Technologies? No, thanks. It’s a matter of time

In my Human eye vs. “Hawk-Eye” post last week I gave an example of a technology that is used in tennis when there is doubt about a ball having dropped down on the line or outside the field. It will provide us with an animated video showing with a 3-6mm accuracy where the ball hit the ground.

The soccer view on “Hawk-Eye”

As I announced 2 weeks ago, today I will take a look at a sport that is having trouble with controversy decision-making by referees but technology measures are not taken on to avoid such situations. In soccer there as been since 2005 an on-going discussion about different ways of goal-tracking in order to prevent decisions like this one here:

The issue here is not that there is no way to solve the problem of the fact that the referee just cannot overview approx. 7,000m2  to 10,000m2 and always make 100% right calls. It is rather that there have been invented various technologies like Hawk-Eye and the Goal-Line technology but they are not yet officially used.

Goal-Line technology postponed (again…)

As blogger Tim states in his post the FA (Football Association) postponed the introduction of Goal-Line technology for another year.

WHY      IS     THAT  ?!

Different than in tennis the problem of the introduction and establishment seems not to lie in financing these new technologies but there are different issues which Tim comments in his post.

FIFA is against the introduction of Hawk-Eye arguing that it would slow down the flow of the game, insisting that referee decision must be taken within 5 seconds.

But Hawk-Eye confirmed that their technology is able to deliver a clear signal within only half a second, Tim declares.

Next disadvantage of Hawk-Eye, FIFA claims, is accuracy. They point out that the technology is not able to deliver 100% exact results and as long as this cannot be guaranteed they do not see its real use.

But FIFA’s referees are not 100% accurate either, Tim insists.

Others argue that the introduction of technology would undermine the referee’s authority.

Bloggers MikeSA, JV Mauer come up with a thesis: the reason why FIFA refuses to introduce technology is corruption. It would not be as “easy” to manipulate games and results if the referee were no longer the only person on the field to take decisions but there was actually an additional system that had to be hacked in, in order to maybe manipulate reviews. Also the whole betting industry could suffer from this.

They need to backup their income and are inveigled to take money for influencing the match outcome.

Dan Popescuestablishes in his blog the stand of referees pointing out the issue for German referees. The German federation does not have professional referees and if they repeatedly make mistakes, they might no longer be nominated for a next match. This puts a lot of pressure on  them because they always have to fear not to get a next job.

What Dan suggests referring to an article is that referees need professional contracts. 

Not taking any action, soccer is loosing its credibility. T-Town states that there a not many sports where referees have the complete power to decide games and at the same time are known for frequent questionable calls without facing any repercussion.

Only recently FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 Goal-Line technology will be introduced. But people like Sam from Canada says:

All smoke and mirrors until there’s video replays. Nobody is fooled, Blatter“

After such a long period of “on” and “off” Goal-Line technology this is a quite understandable reaction to such an announcement, I think.

Final call for Hawk-Eye and Goal-Line technology

And as I was asked by Lucas in my last post for a statement, now having looked at two different sports from different perspectives, I will tell you: I can understand people arguing that the implementation of such technologies would have an impact on the “human element” of the game because they fear that legendary debates with the referees about wrong calls will no longer exist. And that this takes a lot of fun out of the game. But in my opinion I don’t see the point as I watch sports for the joy of the game and not for the fights going on around the actual match. To me they are rather disturbing.

And also the time issue is just no argument for me, I would love to know if there is any data available from test matches that actually proves that the flow of the game is not given anymore. What about all those players who are severely injured during the match, the opponent gets a penalty and suddenly the injured experiences only seconds later a miraculous healing and gets back into the game.

I cannot understand why they have been refusing technology for such a long time now. These days, a lot of sports have been adapted to using technologies as supportive element. And even if the technology is not a 100% accurate yet, one needs to try it out in order to find out where difficulties are that could be improved. It is an on-going process of further development. The first car was not the fastest and most efficient in the world either.

Now, I am inviting you to give your opinion on this topic. Is there anything I haven’t mentioned yet that you find important enough to be added here? Are you maybe also fearing that soccer might loose its spirit as well?

Leave a comment


  1. Lucas

     /  2011/12/23

    From this colorful debate on top you could already tell that you are supporting the technologies, which is totally legit.
    I don’t know why FA and FIFA state such a crab! Of course a hawk-eye decision doesn’t take more than 5 seconds, and of course they would be adding to the referee’s accuracy and please let’s not talk about the price either because FIFA is extraordinarily rich!
    I still agree with inaccuracy of the technology. After every bad call everyone is screaming out for the technology but it’s crude still. It takes a long test drive to improve the mistakes of the technology and IF FIFA is actually going to implement it in 2014 the test drive has probably already begun somewhere.
    I would not like to talk about the corruption topic. I mean there has been cases and probably more than there have been investigated but I don’t think you should say that soccer is ruled by it but still the betting frequency would suffer a lot by the technology I guess.
    In the end there is probably more pros than cons. I am simply afraid that such a technology is taking out the emotion of a game and I’m not talking about fight here. That’s Ice Hockey and apparently they have technologies.

    Is it really necessary to implement technology everywhere possible? Isn’t this world ruled by technology enough?

    • tennisanika

       /  2011/12/24

      I don’t think the world is “ruled” by technology. I see technology as an incredible progress in any sector. If we had no people researching for new technologies that facilitate our everyday-lives, life would be less comfortable. I think it is just the way of development the world is taking and it is hard to distinguish between sectors where it is clearly necessary (healthcare) and others where we could resign on technology (sports).
      This is also an ethical/ philosophic question (do we NEED life-prolonging technologies in healthcare?)

      But to come back to the argument that such technologies might take out the emotion of the game. Why do you think so? Technology= no emotion? what about entertainment devices such as Playstation, X-Box etc.? no fun, no emotions while playing?

      I think a reasonable implementation of technologies in sports like soccer do no harm at all to the game. It simply makes is more fair. To me personally, it is VERY important that a match is fair. If my team scores a goal, I want the goal to be acknowledged.
      So, I would argue its not about whether to implement goal-line rather HOW to integrate it into the game. There should be clearly designed rules how it is used. In tennis for example, you can challenge the ball (ask the umpire for hawk-eye view of the balls’ trajectory) only 2 or 3 times per match.

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  3. LL

     /  2012/02/11

    Hey Annika,
    You asked for an opinion so I will give you mine. As an athlete competing for more than a decade I can just say that the lack of complete control makes a game exciting.
    It has to be seen as a kind of skill to hide certain actions from the referee and to act in certain way to achieve advantages for your team.
    Well is that fair, probably not and I can understand that people do not accept this as an argument for the highest leagues because these games are connected to a lot of money. But I think for people it will take away the excitement because if you want to see a 100% fair and undisputable game you probably should watch chess tournaments.


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