Door closed on goal-line technology
Football's rule-makers have shut the door on goal-line technology indefinitely and, with perfect timing, the decision was swiftly followed by a legitimate goal being ruled out during an FA Cup quarter-final.
The International FA Board (IFAB) meeting in Zurich voted yesterday against continuing any further experiments with goal-line technology and effectively ended any chance of video replays coming into the game.
Opponents of technology argued that the human element of football should remain -- mistakes and all. But, in a cruel irony, and within minutes of the decision, Birmingham City had a goal ruled out at Portsmouth when officials failed to spot David James had scooped the ball out after Liam Ridgewell's header had crossed the line.
The English and Scottish football associations both voted in favour of technology but were defeated by six votes to two -- FIFA's four votes plus those of the Welsh and Irish FAs. "The door is closed," said FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke. "The decision was not to go ahead with technology at all."
The IFAB will decide in May whether to pursue the system of having an extra two officials behind each goal-line.
"In the end it came down to a difference of opinion about whether you believe the future of football involves technology or not. But some of the arguments were very powerful and persuasive and we have to accept them," said FA chief executive Ian Watmore, who had been in favour of goal-line technology. "The credibility of football is always improved if you get the critical decisions right. I would have liked to try it out in the real game to see whether it is good or not."
Goal-line technology had come back on the agenda following pressure on FIFA to look at other systems in the wake of Thierry Henry's handball in the World Cup play-off for France against the Republic of Ireland. Two systems had been developed by Hawk-Eye and German firm Cairos, but there were also fears that goal-line technology would be a 'Trojan horse' to eventually allow full video replays into the game.
"Technology should not enter into the game," said Valcke. "It was a clear, clear statement made by the majority of the IFAB. The main part of the game should be humans -- players and referees.
"Whatever are the mistakes -- and yes, there are mistakes -- people will review the match and discuss what happened, but there was a clear statement that technology should not enter into the game.
"If we start with goal-line technology then any part of the game and pitch will be a potential space where you could put in place technology to see if the ball was in or out, whether it was a penalty and then you end up with video replays."
A decision on whether to bring in UEFA president Michel Platini's proposal for two extra assistant referees behind each goal-line will be taken on May 18 after the current experiment in the Europa League has finished.
The IFAB will also decide then on whether to change the rules so that a player who concedes a penalty is not automatically sent off if he also denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity.