After four years of studying a politics degree, assignments were dry and often very theoretical based. Studying for a masters in Sport Marketing is somewhat different. Gone are the days of 3000 words essays on political theory, foreign policy, and the Westminster model in UK politics. So as the assignments aren’t so dry, I’ve decided to showcase some of my work (the stuff that could be interesting to some), and of course I have edited it to make it more readable to the normal person (and not just my lecturer in sport business). 

So here goes with the first one, a look at why goal line technology was introduced in football … 

Innovation in football has been notoriously absent when compared to other sports (Cricket & Tennis), but when goal-line technology (GLT) was introduced into professional football competitions in 2012, technological innovation in football started to become accepted. 

As a new idea in football, Goal line technology changed the way in which match officials participate in goal decisions. After various incidents in football, including the 2010 World Cup when Frank Lampard’s infamous ‘goal’ was disallowed, to Manchester United’s goalkeeper stepping a yard over the goal-line to ‘save’ a Tottenham Hotspur goal in 2005; there was a need for technology to improve fairness in goal decisions. If you are a Tottenham fan you are probably still bitter about that today (my Dad is, but I on the other hand was too young to remember it). 

The advocates for GLT pushed for the implementation to increase fairness, by eliminating referee mistakes. Former Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger promoted the need for goal-line technology to not only allow for justice to be served in football, but to also increase active game time, something that FIFA claimed would not occur due to GLT affected the fluidity of the game (Ryall, 2012). Ultimately, the main objective of football is about what team can score the most goals. The introduction of GLT would help referee’s and their assistants get a clear indication of whether or not the football has crossed the goal-line promoting fairness and justice in football.

Hawk Eye was the first organisation to receive a FIFA GLT licence in 2012. FIFA’s decision to use Hawk Eye was based on the evidence that Hawk Eye’s system was the ‘most accurate, reliable and experienced’ (Hawk Eye Innovation), with the system implemented in Cricket and Tennis. Seven cameras, 500 frames per second, capture the 3D position of the ball, and monitor the path of the ball which sends messages to a computer system tracking the trajectory of the ball. If the ball does cross the goal line, the referee receives a message on his watch, displaying the correct information immediately.

The approval of goal-line technology in 2012 from FIFA and the IFAB, came after testing in England, Germany, Italy, and Hungary, which lasted nine months (Premier League, 2013). The 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan became the first competition to use Hawk Eye’s GLT system, with different systems tested, and evaluated before the implementation from FIFA. However, before the implementation of GLT, FIFA President Sepp Blatter had controversial opinions about GLT. 

In 2010, FIFA indicated eight reasons why GLT should not be introduced. The reasons included undermining the simplicity of universal football; the technology is not reliable; the technology would undermine the quality of referees; and the system would be too expensive to implement and to test. Ironic now isn’t it. GLT was seen as too expensive and not reliable, yet we question every time VAR is used and how it is used. Well at least with no football we don’t have to wait for what feels like years for VAR to state if a goal is on side or offside. We have all felt the pain of VAR in some sense or way, yet goal line technology hasn’t ever affected me as a fan in the same way. You almost forget about it during a match, and it is never debated.

The Premier League tested goal-line technology during the 2006/07 season at Fulham FC Craven Cottage stadium, and during the 2007/08 season at Reading’s Hogwood Park, however, their testing was ruled out in 2008 by the IFAB (Premier League, 2013). 

Traditionally, the view was held that implementing technology into the universal game of football would create more problems and would be expensive. Views from the footballing world including Michael Platini, who suggested that football should just introduce another official instead of technology, whereas Kevin Keegan argued that GLT would be too expensive and complicated, as it would have to be repeated at all levels of football from grassroots to professional.

Since the implementation of GLT in 2012, it can be argued that fairness in football has been improved, and controversial goal decisions have been solved to some extent, due to complete accuracy of detecting when the ball has crossed the goal-line or not, compared to the human eye. *VAR* perhaps hinders the image, and controversy has followed it, well in the Premier League at least.

Today, GLT is evident in the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, Dutch Eredivisie, Italian Serie A, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA EURO’s, as well as at FIFA tournaments.

The English Football League introduced GLT technology in the 2017/18 Championship play-offs, helping referee’s with crucial decisions (EFL, 2017), then in 2018/19, all twelve SkyBet play-offs in League 2 through to the Championship incorporated GLT (EFL, 2018). At the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, all 64 matches used Hawk Eye GLT and saw history made after the first goal at the World Cup was awarded through GLT support (The Stats Zone, 2016). The decision of whether GLT will be implemented in a football match is at the discretion of the tournament’s governing body.

Goal-line technology has been beneficial, helping to remove contentious goal-line decisions, in which it has gained respect from players, match officials, media, and the supporters (FIFA, 2018). In the 2017/18 English Premier League, GLT provided justice to Manchester City with their win over Liverpool FC, helping Manchester City win their second consecutive Premier League title, in which was a two-horse race with Liverpool. 

One argument suggested that implementing goal-line technology would remove the ‘rawness’ of football at the professional leveL. Critics also cited that GLT technology would be expensive to implement, and in 2013 at twenty Premier League stadiums across England, GLT system would cost £250,000 to install at each. In comparison to what Premier League clubs earn from television rights, sponsorships, and ticket sales, the cost to implement is relatively low. When analysing the positive and negative consequences of the introduction of GLT in football, the positive of creating justice and fairness in football matches ultimately outweigh the negatives, especially as it can be debated whether or not football can still be classified as ‘raw’ at the professional level.

Goal-line technology has opened the door to technology in football, the introduction of the video-assisted referee (VAR) has grown the development in making professional football fairer, and more justice is served to other decisions than just a ball crossing the goal line. However, the introduction of VAR is somewhat more controversial than GLT, and almost echoes the concerns that FIFA had originally cited over the implementation of GLT. 

There have still been questions on whether GLT has dehumanised football, although the extent to which this can be measured is debatable, although it has opened up a pathway to technology in football that could be a suggestion of dehumanising football.

The introduction of goal-line technology in football was the first video-assisted technology accepted in football in 2012 by FIFA. Ultimately, GLT has been successful at creating justice, and increasing fairness in terms of goals scored, but only by accurately positioning if the ball has crossed the line, and no other contentious decisions. Although there are critics of GLT, the negative consequences arguments are weak, and with footballers, referees, and fans acceptance of GLT in the modern game. It can be argued that GLT was not only one of the best innovations in modern football, but helped modern football to become fair in terms of goals scored, when only briefly crossing the goal-line.

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