I’m not the greatest of football fans, but I must admit that I was horrified when I saw Frank Lampard, the 32-year-old Chelsea midfielder, denied a goal in England’s World Cup match against Germany simply due to the inability of the referee to spot that the football had crossed the goal line.
This poor refereeing, of course, led to an uproar in the national media that eventually led FIFA, football’s governing body, to issue a statement in which it said it would ‘re-open the file on goal-line technology’.
Had the goal-line technology been put in place during the England v Germany match, the outcome of the game might have been so different. Faced with the fact that they had equalised, the England team might have been given a new sense of purpose, and the re-invigorated side may have regarded their chances to beat the Germans as a vague possibility, rather than giving up hope.
Of course, it’s easy to blame the lack of such technology for England’s colossal defeat. Easier, that is, than to blame the players themselves, who are, after all, first-class athletes from the Premier League who have proved themselves time after time in the teams that they play for here at home.
Nevertheless, while no-one would question their individual football prowess, when our players come together to represent England, something important appears to be missing – as a team they seem unable to score the required number of goals to win a game.
Some football commentators, such as my friend Nick, say that the obvious reason for this is due to the fact that the Premier league sides prefer to spend their time buying in their players from other countries, rather than to raise their own English talent from an early age. And because of that, there are few really super athletes that the England manager can choose from to play in the national team.
Nick’s argued for a long time that the needs of the national team should be viewed in an equally important light to the needs of the sides in the Premier league, and that such sides should be encouraged to work to develop young talent - not only for their own benefit but to the advantage of the England team as well.
Fortunately, the folks in charge of the Premier League now seem to have woken up to that fact too and recently announced that 20 clubs have agreed to introduce a home-grown player rule, in which clubs must include eight home-grown players out of a squad of 25.
Adopting such a long-term approach to developing young talent will certainly raise England’s chances of winning next time we play in the World Cup. But just in case I’m wrong, let’s ensure that we keep the pressure up on FIFA to deploy some goal-line technology, as well to make absolutely certain that our new young talent doesn’t get defeated by the German team again by a simple error of judgement.
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