Tackling technology – is there even still an argument?

Monday night’s failure by the officials to spot Victor Anichebe’s effort cross the line brought to life a debate that had been dormant since way back in….well June, as what should have been registered as a despairing attempt by John Terry ended up denying the Ukraine a clear goal.Is there anything even still to debate? Our co-editors James Albion and @josephclift give it a go…

Ghost Goal during the England vs Germany game ...

The Ghost Goal of World Cups Past…

JA: If TV replays and goal-line technology are introduced to football it will be one of the sport’s darkest days. Just imagine how dull football would be if referees could never makes mistakes?

You see, I like it when referees make mistakes. When they get it wrong it can make a football game. An utterly turgid nil-nil bore-athon can suddenly be brought alive by a referee’s decision that defies common sense.

There’d be no more journeys home sniggering at how you’d robbed the opposition blind after an utterly unjustified sending off or penalty had changed the game.

JC: For starters, bringing in video technology means you’d be spared those tedious journeys home hearing others sniggering at how they’d ‘robbed the opposition blind’ after an utterly unjustified sending off or penalty had changed the game.

If you’re a small club, potentially within a whisker of a historic result, it will come as scant consolation for them to hear that at the very least the appalling decision costing them the match ‘gives us something to talk about’. It is akin to a family member hearing about a terrible defeat, uttering the phrase: ‘well, it’s only a game’.

The days when this was an accepted part of the game in this country changed with the advent of the Premier League – instant replays becoming available en masse. Video technology should be treated the same way as the introduction of goal-keeping gloves or a type of football that doesn’t seriously injure those that persistently head it. Technology’s moved on, the game’s moved on, and frankly I’m annoyed that this conversation hasn’t moved on.

JA: But refereeing cock-ups can elevate meaningless matches to legendary status! Would anyone ever know that Reading played Watford back in 2008 if it wasn’t for the phantom goal? People will still be talking about that match in 50-years time – which simply wouldn’t be the case if a video review had corrected the mistake.

JC: Yes, and unfortunately I’m still going to be talking about the non-award of a blatant foul on Luton Shelton in the Man United box in 2007, denying a likely goal that would have kept Sheffield United up on goal-difference, for likely the next 50 years. Or the host of other similar goal-denying refereeing blunders. Nobody wants to hear me talk about this sort of stuff – especially you.

JA: The problem is goal line technology or video replays would create an anaemic utopia. One which is boring, dull and safe. One which robs us of the ‘what if……..’

What if Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup had been given? Well, I don’t think the result would have been any different, we’d still have been handed a humiliating loss. But we’ll never know will we? I’d rather have the reassuring ambiguity of ‘what if’, rather than be forced to concede we were utterly outplayed for 90 minutes.

JC: I think there’s a solution without having to go all the way to the ‘anaemic utopia’ you describe. I’ve enjoyed the introduction of the challenge system in tennis. You have the benefit of improving the quality of decisions, with the restriction that the ‘second-look’ isn’t something that you can just use all the time. I witnessed an even better example of this in the hockey in the Olympics. Again, a limited number of challenges, with minimal disruption. How much fun would it be to see Neil Warnock witness a dodgy decision, only to realise he erroneously used his remaining challenges flippantly mere minutes before? This wouldn’t eliminate all errors – but it would be a definite improvement on the present.

JA: We’d do well to remember that England won it’s only ever international trophy courtesy of a blunder by a Russian linesman.

JC: Yes. Bloody disgraceful.


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