Get the Hawk outta Here

Why I Hope the SPL will never introduce Goal-Line Technology

By Johnny Connelly

Hawkeye camera
Coming to a match near you? The Premiership has given the nod to Hawkeye

So Hawkeye’s revolutionary goal-line technology is to be introduced to the self-proclaimed ‘best league in the world’ – Let’s hope it doesn’t creep over the border.

It feels as though the beautiful game is slipping further and further away from the romantic notion of the sport that traditionalists love and hold dear. This latest challenge to the integrity and flow of the game comes as an unwelcomed addition, in my opinion at least.

A day at the football is unparalleled when it comes to the fast-paced, high-energy, passionate encompassing of sportsmen and 10’s of thousands of fans exerting themselves for 90 minutes. It’s exhilarating. It’s enthralling. It’s football! And it’s exactly the way it should be.

Compare the magnificence that is football with the likes of cricket, tennis, or rugby. What sets our beloved game apart from lesser sports is the flow of the game. The introduction of goal-line technology will only hamper that. The days of referees having to make split second decisions to judge if the ball is over the line would be a thing of the past. Needless pauses in football are kept to a minimum by design for the good of the game. Yet now, we’d be actively encouraging such things!

When we’re fully integrated with the concept of goal-line technology, what comes next? Where else could we implement technology to ‘improve’ our game? How long before we question the purpose of referees at all? Would we write off the latest officiating innovation of goal-line assistants? And linesmen! Would we replace them with automated machines that run the line for us with a 0% chance of error? It’s a scary train of thought to meander down.

While we’re on the subject of officials; what would be left for our referees and linesmen to aspire to if big decisions like debatable goals were decided by technology? Football needs top referees. The development of officials is just as important as the development of players. What must they be thinking just now? To become the next Pierluigi Collina, youngsters must work incredibly hard. Their fitness must be on a par with that of a top player, and they must know every nook and cranny of the rule book. This won’t be the case if we start to lean on technology to enforce the rules and make the big calls. The refereeing aspect of football would be in serious danger of floundering before our very eyes.

Off the field it’d create problems too. Being a football fan is a 24/7 occupation. The fans live and breathe the game. A single match lasts but 90 minutes, so it’s a long wait between the full time whistle and the following Saturday’s kick off. To fill the void, the game needs talking points. Pundits, colleagues, and friends alike will endlessly debate things like whether the striker was offside, whether the player handled the ball, and of course, if the ball was indeed, over the line. The introduction of goal-line technology will make the “was it or wasn’t it in” talking point all but extinct. Further delving into technological advances in football will chip away at our other talking points, until we’re left with nothing but speculative conjecture to exchange on the way home from work, the pub, or the stadium.

As much as football is resplendent with examples of skill, camaraderie, and a sense of justice when the Goliaths of the game are somehow toppled by the plucky little Davids; we cannot discount or ignore some of football’s historical events that were in direct violation of the rulebook. As Scots, we’re painfully reminded all too often that England won the World Cup back in 1966, all thanks to a dubious Geoff Hurst goal.

Yet in the same breath, they’ve suffered heartbreak when Frank Lampard’s long range effort was disallowed against Germany in 2010, and who could forget that famous time when a little Argentinean relied on, as he alluded to, some divine intervention to topple England in 1986?

Can you imagine football without incidents like those? Surely over the course of time the decisions balance themselves out.

So what if goal-line technology would ‘right a few wrongs’ in terms of goals being awarded? Doesn’t the best team always win the league every year anyway?

Removing the potential for human error in the game is removing the simplistic beauty of the game itself.  If football was supposed to be perfect, there’d be no need for yellow & red cards, offsides, penalties, stoppage time, or any of the other subtle little nuances and imperfections that make our game what it is… absolutely brilliant!


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