By G. M. Hancock
I told you so! You wait four long years to see your team have the chance to compete for World Cup glory; a chance which on June 27, 2010 was sadly stolen from England. In Bloemfontein we saw yet another complete travesty in the world of football which may have been averted had pre-existing goal line technology (GLT) been in place. England’s premature exit from the World Cup can in part be placed squarely on the shoulders of FIFA and its anti-GLT policy.
After going 2-0 down to a young German team, the England lions rallied amazingly to get a goal back through a Matthew Upson header. Through continued pressure and momentum, Frank Lampard (photo) hit a spectacular strike which crossed the German’s goal line. The whole England squad threw up their arms in accomplishment as billions, literally billions, of spectators around the world could see that Lampard had scored. Neuer, the German goalkeeper, however, simply picked the ball out of the goal as though nothing had happened and the only two people with the power to award the goal believed him when his actions nominally indicated that the ball had not crossed the line. The result? Another goal not duly awarded because of the inadequacy of the current officiating system, which proved to be the final nail in a team’s World Cup coffin. I’ve gone into detail in a previous article (The Day Technology Died) about the benefits of GLT and how ludicrous it is that is has not yet been adopted by the top leagues. It is, however, completely unbelievable that it is not being used at least at the World Cup- the largest sporting event on Earth. Any arguments against this technology are spurious and unfounded (again see The Day Technology Died), and I would like to know how many more unfair heartbreaks of this nature are required before Sepp Blatter and the rest of FIFA realize this and do something about it? When it happened in the English Premier League, it wasn’t enough. When it happened in the European Champions League, it wasn’t enough. Now that it has happened in the World Cup, is it enough? If not, what else will it take? Occurring in a World Cup final? I honestly don’t see how we as a soccer community can continue with such an obviously flawed system. If we do, we are no longer playing soccer. We are playing Russian roulette. Will this goal count? How about this one? The question players ask of themselves will no longer be how can we score? It will be when we score, will it count? Perhaps we should implement a new rule, a goal will only be considered a goal if the ball disturbs the net because apparently crossing the line is not enough. Not by a long way. Not even at the World Cup.
Frank Lampard’s shot (photo) today perfectly illustrates the game-changing scenario which alters the course of the entire game. Who knows what might have been had GLT awarded Lampard his well-deserved goal? England doesn’t go in at the critical half-time period a goal down, which boosts their confidence. After all, they’ve overcome a two goal deficit and they’re scoring now, both of which are extremely positive points. The young German side now become disheartened from an English equalizer and cannot afford to waste time as soon as the second half whistle blows. England now don’t need to devote so many men forward in their desperate attempt to score an equalizer (that will count), which most likely would not have led to Germany’s two lucky breakaway goals in the second half. As simply as that, the whole ballgame is different.
What truly pains me most are the talking heads on the major networks who, after the game, attempt to make it sound as though England would have lost anyway which is by no means certain. They say England would have merely lost 4-2 anyway. Not necessarily (and, in my opinion, not even probably) true. Decisions like these have far-reaching, knock-on effects in terms of team strategy that anyone even familiar with soccer would understand.
I am by no means saying that England would have won beyond a shadow of a doubt had the goal been allowed. My point is we will never know. England was denied their chance to compete and they will never get it back. Lots of teams’ World Cup runs are ended early due to contentious issues, but unlike some of those others, this issue has a solution ready and waiting in the wings. That is the tragedy.
The major issues with the adoption of GLT have always been cost and availability. As I’ve said before, the system may be an initial investment, but it costs almost nothing to maintain. As for availability, granted it cannot be in use in every game. But you would think that if it were anywhere, it would be at the World Cup where every game is an international game played by the best in the world. Is a month every four years really too much to ask? I know what England’s answer would be.