Both are being staged in Brazil, and the news that FIFA has finally approved the use of technology in football is a major milestone. For years FIFA had resisted using technology in the sport, insisting that it was a danger, rather than a help.
In the end, it was a few obvious errors which embarrassed the world authorities into action. Both involving England, naturally. Frank Lampard’s clearly over the line goal against Germany in the World Cup in 2010 was one major error. That England were then the beneficiaries as John Terry failed to get back to clear the ball off the line against Ukraine in last summer’s European Championships was a timely reminder of the urgency of bringing in goal line technology.
Now, the sport can finally utilise and make the most of the vital technologies that others have relied upon for so long. It is a major boost and something which will give the game a bit more credibility. There are so many decisions which are disputed in football, but whether a ball has crossed the line or not is a clear cut issue that technology should be used for, and it is not a moment too soon that it will come into force.
What would be worrying is if this turned into a call for more video technology. Replaying controversial incidents which are not obviously clear one way or the other would be a problem and unhelpful for the sport. This is not tennis. It is not always 100% clear what a decision should be. There is no decisive ‘in’ or ‘out’. Football relies on numerous ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’, all of which are so complex that it would be a real issue if we were to start reviewing such difficult to judge decisions. Whether a player intended to dive, to foul someone or even cases of offside can be confused further, rather than cleared up, using technology.
So FIFA now has a bigger battle on its hands. How to prevent those calls for video technology winning the day? They should be helped if Michel Platini, as expected, becomes the next FIFA President. He is so vehemently against technology in the sport that he opposed goal line technology. In the event, FIFA only approved it on the basis that the systems could be proven incontrovertibly to be to be accurate.
There is likely to be a clarion call and campaign going up to now up the ante in technology in the sport, so it is fundamental that the likes of Platini prevent a further incursion into football using review evidence. If anything, it is the rules of the game which need to be changed, clarified to make them less clouded, and more obvious to judge. Maybe when that happens football can be free of such controversies, which will inevitably cloud it. But until then, technology in football has its limit.