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Implementing Technology into football

06/27/10

Permalink 04:05:33 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Sports, Commentary

Implementing Technology into football

In the 1966 world cup final between England and West Germany Geoff Hurst made a shot that bounced off of the upright and right on to the goal line, after some deliberation the goal was awarded to England who subsequently went on to win their first and only world cup. In 2010 Frank Lampard made a shot that bounced off of the upright and landed in the goal before bouncing out into the hands of the keeper, this was not awarded as a goal to England despite the fact that the replays showed a clear goal. The difference between these two occasions was that in 1966 colour televisions had just started to become popular and computers still required entire rooms to be held in... while in 2010 there are cell phones that have the ability to do what computers can do, cars that can drive themselves, and kitchen appliances that can surf the web. This contrast is important as even though technology has now gotten to the point where there are fully functional bionic body parts, football still seems to be trapped in the dark ages wid the most recent technological innovation being the substitution boards.

Football substitution boards

One is forced to ask, why is it that football is still this way? It cannot be that the technology is unreliable, after all the type of technology that would need to be used has been used in countless sports such as Tennis, Rugby, Ice Hockey, Cricket... almost every sport as a matter of  fact uses some form of technology to aid its officials in making more accurate decisions, but not football. The reason given by most FIFA officials as to its decision not to use the technology is that it is trying to maintain the tradition that football has always had, another reason that has been given is that it makes football an equal sport the world over, in that the same way that the sport is played in the sports premier competition, it is played the same way in high school leagues, and even in primary school leagues. All that is needed is a whistle, and some flags and using that alone you have all that is necessary to officiate. While one can see the merit in having equality all around, it should also be noted that the sloppy officiating does make the game less attractive to the people who are watching the sport and also leads to people being frustrating at the football governing body. After all a goal given or taken may be what makes or breaks a football match.

To me however the argument for technology goes way beyond having it involved in every game, but more goes into the question of exactly what kind of technology should be implemented into the football game. There are many different types of technology available which can be used, this video by the BBC goes into just a few of them and how they can be used in the game. However I have to question the feasibility of putting them in the game because there is one thing about football which differs from every other sport, and that thing is that football is a continuous sport. There are rarely any breaks in the game of football, and it is possible for a game to be played without the referee ever having to blow a whistle except to announce a goal (though that never happens). This is one of the reasons why football is an exciting game, the continuous stream of attack and counterattack makes it one where the viewer has to sit at the edge of his seat for the entire time and pray that his team will win.

If one is to implement replay technology in the football game, you will break the flow of the game. These pauses in the game slow it down and to me causes it to lose some of what makes it such an attractive sport. Especially in those times where a replay is so close that it requires the referee to look at it from different angles to make the best call possible, (such as in offside calls). An example of this is in the NFL, where when a review of the play is called the broadcasters have the time to play 3 or 4 advertisements and then come back and focus on the referee watching the video, and then focus on the players, and the coaches, and then finally a call is made. This means that 5 or more minutes are wasted, gone, and in the case of football will be added to stoppage time. This means that games will now have 10-15 minutes worth of stoppage time each, this to me in no way adds any attractiveness to the game and instead takes away from it.

Goal line technology (see the video) however I can see making some amount of sense in the football game. This technology is one where once the ball passes the goal line and enters the goal, the referee is signaled that the ball has in fact entered the goal and awards the goal to the team. This is pretty straightforward and does not pause the game in any way, and will have made the difference in goals such as the one that happened this morning.

Another issue I forsee with technology being used in football is the issue of offsides. The only way to properly tell an offside is by using replay technology, and I have already stated that replay technology does pose problems as far as its effects on football. The only other way then is to have something like goal line technology being used on players. Placing a transciever on all players and then having and one on the ball  and of course doing all the calculations (if ball is kicked in direction A and player B is in front of player C then it is offiside, else onside) all makes perfect sense, except one question is at wat part of the player do you place the device. Is it torso, legs, feet, head etc.? All of these decisions will have to be made, and then after that happens players will now know and have ways in which they could beat the system. Can you imagine the expense of implementing this as well?

The final issue that I can forsee with technology in football is the issue of punishment. Lets say, that we implement the replay system. A player runs offside and the referee blows, the coaches call for a review, and it turns out that the player was not in fact offside. What do you do then? Do you give a free kick? Or a Penalty kick? Or even a goal? The problem comes in because football is a game where as they say "the ball is round". Just because you are in front of an empty net does not mean you will score, this has happened on numerous occasions. The keeper who gave away 5 goals earlier in the match, may just decide to perform a brilliant save on that 6th goal. The player may slide because one of the pegs on his boot comes off. There are just too many variables available to give one fair punishment for an offside call.

So one can see that technology in football isn't something that can just be put in and then work. There is always a way in which the system can fail in the same way it can be successful. There are always variables which simply cannot be calculated and the decisions made can end up being the most unfair call, despite having the noblest of causes. The human side of football is very important and despite what some people may believe, it is one of the reasons why football is such a loved sport around the world, because in the same breath you will curse a referee if the call is against your team, you will love him if it is for your team. While one can see the use of goal line technology in football, the use of replay and  any other technologies, will in my opinion do more harm than good.

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