Football Needs To Come Out Of The Stone Age

"It takes five seconds to get the right decision [with technology]. People say it's part of the fun of the game. How is that part of the fun, a goal that isn't a goal?" - Harry Redknapp, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur
Football authorities' technophobia helped to keep Chelsea in the Premier League title race and may have relegated Tottenham Hotspur to the Europa League after match officials wrongly adjudged that a Frank Lampard shot had crossed the line in the London derby on Saturday.

"Anybody who has got any sense and understands football knows goalline technology should be used. It takes seconds," said Harry Redknapp, whose goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes, fumbled Lampard's drive when Spurs were leading 1-0. It takes decades to change FIFA's thinking on the kind of machinery that would tell a referee whether a ball had crossed a white mark on the grass, answers that are instantly available in tennis, cricket, rugby league and many American sports.

Chelsea won with a goal that never was and a disputed 89th-minute winner by Salomon Kalou, who some observers believed was offside. "It takes five seconds to get the right decision [with technology. People say it's part of the fun of the game. How is that part of the fun, a goal that isn't a goal?" Redknapp said.

One day football may accept that a simple piece of machinery could be of use in a game where one team is defending their Premier League title and the other is trying to secure a Champions League place for next season.

A game, in other words, in which careers are at stake and tens of millions of pounds wait to be shared out. For many, the case for goalline technology was rendered open and shut by Lampard's non-awarded goal in England's second-round tie with Germany at the World Cup in South Africa.

Less than a year after the World Cup, Lampard was again at the heart of an incident that demonstrated the need of goal-line technology when he drove a shot from 30 yards, which Gomes spilled under his body then scrambled to halt the ball as it dribbled towards his line. Replays showed that only about three‑quarters of it crossed the chalk. It was such a marginal call that the match officials need to have eagle eyes to get it right – and they plumped wrongly for the goal, thus nullifying Tottenham's lead, a spectacular long-range effort from Sandro.

Mike Cairns, the assistant referee (or linesman, as we all know them), convinced himself the Lampard "goal" was good. "He's guessed really. No one could see from there. He's on the 18-yard line, looking back from there. He's had a guess and he's guessed wrong. He hasn't done it on purpose because he wanted Chelsea to win and Spurs to lose. It was a mistake, but it happens all the time. Why can't the fourth official, instead of telling you get back in your box, look at a screen and say 'goal', or 'no goal'? The whole ball has to cross the line. That ball didn't cross the line," Redknapp said

Plenty was at stake for both sides. Chelsea are three points behind Manchester United and were facing a barren summer, 12 months after their Premier League and FA Cup Double. Carlo Ancelotti's job was on the line. Meanwhile, Spurs needed a reassuring win at home to end their Champions League journey on a high and try to qualify for the same competition, next season. With all this in the balance, it may seem sensible to copy the example set by other sports and halt the game briefly to consult a camera or cyclops eye trained along the goalline.

But football recoils from these innovations. Too arrogant to pause in the interests of fair play, it nevertheless exists in a permanent state of rancour as post-match controversies roll on and on.

Spurs have been here before, as victims rather than beneficiaries. A few years back Manchester United's Roy Carroll made a mess of a long chip by Tottenham's Pedro Mendes and found himself desperately chasing the bouncing ball back into his own net. Carroll scooped it out, long after it had crossed the line, and the goal was not given. The game was reduced to farce that night, as it was when Lampard's shot hit the crossbar and bounced over the line in Bloemfontein.

On the evidence of this intense, football authoroties (FIFA, UEFA) need to come out of the stone age and stop relying on a man with a flag instead they should use aid from technology.

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