Technology has a limited place in football

Three weeks, three leagues, three mistakes.
One was a ‘goal’ from Sulley Muntari for AC Milan against Juventus, which could prove crucial still in the Serie A title race. Then Carlos Vela’s strike for Real Sociedad against Athletic Bilbao, which was disallowed despite clearly crossing the line. And finally Clint Hill headed home for QPR against Bolton, yet the header was disallowed despite going over the line.

The calls for technology to be brought in were deafening, but there is a limit in this debate that is being ignored. Whilst goalline technology would clearly be good, as even Sepp Blatter acknowledges, there is a simpler, cheaper alternative – from the arch opponent of technology in football, Michel Platini. He of course brought in the officials who stand behind the goal – extra officials tried in the Europa League.

It is a simple and better idea. All of the goals which were ruled out would easily be spotted by an official behind the goal. In the QPR Bolton game for a start, the goal was understandably not given as the assistant referee couldn’t see through the Bolton keeper, who obstructed his view. Unless we expect assistant referees to be on both sides of the pitch at the same time, mistakes like this will happen. Unless we use extra officials.

Then there is the wider issue of mistakes being corrected with technology and video replays. There is a problem here, and it was highlighted in the Rugby World Cup final of 2007. Rugby, like football, is not a definite science. Tennis on the other hand, with its three challenges rule, is. In Tennis the ball is either out or it is in. This is a sport which technology works in.

Football is not like that. Neither is rugby, and in that World Cup final, England thought they’d scored a try, they had a video replay and it was inconclusive. The referee didn’t give it and as a result the South Africans were delighted by the English aggrieved. No-one could really tell. And that would be the case in football, where the players are more spoilt and less respectful of decisions than their rugby counterparts. Technology would lead to people, instead of simply arguing for video replays, using video replays to further their argument without anything conclusive. There are countless decisions, such as when a player dives, which are disputed even on video replays after several days on television. How is a referee, even with the benefit of a video replay, meant to make such decisions. All that will happen is that on these subjective decisions, where there is no conclusive proof with a video replay, the referee will be lambasted even more than he already is by those who disagree with him.

Football is not an exact science. Technology can have its place in the game, such as with goal-line incidents, but for those decisions where it is impossible to ever be 100% certain, technology should never, ever be used.