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Goal-line technology back in the spotlight

February 25, 2011

Frank Lampard’s controversial disallowed goal against Germany in their round of 16 encounter in Bloemfontein helped reignite the goal-line technology (GLT) debate. The England midfielder’s 39th minute shot bounced off the crossbar and, as replays showed, passed the line by nearly a metre. This was not seen by either the referee or the linesman. Fabio Capello’s side would go on to lose 4-1.

This slip-up denied England an important equaliser, one that might have affected the outcome of the game. The dropping of a two-goal lead could have had a disastrous impact on the collective psyche of the young German team. Nevertheless, it was the English who lost the battle of morale. Their desperate scramble to draw level in the second half opened the door to two consecutive counter-attack goals, scored by Thomas Müller, in the 67th and 70th minutes.

Following the game Frank Lampard declared the introduction of goal-line technology a “no-brainer”. His voice, like many managers and players before him, went directly against the position of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who has for several years been a vocal opponent of GLT.

Technology has long been employed to assist officials in tennis and rugby, but Fifa is loath to embrace it. The governing body argues GLT will widen the divide between amateur and professional football. They also maintain that external aids will slow down the flow of play.

Proponents of technology cite the high stakes in competitions such as the World Cup as the rationale for its application. Their voices prompted Fifa to consider two options in the past; the Hawk-Eye, as used in professional tennis and cricket, and the so-called Cairos GLT System, developed by Cairos Technologies AG. Both, however, were officially ruled out after an International Football Association Board (IFAB) meeting in March 2010. To date, no goal-line technology has been used in a competitive football match.

In the wake of high-profile errors, like Lampard’s disallowed goal, the pressure on Fifa to reconsider their stance continued to mount. The governing body was forced to take another look at the issue. On 20 October 2010, IFAB convened for its Annual Business Meeting in Newport, Wales, where members agreed to reopen GLT discussions. The end of November was set as a deadline for companies to pitch their technologies to Fifa. Uefa president Michel Platini has since entered the fray, warning that the adoption of goal-line technology will turn the beautiful game into “PlayStation football”.

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