They think it's all over . . . it is now with goal-line technology
IT WAS, by most historical accounts, the 1870s when soccer introduced a major technological change that, presumably, left aghast Luddites fearing for the purity of the game.
The referee’s whistle, though, survives until this day, but the fact that it isn’t always blown when the ball crosses the line has prompted the sport’s lawmakers to give goal-line technology a spin.
In Zurich yesterday, the International Football Association Board (Ifab) gave the go-ahead for two systems, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, to be used to help determine when a goal – a rather crucial element of the game – has actually been scored.
The final straw, it seems, was the error by Euro 2012 officials in not spotting that a Ukraine effort against England had crossed the line. Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin was so incensed he challenged a reporter, during his post-match press conference, to “go outside and have a man conversation”.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter – previously an opponent of the technology – took to Twitter to declare: “After last night’s match #GLT is no longer an alternative but a necessity”, while yesterday Ifab had a man conversation about the issue, the upshot being that Hawk-Eye and GoalRef will be used at December’s Club World Cup and, if all goes well, at the 2014 World Cup.
Hawk-Eye works by using six cameras for each goal to track the ball’s movement, and if it detects that it has crossed the line then a radio signal is sent to the referee’s wristwatch, within one second, to indicate a goal has been scored.
GoalRef uses a microchip implanted in the ball and magnetic waves around the goal – if any change in the magnetic field on/or behind the goal line is detected then, again, a message is sent to the referee within a second.
The estimated cost of the installation of the technology per stadium is €120,000 to €200,000. So at a time when more than a few Irish clubs cannot even afford to pay their players, never mind install these gadgets, it is likely only to be seen at major stadiums, like, perhaps, the Aviva in Dublin. The English Premier League welcomed the decision and said it would introduce the technology “as soon as is practically possible”.
Uefa president Michel Platini had opposed such innovation every step of the way, because “once you start, who knows where you might stop?”
That’s probably, in truth, how the traditionalists felt about the whistle.