The goal of the game

2 min read


Marko Devic’s shot on goal went entirely over the line when Ukraine played their final group game of the Euro 2012 tournament against England on Tuesday. Whether or not Devic was offside is another matter.

The fact is the five officials on the pitch allowed play to go on after the ball had passed the line. England fans, including myself, wiped their brows and grinned through gritted teeth while Ukrainians held their arms up in uproar.

There were loud cries once again for goal-line technology to be introduced and eliminate the human error that has plagued many high-profile footballing occasions. It would seem that the vast majority of the footballing community are now in favour of introducing goal-line technology, despite some people openly admitting they enjoy debating referee’s decisions.

One of the issues with introducing the technology is that it won’t be available to all due to its cost. However, sports such as tennis and cricket haven’t come up against too much opposition from those who don’t have access to the technology.

Matt Smith, a centre forward for League One team Oldham Athletic, shares the opinion of many professional footballers. He replied to a tweet of mine on Twitter, saying: ‘I think it’s so important we see it. It’d clear up a lot of controversy. Be great to see it in the PL & then filter down the leagues.’

Meanwhile, Jon Corke, a sports trader at Paddy Power Bookmakers told The Engineer he is definitely in favour of the technology as it would aid fairness, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce the number of disputes on good will payouts. 

Fortunately, the International Association Football Board (IFAB) has been testing two goal-line technologies. They are set to announce their final decision on their approval in Kiev on July 5, following the Euro 2012 final.

The two shortlisted technologies are the Basingstoke-based Hawk-Eye system and the German developed GoalRef. Both are described in detail in a news story ran by The Engineer when it was first revealed they had been shortlisted.

Steve Haake, head of sports engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, said in an email: ‘The Hawk-Eye system is slower and would be media friendly, with 3D trajectories and images to show on screen and prove to the audience that the ball was over the line.’ 

However, critics might argue that it will slow the game down, as a time-out is needed to get the answer while the data is processed.

Meanwhile, Haake saidGoalRef would be a far more instantaneous system capable of producing a quick yes/no decision but without the supporting video evidence to convince fans.

Euro 2012 will have to go on without goal-line technology but hopefully major tournaments of the future, such as the eagerly anticipated 2014 World Cup in Brazil, will bring in Hawk-Eye or GoalRef and no longer be blighted — or enlivened — by referee-induced errors.