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The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Goal line technology a good start, but not enough


Soccer is fundamentally flawed.

Yes, the last minute twists and the drama are incredible, but all of that doesn’t hide the fact that at the end of the day it all comes down to a guy with a whistle.

Billions of pounds, jobs, and, above all, pride are at stake in soccer; this is far too much responsibility to be left up to human error.

The 2013-2014 Barclays Premier League season is the first season that will include goal line technology. The hawk-eye system, the same computer system used in tennis for decision appeal, chosen by the Football Association (FA), will inform referees within a second whether or not the ball has crossed the goal line. Though somewhat overdue, this is absolutely a step in the right direction for the sport.

Goal line technology has been a contentious topic for some time. It took a long time for FIFA’s, the governing body of international soccer, interest to be piqued. The tipping point for FIFA was the infamous Frank Lampard 2010 World Cup incident, where Lampard’s lobbed shot clearly bounced over the goal line, past Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. It was obvious to all that the ball had crossed the line, all, that is, apart from the referee.

Too many times I have walked away from a game shaking my head because an incorrect refereeing decision completely changed the outcome of the match.

For example, take the 2013 Champions League final, the most prestigious club soccer match of the year, which featured Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund. Munich are winning 1-0, Dortmund get the ball into the Munich penalty area. Marco Reus, a Dortmund player, is kicked in the chest by a Munich defender, Dante, who had already received a yellow card in the first half. The referee, Nicola Rizzoli, awards a penalty to Dortmund. Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan converts the penalty and the score is 1-1.

Dante should have been given a second yellow and, consequently, been sent off. He wasn’t. Bayern Munich went on to win the game 2-1 and were crowned Champions of Europe. After lifting the Champions League trophy, Bayern Munich’s brand value increased 9 percent, worth approximately £46.2 million.

If Dante was sent off, as he should have been, it would have been different match. Dortmund would be playing against 10 men with all of the momentum in their favor. But, because of the referee’s incorrect decision, £46.2 million goes in Bayern Munich’s direction. As some would say, that’s soccer.

The old mantra that “it all evens out over the season” is a dated, and, quite frankly, close-minded way of looking at it. There is no karmic force that surges through soccer, giving teams penalties one week when they should have been awarded one the previous week. Instead, there is a referee; a person who is liable to make a mistake.

This is something that is important to remember, though easy to forget. I admit I am at times guilty of blaming a referee for making mistakes. Soccer fans need to recognize this, and simply booing the referee does not accomplish anything. In reality, it’s not the referee’s fault; they need help.

I’d love to see soccer implement a similar system to that of tennis. In tennis, using Hawkeye technology, each player is allowed to challenge three decisions per set. If they correctly challenge the call, then they are granted their challenge back. If they are incorrect, however, they lose one of their three appeals.

I think a system similar to this would be extremely effective in soccer; each team should be granted one appeal per half. Yes, it would slow the game down, but that should not be a concern at this point. There are billions of pounds at stake. Whether fans like it or not, soccer is a business, and the money that shifts with every decision is imperative to the progress of the sport.

Fans, players and managers alike are guilty of exhibiting inappropriate conduct towards referees. Already this season, Iain Holloway, Crystal Palace manager, has been fined £18,000 and banned from the touchline for two games. Phil Lambert, manager of Aston Villa, has been fined £8,000. The season is only five game weeks old and that’s already two managers that have been fined a combined £26,000. Clearly, something has to change. If there was more clarity, these managers would have no grounds for a complaint, which would, in theory, see an end to these fines.

Goal line technology has only been implemented in the Premier League, and not yet in lower divisions as well, due to its high cost.

Each team has had to pay £250,000 for the system to be installed in their respective stadiums. For lower league sides, it’s an unfeasible amount. Video technology would be cheaper, therefore more available throughout the leagues.

While soccer is a wonderful sport, and one that I have poured time, emotion and money into, it is time for a change. Goal line technology is a step in the right direction, but it should not be the end of the sport’s technological progress.

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