Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCrossing The Line - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Crossing The Line - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Crossing The Line

What’s your defining memory of the 2010 World Cup? The only truly great game of the tournament being a completely dead heat between Uruguay and Germany? The balls on Asamoah Gyan to step up and score the first penalty of a shoot-out after missing a last minute spot-kick which would have seen the first African side reach the World Cup semi-finals ever? Ummmmm, that’s about it, can’t really think of many others, wasn’t exactly a classic tournament.

FIFA’s defining memory of it was the realisation that goal-line technology must happen immediately after the Frank Lampard ‘goal’ debacle (in the game where The Sun was convinced England would have gone on to win, despite the fact they were beaten by a team consisting of a bunch of kids and Per Mertesacker).

Anywho, last month, FIFA invited any company who wished to try their hand at the Holy Grail of goal-line technology in football and last week, the trials took place. Unsurprisingly, every single company failed to meet the criteria set by FIFA.

The criteria were two fold; firstly, to be 100% accurate and secondly, to be capable of informing the match officials within one second of the event happening. To be completed in a month. Tough task. Furthermore, the tests were hardly realistic as they were conducted in an empty stadium, so no mobile phone interference and crowd noise, and on an artificial pitch. Little wonder the company most advanced in this form of technology, Hawk-Eye who has conducted extensive stadium testing at Reading, chose to sit this trial out.

Still, FIFA would be nowhere if it didn’t plough on with its agenda regardless of public opinion and facts, so the next stage of the process will be goal-line technology being discussed at the meeting of the International Football Association Board at Celtic Manor next week. Incidentally, check out the agenda for this meeting just to confirm your faith that FIFA is tackling the real issues in modern football, such as the shape of the goalposts, how far advertising hoardings can be from the pitch and snoods, inspiring stuff that must take place at a luxury hotel and golf course, I’m sure you will agree; (

But let’s not make this into an anti-FIFA rant; it’s been done before and the argument for goal-line technology being placed in football is pretty indisputable these days. The fact that technology has been used so successfully in so many other sports kills the debate stone-dead; a points decision in favour of technology.

However, technology could well ruin a fundamental pillar of the popularity of sport, the fact that in pure rules terms, it is the only sport in the world that is played exactly the same at the highest level as it is at the lowest level. Fernando Torres plays by the same rules on the Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge as Big Dave does on the Sunday morning on Hackney Marshes. Same pitch dimensions, same number of players, same goal sizes and so on.

The costs of goal-line technology mean that there will inevitably be a level of the football pyramid where the implementation of technology has to stop. Incidentally if FIFA made it in to law by the way, would they pay for the costs of installing it at the relevant levels? Or would it be left to clubs to foot the bill?

This would inevitably break the one remaining link from the very top of football to the very bottom that has been steadily eroded since professionalism emerged in football; the beautiful last remaining linkage between Fernando Torres and Big Dave would be gone and football would be a much less wonderful sport for it, though a loss of beauty and innocence is the price often paid for progress.

You can follow Dan on Twitter at!/Dan_Whiteway

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