Let’s go back 2 years, at the last world cup, with Germany in the lead, Frank Lampard puts his sizeable weight behind a shot. It hammers the crossbar, bounces well over the line, and comes back out. Referee’s assistant, whether blind, not giving a shit, not seeing or merely thinking about the brown paper bag he would be getting later didn’t give it. England was in uproar and once again we revisited the whole goal line technology debate. Sepp Blatter mumbled something about maybe looking into it but that it wasn’t a priority. 2 years later, Ukraine, losing 1 nil to England in the group stage, take a shot, the deflection loops it up into the center of the goal. England’s no 6, and designated wife shagger, lumbers back and clears the ball, but it probably was over the line before he did so. Even with 5 bumbling fools on the pitch to spot it this time, they failed to do so. Sepp Blatter cannot believe this travesty and feels that goal line technology is now a necessity.
You’re not exactly subtle are you Sepp? As an England fan, I’ll be the first to admit that it probably should have been allowed if you look at it from the ball crossing the line angle alone, however to compare this to the England vs Germany game is ridiculous; and to suggest England only went through because of that goal being disallowed, is so ridiculously blinkered that the particular horse is crashing his way through the car park as we speak. I don’t just say that as a biased England fan either…. at least I don’t think I do.
Let’s go back to the England vs Germany game. Germany started off well, and took a 2 nil lead before Upson pulled one back. With 37 minutes gone, Lampard had a shot that hit the underside of the bar, then bounced inside the goal. It was not just over either, it was at least 2 ball-widths past the line (I resisted the urge to say 2 balls deep…. oh wait DOH…); then it bounced back out. This wasn’t a case of being a matter of inches, this ball was well over. It also happened in the knock stages, just before half time, and during a period of England pressure. Go in 2 all at half time and its game on for the second half, with the winner going through, and even a draw leading to extra time and penalties.
Some will say “but Germany went on to win 4-1 what would that one goal matter?” Timing of goals is almost as important as the scoring of the goals themselves. If that had counted, England would have had 8 more minutes to attack the Germans, who would no doubt have been somewhat shell-shocked at losing their early commanding lead. Even if they didn’t manage it, England go into the dressing room at half time knowing they have Germany on the back foot, whilst Germany will be wondering just how they had managed to mess this up, and whether they would be able to win. Instead, the England team went in at half time knowing they had been hard done by, whilst the Germans went in knowing they were fortunate. More to the point, England had to come out and attack and that left the space for Germany to counter attack and get those two further goals. Would that space have been there had it been 2 all? Unlikely.
So let’s compare that to what happened yesterday. Ukraine, having conceded a 48th minute goal, knew that they had to score 2 goals to go through. They went on the offensive and one shot looped off a defender and made its way towards the goal where Terry proceeded to clear it. Now replays show that it was almost definitely completely over the line. Technically even if one gnat’s pubic hair width of the ball is in line with the innermost part of the line, its not a goal. However, let’s just say, for argument’s sake that it did cross the line. Here was an incident that is a lot harder to spot than the goal 2 years ago, this relies on a split second decision on something that was literally a matter of millimetres. This wasn’t as obvious as missing a ball that had bounced about a foot over the line.
Now, what a lot of commentators seem to fail to notice is that, go back to the initial ball played in from deep in the Ukraine half, and the player receiving it was himself offside. So if you were to allow goal line technology, and the goal had stood, the uproar would have been that an offside goal had been allowed because one technology ruled in favour (correctly) of one team, whilst human error ruled against (in error) the other team. So would that have been fair? Hardly.
Even if you were to ignore those facts, the situation couldn’t really have been any different. At least not in terms of England going through to the next round. Had Ukraine scored, it would have been 1-1 all. That result would have changed nothing. England would have gone through top, and France would have been runners up. Ukraine would still have had to score one more, whilst England would know that a draw is enough. If any of those teams would have looked to pressure it would have been Ukraine. That always leaves the possibility of a counter attack.
Of course, any team that suffers a goal or has a goal disallowed incorrectly will feel aggrieved, and maybe goal line technology does need to be added. However, it just annoys me that just because it happens to be England benefiting, suddenly Sepp Blatter decides that the issues is a necessity. I personally am torn between allowing goal line technology and leaving it as is. I personally do like that element of human error. Its annoying as hell when it happens against your team, but when it happens in your favour you don’t exactly cry about it. On the other hand goal line technology is a simple addition, and could resolve something that seems to be happening more and more often.
However, where exactly do you stop? If they had allowed goal line technology here, and the goal had been allowed, would England have had a right to feel aggrieved when you go back and realise it came from an offside anyway? Do you then allow rugby style technology, with every goal with a hint of iffyness being referred upstairs? Replays do not effect a rugby game as much as football because a rugby game is littered with stop starts, a ruck, a maul, a scrum, a lineout. For all of those the time is stopped, and when a dodgy try is scored, stopping it whilst the kicked gets his kick ready is not really bothering the flow of the game so much.