Football Goal-line Technology and the Need for Aspirins

Having watched all the thousands of people gathered in front of big screens across cities such as Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Montevideo, Rio, Tokyo, London and Cape Town during this World Cup, it led me to one of those ‘should have, would have, could have’ moments: “I should have bought shares in aspirins.” [ad#as3]

Whether all those people dancing in the streets are celebrating or commiserating, one thing is for sure, there are going to be some serious headaches the morning after the night before.

Just for kicks, I had a look at a major brand on the London Stock Exchange, and for some bizarre reason their share prices have plummeted since the start of June. So maybe I was lucky not to have bought some? Not that that makes any sense. After all, the fans aren’t the only ones who will have needed the odd pain-killer here and there over the last few weeks.

The whole French Federation, management team, players and pilots must have used enough to fill the Eiffel Tower alone after all their shenanigans, while Rooney, Capello, Cannavaro, Dunga, Ronaldo, Drogba and Maradona could all have used a few to ease their respective pains. Scratch Maradona – not strong enough for him, I guess.

Some will have needed them a lot earlier than June, too. FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter is one who immediately springs to mind. Ever since it was announced the World Cup was heading to Africa for the first time, Blatter must have had migraine after migraine as he defended questions of corruption, safety, stadia, accommodation, infrastructure and tickets. Having overcome (or avoided) those hurdles, the big kick-off then came with more criticism over vuvuzelas and the controversial Jabulani ball. Players hated both, the media loved them for the stories they generated and fans spoke with their credit cards (which must have eased Blatter’s pain somewhat).

Just when he thought he’d got away with it, a deep, lingering pain long thought to have been cured re-emerged to upset the system – the introduction of modern technology on big decisions.

FIFA has always held the view that if technology cannot be used at all levels – ie on the Sunday league parks and grass roots – then it shouldn’t be used at all. As the meerkat would say, “Simples.” Unfortunately for Blatter and co., it’s not quite as simple as that anymore. With the use of Hawk-Eye and similar technology successfully introduced in sports such as tennis and cricket, and with the challenge system a popular feature in the NFL, questions were asked before the World Cup started as to when FIFA would allow their use in big competitions such as the Champions League and on its grandest stage.

Having shot those calls down yet again in a meeting in March, FIFA has now been forced to revisit their backward thinking logic following the shambolic officiating in the Germany-England game and later that afternoon with Argentina-Mexico. Blatter apologised to the England and Mexican Associations, but it’s no use locking the stable after the horse has already bolted.

Even the most basic technology has been available to FIFA for the last 30 or 40 years, and you’d have thought that something would have been done after the “was it, wasn’t it?” controversy in the 1966 World Cup final between England and West Germany. That was 44 years ago, with people watching in black and white – that’s if there even was a tele.

To say times have moved on since then is an insult to understatements. For Blatter not to accept the need for this kind of controversy to end is an insult to everyone.

Back to the aspirins, Sepp, your headaches are going to get much worse. I might just buy those shares after all.


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