In news that isn’t quite as big as it was initially reported to be, Wembley will host a high-profile live testing session for goal-line technology in eight days’ time.
Hawk-Eye will be trialed during the friendly match between England and Belgium on June 2nd, bringing us yet another baby-step closer to the now inevitable encroachment of goal-line technology into football. After initially being mentioned on Twitter by a 24-hour rolling sports news television channel as goal-line tech being in place for the game, it is in fact only being tested and the match officials will be none the wiser.
The labyrinthine debate about goal-line technology has been done to death, but only one side of it gets genuine exposure. Driven by those with a vested interest, the pro-technology lobby wields all the power and means of communication, wasting no time in peddling its view that technology must be introduced at every opportunity using rhetorical devices as sophisticated as perceived injustice, false outrage and everybody’s old favourite: the straw man. Clever sods.
I’ve wheeled out the counter-arguments time and time again and will refrain from doing so on this occasion because my view hasn’t changed. Football is a universal game not because everyone can watch it but because everyone can play it. That universality and level of access is at the very core of the beauty behind the beautiful game, and to introduce technology of this type is to create a division within the sport and allowing it to be yet further sullied by greed.
For now, I’ll put it like this. If you think we must have technology because goal-line decisions in the Premier League and other top-level football matches are so important that we shouldn’t simply allow them to occasionally be wrong, you’re focusing your football efforts in a very different way to me. Football is a sport, it’s a game. The money and results should be incidental, not the be all and end all of a Saturday afternoon.
Controversial decisions happen on every pitch all over the world every single day, and not one of them is truly important. They’re certainly not miscarriages of justice and they’re not scandals. What matters is that millions of people around the globe are playing and watching the greatest game in the world, drinking beer in English non-league clubhouses or kicking a ball around on the streets of Brazil.
Everything else is entertainment, drama and window-dressing, fundamentally driven by money and by greed. Frank Lampard’s incorrectly judged non-goal at FIFA World Cup 2010, a Premier League team being defeated because of a poor call, Pedro Mendes being robbed at Old Trafford – it’s all superficial, it’s guff. It doesn’t matter except within the context of the game.
And no matter how many justifications Sky Sports pump into your living room, changing that context assaults the very heart of what football is and what football means.
Regardless of my strong opinion, I’m more than happy to be told why I’m wrong. If you can come up with something other than projected sporting injustice I’ll be open to the debate. Have at it.
(Photo credit: Martin Pettitt via Flickr)