Football in the Future!

Football in the Future!

Alongside discussions regarding an elite European league, salary caps and home grown/foreign player quotas, there is one subject that is guaranteed to spark debate among football fans: Should video/goal line technology be introduced to football?
In my opinion, for what little it is worth, it should not only be introduced but it should be embraced and cherished. There are many supporters of video technology and it’s introduction into the sport, including Wenger himself and unsurprisingly, like the boss, most of these advocates are in high-pressure roles where poor decisions by a referee can cost them trophies, European qualification, Premiership status and a whole host of extremely valuable things.
Speaking back in 2006 Wenger had this to say:
“In France they have created a system on television where they can see 100% if the ball crossed the line,” he said. “Technologically it is easy to do now. Suddenly we have a situation where everyone but the referee can see the ball is over the line.”
“One man has not seen it so the world has to accept it. You can add three or more linesmen and it won’t change anything, but you can add nobody and check if the ball is over the line or not. But if there are situations where you are sure that if you look at a video you see if it is in or not in, why do we refuse to use that? It is not stubbornness, it is stupidity.”
“I feel there are some sports that go with modern time and some that stubbornly refuse. No one has given me an explanation. To say to me it was done like that in 1920 is not good enough, it is as simple as that.”
Given the wide range of technology that could be introduced I think it’s best to focus on a few distinct introductions. The first step is goal line technology, which has already been developed to a very high level by Adidas who tested their Adidas Teamgeist II Intelligent Football at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007. Since then they have continued to develop the ball and the accuracy of the results. I would like to see this technological introduction extended to include the other touchlines to determine whether the ball has gone out of play.
Further to these additions in our game, I think that offside decisions should be decided by computer software. From the technology used by major TV broadcasters, it is clear that the players can be mapped on the pitch with a line perpendicular to the touchlines representing the defensive line and then another parallel line representing the attacker. If this technology can be introduced at a standard whereby the mapping/simulation of the play happens in what is practically real-time, then I think it would greatly improve the sport.
The aforementioned decisions all have something in common in that they are subject to the laws of physics. They are governed by rules that are not a matter of interpretation; you could present them in formulas. I think we are a long way from being able to decide scientifically whether a foul is a foul or not and whether it’s a penalty. Suggestions of a panel of judges watching TV replays is all a bit much to think of at the moment, given our current reluctance to embrace technology.
There are a few key arguments against goal line and video technology that I’m sure some of you will happily put forward and I’d like to consider some of them now:
Firstly you don’t want to see our game slowed down and time taken up by decision-making.
Sure I understand, that’s why I don’t want a panel of judges going over every decision and challenges to those decisions and so on. The key is to ensure that these technologies run as close to real time as possible and those delays are kept to a minimum. Surely it wouldn’t be too time consuming to have a noise go off in the referee’s earpiece to indicate a goal? In a sport where the ball is not in play for the whole 45 minutes of each half; where goal celebrations and protests of decisions provide enough of a window for conclusions to be drawn through technological means. Players such as our own Eboue dive and roll around on the floor for minutes on end! This is far more annoying to put up with than the time taken to make a correct decision.
Secondly there is the argument that computers aren’t perfect, glitches and hacking etc. etc.
Ok, first lets just say that referees are far from perfect! They are capable of biases, however slight, as Italy shows us time and time again, they are open to bribes and they are only human after all. Clearly humans are quite impressive organisms so allow me to clarify that I’m not just talking about the occasional misjudgement or mistake that is possible but also the demands physically to be in the right place at the right time with a clear view of every incident. Superman would struggle! Perhaps freeing them of this responsibility (is the ball still in play? is it a goal? is it offside?) would improve their capacity to be in the right place to make other decisions regarding fouls and penalties etc. Assistant referees would not be rendered obsolete by this technology but rather handed new responsibilities in terms of acting as additional referees. As for hacking and glitches, there are numerous computer systems that exist around the world that are secure. I am not anything like an expert on this, but given the money thrown around at the top of this sport, creating a secure system is not beyond the game.
Finally there is the argument that football is an old sport and that changes are bad. There is also the complaint that this technology will not be available beyond the top tiers of football.
Other equally old sports have embraced technology so I don’t think the age of this sport has much to do with this debate. We also still make changes all the time to the rules regarding offside and other things like whether a goalie can pick the ball up, how long he can hold the ball, how many subs you can use on a bench. The list of changes that have been made to the sport is endless and will continue to grow. As for lower levels of the sport, of course the cost of such a system will be prohibitive. And obviously in other sports the same divide exists. I wonder though, whether the technology would trickle down. Much like other things that the top clubs have embraced like scoreboards, floodlights, under soil heating and so on.
There is one further piece of technology that I would like to see introduced and that is a microphone on a referee. It works extremely well in Rugby, decisions are clearer and punishments are well explained. The most important element of this introduction would be that players and clubs would be heavily fined for swearing at the referee and consequently on live TV. I believe that it is about time for the sport to take a really hard line on this to clean up its image.
We have all seen the relatively successful introduction of technology into Tennis, Cricket, Rugby and other sports. There are obviously still arguments for and against whether these games have been improved. However, in my mind, making sure that the physical laws that govern a sport are applied is an improvement. In the future of football, technology has a huge role to play to ensure that these rules are applied.
By The Brady Bunch.

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