By Sean Goff | Sports Reporter
FIFA are on the brink of revolutionising world football with the long-awaited introduction of goal-line technology (GLT).
It is estimated the move will eliminate pub fights and reduce the workload of TV pundits by about 90 per cent if soccer’s world governing body gives it the go-ahead.
GLT has become a buzzword as the beautiful game has fallen behind every other sport on the planet as contentious decisions set father against son, brother against brother, led nations into decades of military and diplomatic conflict and generally ruined a good night out.
The problem was first highlighted in the 1966 World Cup final when Geoff Hurst’s ‘goal’ was awarded by the linesmen as host nation England took a 3-2 lead in extra-time before going on to beat a demoralised German side 4-2 in a famous triumph.
TV’s were in black or white back then and had to be switched on by hand – an act repeated if you also wanted to change one of the four or five channels you received, provided the wind was blowing in the right direction.
England got the benefit of the doubt that day but the crafty Germans waited until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa to pull a ‘Hurst’ on a stonewall Frank Lampard goal and advance to the semi-finals. The English FA were roused from their slumber and began to call for the introduction of GLT to match technological developments in other sports.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was initially wary ‘saying it would slow the game down’ ignoring the 15-minute charade of chasing the referee around the pitch before ganging up on the linesman who at certain stadiums was half-a-mile-away, wearing glasses and it was foggy.
In certain Latin American countries the antics lasted for days and had fiestas named in their honour.
Blatter changed his tune in later years to protect his job and was vocal again when Serbia were ‘denied’ an equaliser against England at Euro 2012. But UEFA head buck Michel Platini is still not convinced and speaking from a cave outside Marseilles he now shares with Eric Cantona said:
I am wholly against goal-line technology. But it’s not just goal-line technology. I am against technology itself because it will invade every single area of football.
While Platini appears to be in the minority (thankfully) GLT will not be used in UEFA-controlled Champions League matches while this mindset remains.
FIFA’s decision to embrace GLT or remain a laughing stock is due on Thursday. Although it’s a welcome development, it comes too late for this season’s Premier League.
Either way it has pushed the debate to the forefront of world football and some movement should be seen on whether to approve GLT or refer to a committee for a decision at a later date.
The vast majority of football fans – bar the pundits’ union – hopes it will come sooner rather than later.