It may have taken lot of controversy and a few magnums of champagne to flow under the bridge, but finally it has happened. After Ukraine were denied a goal thanks to John Terry’s chasing a lost cause and the pointless extra referee’s failing eyesight, Sepp Blatter has been stung into action.
With England enjoying the benefit of the glaring error, the controversial FIFA president (76) has spoken about the need to introduce goal-line technology, for once with the authority that suggests it might finally happen. Strange that.
Talk of a UEFA/FIFA anti-English conspiracy feel a little bit ‘the Royal Family are lizards’, but this sudden change of attitude, along with some other curious utterings, make it feel like England benefitting from an error is the tipping point.
“After last night’s match GLT (goal-lie technology) is no longer an alternative but a necessity,” Blatter tweeted in the aftermath of Tuesday’s match, with a resolve that belies his previous ‘not particularly arsed’ stance.
The sudden about-face on the issue of goal-line technology does fan the flames of the conspiracy fire. For so long the FIFA President seemed happy to emphasise the importance of the “human face” in the officiating of matches. Even when that human face was responsible for booking a player three times before sending him off or not seeing Thierry Henry play basketball en route to the World Cup.
When Frank Lampard’s shot crashed against the German crossbar in 2010, landing closer to row A in the stands than the goal-line, the discrepancy was treated with the political equivalent of an indifferent shrug.
At European level, it’s also hard to ignore Michel Platini’s lining up of the Premier League in his crosshair. His Financial Fair Play model is laudable, but it’s timing is curious as no-one seemed to mind when the Spanish and Italian giants were allowed to run up huge debts and benefit from the coffers of wealthy patrons.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s La Liga and Serie A’s leading lights could splash the cash with little consequence. Once Manchester City start doing it, it’s suddenly something that needs to be addressed. In fairness, much the inaction was done under former UEFA president, Lennart Johansson’s watch, but it doesn’t help the feeling of victimisation.
Ultimately, FIFA’s move towards goal-line is the right thing to do. Sadly, it was also the right thing to do about five years ago.