The Impact of Goal Line Technology

Goal Line Technology is arguably the biggest change to football since the introduction of yellow and red cards. In recent years, referees and their assistants have been under increased scrutiny due to high profile mistakes made in games.

The fast-paced nature of the modern game means that officials are struggling to keep up with the game, and often miss decisions which should have been given. Goal Line Technology is the first step towards minimizing the amount of errors in games, but has it had any impact since its introduction?

The technology has only be used in the Premier League since the 2013/14 season, yet it has already made some big, and truly impressive decisions. The most memorable use of goal-line technology that has occurred in the Premier League so far was a league match between Aston Villa and Fulham. In the last twenty minutes of the game, Lewis Holtby was denied a goal by the tiniest of margins. The goal line technology confirmed that the whole ball did not cross the line.

Before goal line technology was introduced, the decision would have been impossible to call correctly and would have probably resulted in the goal being incorrectly rewarded to Fulham. Although this decision didn’t have any significant impact on the game, as Fulham ran out 2-1 winners, it did show that the technology has incredible accuracy, and can also make decisions in matter of seconds.

Goal Line Technology also proved to be a huge success in the first World Cup tournament it was used in – in 2014. Although France eased to victory against Honduras, France’s 2nd goal was awarded thanks to goal-line technology. Karim Benzema’s effort at goal cannoned against the post, hit the keeper and ended up crossing the line – despite his best efforts to keep the ball from going in the back of the net. The whole scenario occurred in less than a second and without the aid of goal-line technology, the referee would have not given the goal. The referee even looked at his watch to confirm that the technology had made the decision for him.

Phantom goals (or ghost goals) have also been reduced in leagues which have introduced goal line technology. Throughout history there have been goals awarded which shouldn’t have been as they didn’t cross the line, and goals not awarded that should have been.

The most notable example of a phantom goal occurred in the 1966 World Cup final when Geoff Hurst was awarded a goal when the whole ball had not crossed the line. The goal meant England went on to win their only World Cup. These phantom goal cases have now been eradicated in leagues which have goal line technology installed.

But this sort of change to a sport does not come without its critics. Some fans argue that introducing any form of technology to the sport will destroy the human element – something that made fans fall in love with the game. Refereeing errors seem to occur in most games and it seems to now being ‘tradition’ to talk about these errors with fellow football fans.

However, with so much money involved in the game (from transfers to betting), can the amount of errors that are already occurring in games continue? There was also a fear amongst fans that it would slow down the speed of the game. However, the introduction of goal line technology has proved that technology can be introduced into the game without disrupting the flow of it.

Since the introduction of goal-line technology, fan criticism of it seems to be minimal. However there is still strong opposition from clubs, especially lower league clubs. An initial set-up cost of £250,000 isn’t a lot of money for Premier League clubs (who have multi-million pound sponsorship deals), but for lower league clubs or clubs in ‘poor leagues’, the quarter of a million pound installation fee is a significant percentage of their annual revenue and would rather invest that money on club infrastructure of their playing squad.

Overall, it seems safe to say that the introduction of goal-line technology has only had a positive effect on the game so far. The technology has proved its critics wrong by making decisions within a few seconds to allow the game to continue at the fast-paced nature without disrupting the flow of the game. The introduction of goal line technology has also potentially opened the doors to other types of technology being introduced into the game. As long as the technology isn’t ‘game-changing’ and doesn’t disrupt the flow of the game, fans may be more receptive to more technology being used.