KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Words and phrases such as “momentous decision” and “great day for football” flowed freely in the wake of goal-line technology’s approval by football’s lawmakers.
The eight votes of the International Football Association Board – one each of the British home associations, four on behalf of world federation – were cast unanimously in favour of stepping into a brave new world.
Unanimous decisions were also cast in favour of the five-officials system which came under particular but not fatal scrutiny at Euro 2012, and the new ‘safety headscarf’ for Muslim women players.
However the goal-line technology decision was the major issue. This was arguably the most significant decision taken since the change in the offside law in the early 1920s.
In the short term, it will offer more public relations clout on behalf of the game’s leaders than practical effect. Goal-line dispute are few and far between and very few leagues, initially, will be able to afford the $250,000-per-club installations.
FIFA’s own Club World Cup, in Japan in December, will be the first public outing for the two systems which emerged triumphant from the rigourous testing process undertaken by the Swiss technology institute EMPA.
The systems are camera-based Hawkeye – a name already familiar in the world’s of top-level tennis and cricket – and the German/Danish GoalRef collaboration; the latter system is sensor-based.
Now that IFAB has said Yes, however, it is likely that many more technology companies with an eye to business will develop systems of their own. This is expected to help push down the price so that, in time, GLT is in use in a significant number of leagues.
FIFA is planning also to use goal-line technology in Brazil at the Confederations Cup next summer and then at the World Cup finals in 2014.
It could also use the five-officials system – which was also approved after three years of experimentation in European club competitions, Morocco, France and Brazil. As Alex Horne, chief executive of England’s Football Association, pointed out, the systems fulfil different tasks.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general who led a press conference following the IFAB meeting, said it was too early to consider.
Any league or federation which wishes to use a GLT system should go direct to the companies to negotiate installation time and price, maintenance costs etc. Each individual stadium installation would need to undergo a FIFA quality test before being approved for ‘match action.’
Patrick Nelson, from the Irish Football Association, said: “The IFAB has been around since 1886 and has worked slowly, consertively and carefully to improve the game on a worldwide basis and the three decisions today will be long-lasting and will resonate throughout the world. We look forward to their implementation over the coming months and years.”
Jonathan Ford, from the FA of Wales, said: “This board has made some good, fundamental and momentous decisions here today.”
Anything which could assist the referee had to be positive, said Stewart Regan of the Scottish FA who considered this to have been “a historic day.” Regan emphasised that the decision was approval of the fact-foremost goal-line technology only.
He and his IFAB colleagues reiterated on a number of occasions that this was not, as feared by UEFA president Michel Platini, the opening of a dangerous door to pressure for a widening of technological assistance for offside or penalty decisions.
England’s FA has made no secret, for many years – before the Lampard incident in 2010 – of its impatience for the arrival of GLT.
Hence general secretary Alex Horne thought this “a hugely important day.” He added: “It’s a cause we’ve had on our agenda for a number of years . . . so the rigour we’ve given it is entirely right. It’s a great step for football to see that enter into the laws of the game.
“But it’s not appropriate for technologyto creep out into anywhere else on field of play which woould undermine the job of the referee. Goal-line technology is where it stops.”
To this extent, said Horne, IFAB was acknowledging the concerns about ‘technology creep’ which had been expressed by Platini and his UEFA executive committee in Kiev last weekend.
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