Archive for June 27th, 2010

It had to happen sometime and it happened in the highest profile match of the tournament so far.

The controversial decision not to award a goal when England midfielder Frank Lampard’s lob rebounded from the crossbar and crossed the goal line has re-ignite the whole question of goal line technology and video replays.

I say goal line technology and video replays because I believe the two things are very different.

Goal line technology, if it can be perfected to send a direct signal to the referee in the space of at least two seconds, must be now considered.

I have been involved in the concept of goal line technology for almost 20 years at the Scottish Football Association, the International FA Board and FIFA.

I have seen demonstrations by a number of inventors. Some ideas involved blasting the goal with a number of laser beams – hardly a safe environment for the goalkeeper.

Others involved chip technology where each match ball had a chip inserted and so its exact position could be determined at all times, including when it crossed the goal line.

The trials of this technology were not so successful during the 2008 FIFA World Youth Championships in Chile. When a second ball was mistakenly thrown on by a ball boy the system could not register it and the system had to recalibrate.

adidas and Cairos, the development company involved, decided that more research was needed after the 2008 experience.

In tennis, the Hawkeye system has become a well accepted system in the Grand Slam tournaments.

With the encouragement of the Football Association, it had refined the system for use in football and the suggestions were that it had potential.

At the International FA Board meeting in 2010, however, FIFA stated that it did not wish to proceed with any form of video technology, and after a split vote its views were accepted.

It did give approval for the proposal of UEFA President, Michel Platini, to have an addition two assistants on each goal line to go ahead as an experiment in the UEFA Europa Cup Competition.

In my opinion, the decision to reject goal line technology was taken too soon.

Both Hawkeye and adidas/Cairos had redefined and developed their systems and they should have been given more time to prove their value.

I go back to my original point, however. Any system must be self standing and give a direct indication to the referee within a few seconds.

It is only possible also in national leagues with large amounts of finance available to install the selected system in every stadium or in major tournaments such as the World Cup.

I said earlier that video replays were a different matter.

I am strongly against the use of video replays since that takes us into a much wider argument.

More of that tomorrow.

This blog was posted just as Argentina scored its first goal in the match against Mexico.

Need I say more!

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There were some interesting Items for discussion on the Agenda for the Annual General Meeting of the International FA Board in London in February 2004.

First of all it was a special meeting of the IFAB, attended for the first time by the full FIFA Executive Committee in recognition of the FIFA Centenary and also in recognition that the modern game has its roots in England.

The Football Association was the first association to be formed in 1863, followed by the Scottish FA in 1873, the Football Association of Wales in 1876 and the Irish Football Association in 1880.

They met as the International FA Board, in 1886 to draw up the Laws which would apply to all football.

FIFA, which was founded in 1904, joined the Board in 1913.

The IFAB is the world’s oldest international football body and still acts as a highly effective guardian of the Laws of the Game.

Note that football is governed by the Laws of the Game and not rules – a throwback to the early days of the game.

But back to the meeting in 2004.

One Item for Discussion to be considered was Radio Communication Systems and FIFA reported favourably on the system which had been used in the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2003. The Scottish FA also reported that it a communications system had been successfully used in the Scottish Premier League.

The Board ‘recognised that this technology could make a positive contribution to match control but it was also recognised that such a system must only be used for communication between the match officials and must not be used for broadcasting purposes’

No live coverage of the referees comments, such as we hear in rugby, was to be allowed.

We are used to seeing refereeing teams wired up for matches in leagues and competitions all over the world but it was only in 2004 that this received full approval from the IFAB.

Interestingly, it is not possible to use this equipment in some countries, such as Japan, because of national legal restrictions on the use of short wave radio frequencies.

Another item on the Agenda, raised by the Football Association, was whether the use of electronic advertising boards around the field was too distracting for players and officials. The matter was referred to a sub-committee to investigate but it correctly decided that the type of board used for advertising was not a part of the Laws of the Game and was therefore out of the remit of the IFAB.

So today we accept the referee communication system as the norm and the electronic advertising boards are also a normal part of top level football.

With their ability to be programmed to show a large number of adverts throughout the match, they are also highly lucrative.

Distracting? Hardly in the same league as vuvuzelas!

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