Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sound of Football Episode 30 - Technology in Football

This week, the chaps discuss an old bugbear. In light of FIFA's recent decision to not pursue the use of goal line technology, Chris, Graham and Terry talked about the problems and concerns they have about the use of technology in the game.

There are some forthright opinions which go against the general Sky Sports-led consensus that technology is a good thing. They also question the motives of commercial broadcasters in the officiating of football.

We very much welcome your views and ask you to contribute to the debate. Listen to the podcast and let us know what you think.

You can catch the podcast here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3. Alternatively, you can subscribe via the your reader of choice or via our iTunes feed.


manziket said...

link leads to episode 28, lads

Terry said...

Apologies. Link works properly now.

Anonymous said...

You could argue that the unfairness of not having the same amount of cameras is the same as one referee being in the right place to see something versus one not being in the right place. Sure this is not the exact same thing since one situation only has a probability of happening while the other has a certainty of happening in a few areas, but it does not seem like that it is that unfair if both the ref and the technology are working to simply widen the refs vantage points. I also agree that you need to have uniformity in the cameras usage. So right now if you assume the technology is only applied to international matches (where the technology has a standard) and someone has paid for it, wouldn't a challenge system similar to tennis work out fairly for teams. In other words you only let a referee's decision be challenged. A few other easy rules could be applied to keep the system from being abused, like wasting time. You might also be able to set up a system where the 4th official has access to all camera angles in which the 4th official may see something the other refs could not. The 4th or maybe a 5th official could be utilized to quickly catch missed calls, henry handball and other such things (this would be during the run of play or within a few seconds, several screens could be delayed a few seconds behind to act as an immediate instant replay for him) and these guys could be trained to look only for certain key things just like most other refs do in game). The system is not perfect but could weed out quite a few bad calls. The initial cost is great but in the long run I think it is cheaper than some of the alternatives like adding more refs.

Graham said...

Sorry Anonymous you'll have to try harder than that to shake my concerns over the use of technology. Using technology instead of refs won't save money - someone still has to control the cameras and edit the footage.

That job will almost certainly fall to a local broadcaster; the governing bodies have neither the resources nor the inclination to do this themselves - there's no benefit for them.

I for one, don't want referees decisions based on what the local broadcasters see fit to show them.

CaptRJSpaulding said...

Great podcast guys...best one for a while :) Some really interesting points raised.

I don't feel that technology shouldn't be implemented because it should only be used if it can be used all the way down to grass roots level...Technology will inevitably filter down as it becaomes cheaper, but to bar it until that day seems somewhat arcane. Not all grass roots levels could easily accomodate the 2 extra ref's assistants as trialled in the Europa League (an idea whcih I personally think is useless and nothing but an attempt to stave off the calls for technology...how can someone standing behind or to the side of a goal be a better judge of something that happens in an instant than a system such as Hawkeye, which can gather data and play it back / freeze the action at the precise moment needed?), but it's still being trialled. I see no reason why the higher up leagues / competitions could not use technology while the lower leagues don't...so long as the playing field is level across a particular division, but I guess that's more of a philosophical question, rather than a practical one. The comparison was drawn with Ice Hockey, stating rightly that to play football one only needs something to kick and something to mark out a goal, whereas ice hocket requires all sorts of equipment, fundamentally an ice rink. Using technology in football does not change this...one does not NEED goal line technology to be able to play the game at any level any more than one requires nets so just because the upper echelons could use such tech, this will not change the game fundamentally, merely make it less wooly at a level where there's much more at stake.

I also think there's the question of blame to look at. One of you (I think it was Terry) raised the possibility of a brazilian TV director not replaying footage from certain angles as it may end up with their country losing the WC or similar and the quite real possibility of that person being sacked or even losing their life. While I agree entirely with this argument, the introduction of certain tech, (e.g. goal line) could reduce the pressure on such occasions...would a crazed fan seek out the inventor of Hawkeye if they perceived it had denied them of a win? Indeed, would there even be crazed fans if it could be easily proved the ball did / did not cross the line? Probably as there'll always be crazed fans no matter how obvious a decision is, but you get my point...

Going back to video technology, the whole issue of what footage would be released and who would control it is something I'd not previously considered and as you say, FIFA have no inclination to get involved and until they do and install an official to watch over / control the footage etc, the whole idea is flawed.

That said, who controls it in rugby and has anyone thus far refused to show certain feeds? Speaking of rugby, the question Terry posed of 'has a decision based on video footage ever changed a game?' is perhaps more complex than a simple yes / no answer. It's impossible to say as bad decisions affect the whole mood of a team and can often cause them to lose concentration while they mull over the event or worse, to give up if they feel severely hard done by. A decision taken after reviewing video footage has less impact as most players will usually accept the decision is more likely to be fair as it has been reviewed and not just made in the moment, so a game may well not have changed, but it could well have done had the decision not been reviewed.

One last thought...there's also the issue of return on investment...for goal line technology for example, how many goals have been disallowed / given which shouldn't have and what has the cost been due to those decisions offset against the cost of implementation? And would FIFA really want to be able to rid the game of these talking points? Would the game become less involving and lose some of its appeal (and therefore profitability) if such momentous events never happened?


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