Last weekend Bolton Wanderers vs QPR was just another Barclay’s Premier League fixture, a fixture with much riding on it due to the position of both sides in the table. It was just another game, another relegation labeled “six pointer” like many before…that is until Clint Hill swooped in at the far post to head what seemed like Queens Park Rangers into the lead. The Bolton players stopped, the home fans went quiet, Hill peeled away celebrating and for a split second even SkySports had adjusted the score box in the top left hand corner to read 1-0…however Referee Martin Atkinson with the help of linesman Bob Pollock who kept his flag down judged that the ball did not cross the line, and the score remained 0-0.
Just 30 minutes later (while the game was still being played) the Football Association released a statement repeating their intentions to introduce technology as soon as possible following a meeting last week with the International Football Association Board…after Ivan Klasnic slotted home a late late winner for Bolton, QPR manager Mark Hughes was left fuming and slammed the FA:
“I think that’s absolutely ludicrous that they come out and try and protect the poor performances of the officials that they supply,” he said. “I think that’s a joke.
“Goal-line technology should come in. But until it comes in they should actually do the job that they’re supposed to do, which is check whether or not the ball has gone over the line.
“You can’t hide behind the fact there isn’t the technology to cover up a poor performance”.
“All we hope for is a level playing field so that. If we get beaten fairly and squarely we can hold our hands up. We’re big enough and brave enough to do that.” – Mark Hughes, QPR
With this incident fresh in our memories, and casting our minds back to other major examples of need for goal-line technology (Lampard vs Germany 2010 WC, Pedro Mendes vs Man Utd at Old Trafford 2005 and Geoff Hirst vs Germany 1966 WC) I am a believer the FA and FIFA need to act NOW and bring in Goal-Line Technology (GLT) for many important reasons.
With technology, comes respect
There is no doubt in my mind that the time for technology in football is NOW. If you asked managers in the Premier League and across the world if they would like to see GLT be introduced into the game I can assure you 99% would vote in favor. As a coach there is nothing more frustrating then working hard all week, covering every tactical nook and cranny in preparation of your opponent and making sure your players and team are ready to perform…only to be let down by an incorrect decision from the officials that could easily be amended with the help of technology - If you were to ask the same question to players I am sure the answers would be overwhelmingly similar to that of their managers.
The positives of introducing GLT to assist referee’s in what is one of the most crucial moments in football (ball crossing the line) are endless. Not only would the decision be 100% correct but it would also dove-tail with the FA’s and FIFA’s recent campaigns of respect in the game, and i think we can all agree that the respect in football especially towards referees and officials is just non-exsistent. Eradicating incidents like last weekend from the game gives the players and managers zero ammunition to fire abuse towards officials and allows them to conserve energy they waste on arguing with them, and concentrate fully on the task at hand…play football.
Ref’s need eyes in the back of their head…or Hawke-Eye?
When you think of Hawke-Eye you immediately think of the impact it has made in the sport of Tennis. The foundation of Hawke-Eye is built on it being “ACCURATE & INSTANT” and over the past 6 years some major developments have been made to make the use of this system “Football Specific”.
ACCURATE: Accuracy and reliability are certainly the most important criteria for establishing the Hawk-Eye Football System. The FA Premier League has stipulated that a goal-line system must be accurate to 5mm and Hawk-Eye has risen to the task.
INSTANT: It is vital that the desired information is communicated to the referee in a quick, discreet manner. The IFAB has stipulated that an “instant” system must be implemented: Hawk-Eye will provide an answer is less than 0.5 seconds.
The sheer accuracy and time is takes to formulate a decision for the referee dispels any doubts that Technology would slow down the game. The game would not have to stop and the message can be in the ear of the official in less then a second.
How Does It Work? As with all Hawk-Eye technology, every image is processed by a bank of computers in real time. This data is then sent to a central computer, which combines all the information to determine whether or not the ball has crossed the line. As soon as a ball has been tracked across the goal line, the central computer will transmit an automatic signal directly to the referee to inform him whether or not a goal has been scored. This information can be communicated to a watch or an ear piece as required.
Its interesting to note that a ball travelling at 60 mph will move one metre per video frame on standard broadcast cameras, which operate at 25 frames per second, so Hawk-Eye utilises cameras that can operate at up to 500 frames per second.
Would computers take away the “Beauty” from our beautiful game?
When Goal Line Technology is introduced could there be room for other uses of this powerful tool in football? One idea that has been mooted by some including Stoke City manager Tony Pulis is a “Challenge System” for managers if they disagree with a referees decision during a game. Pulis believes that it is possible to use television replays without slowing the flow of a match.
”If you give each manager one decision in each half that they can call to be reviewed in 30 seconds by replays upstairs so they can look at it and give it to the match official, I think that would help.
“The fourth official instead of standing on the line walking up and telling the manager he’s two inches outside the technical box he could be up there looking at things that are really, really important.
“Getting decisions right, I don’t care what anybody says, whatever team you follow, whatever team you don’t follow, you just want the correct decisions and if it (replays) help to do that then let’s do it.” – Tony Pulis, Stoke City
What Tony Pulis suggests is intriguing and below I have tried to mind map out how the “Coaches Challenge System” could potentially work during the game.
The Challenge System could be both revolutionary and a hot topic of discussion…but could it work? could it be implemented?
I believe an important factor in the possible development of this tool would be to have very clear parameters the process would work within such as A) How many challenges does a coach get during the course of a game? B) Can the coach challenge every decision the referee makes during the game? C) How is the play effected by the winning or losing of a challenge made by the coach?
A) The coach would have one challenge per half – for competitions that include extra time another challenge is given for this extra time period.
B) The coach can only challenge Referee decisions around; Fouls inside the penalty box, offsides and incidents involving players being sent off.
C) The game continues as normal while the challenge is being processed. If the coach challenge is unsuccessful then play would continue as per normal and the game has not been stopped – However if the challenge is successful then communication is made to referee to stop game (if the ball is in play and has continued) and award the appropriate decision (penalty/no penalty, on/offside or red/yellow card).
Love it or hate it technology is a big part of our modern life and if systems such as Hawke-Eye can provide 100% successful support for officials during games to avoid not only decisions that could have ramifications in promotion/relegation, progression/elimination and winning/losing competitions then it has to be looked at.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hawke-Eye technology could be introduced as early as next season into the Premier League, La Liga and other major top divisions. UEFA and FIFA competitions such as The Champions League, Euro’s and The World Cup can also adopt GLT.
Many argue that if GLT was introduced it has to be across the board, at all levels of the game. But does it? Is Hawke-Eye used at every Rugby clubs ground at all levels? is it used outside the major ATP Major Tour Events? The answer is no simply because not every club/stadium has the facilities & finance to house it. There would be no conflict of interest if say only the Premier League had Hawke-Eye…after all it is the “Premier” competition in the country and the shop window of English football across the globe.
Who knows what will happen with technology past GLT. Could a system like the “Coaches Challenge”be implemented within the next 5-10 years? I think the answer is with every year passing, with the pressures clubs, players and coaches are under to perform and keep their status/jobs then the case will only become stronger in favor of it.
For the purist out there afraid that if you bring in technology you will “have nothing to talk about down the pub” or “read in the papers” I leave you with the words of Tony Pulis;
“I don’t care what anybody says, whatever team you follow, whatever team you don’t follow, you just want the correct decisions and if it (replays) help to do that then let’s do it.”
*For more information on how Hawke-Eye functions please check www.hawkeyeinnovations.co.uk*