africa, Mexico were also left devastated by a horrendous offside call in their match against Argentina on the same day. Arguably theirs was far more of a game-changing decision than England’s.

Yet goal-line technology would only solve one of these obvious errors. The Argentine goal is such a striking example because it was mistakenly replayed in the ground, so the crowd, players and officials could all see it was offside, but this most basic replay technology was ignored.

In theory, goal-line technology is a great asset, because goals are so important. However, that is also exactly why the use of technology cannot be reserved for the goal line only, and would need to include a way of dealing with offside goals.

Where do the reviews stop?

Red cards are often game-changing too, but these are perhaps a more dubious issue to contend with. It is, however, a debate that has reared its head following Nani’s dismissal against Real Madrid earlier this month.

Such arguments continued after Wigan Athletic striker Callum McManaman avoided a red card for his challenge on Newcastle United defender Massadio Haïdara. Quite where red-card decisions fit in, I am not sure.

Certainly, supporters do not want too many stoppages in play, and excessive reviews would be disastrous. Nevertheless, there was ample time to review McManaman’s challenge and correctly send him off, so it is a factor that should certainly be considered.

There is no perfect solution as yet, but allowing an official to view television replays in order to deal with offside goal disputes (as well as using goal-line technology), would certainly provide a vastly superior solution than goal-line technology on its own.

Others share this opinion: sports journalist Patrick Barclay, for instance, has been a strong advocate of this argument for many years.

As a topic, this issue is often interpreted as being one-sided. In many ways it is, but I hope this argument highlights that the issue is not quite so simplistic, and should be reopened to debate.

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