Ghost goals have got to go | Soccer | CBC Sports

Euro CupGhost goals have got to go

Posted: Monday, April 16, 2012 | 02:28 PM

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Chelsea’s Frank Lampard is no stranger to controversial goals. (Tom Hevezi/Associated Press) Chelsea’s Frank Lampard is no stranger to controversial goals. (Tom Hevezi/Associated Press)

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It is coming and it will change the game. Until its arrival, goal-line technology, like hindsight and the IT guy at work, is never around when you need it.

It is coming and it will change the game. Until its arrival, goal-line technology, like hindsight and the IT guy at work, is never around when you need it.

Soccer's rulers are working on it. They will get there because they have to not because they want to. By the time the world's finest gather in Brazil, a little over two years hence, goal-line technology will be up and running. In time it will become as familiar as the referee's whistle and the colour of the grass.

All doubt must be removed from the equation. Soccer is a game of skill not of chance and FIFA, the world governing body, knows it. It cannot allow its quadrennial showpiece - the World Cup - to again be sullied by controversy. FIFA's multinational partners pay enormous amounts for the right to reach global audiences. For them, and for us the humble fans, a tournament decided by the possibility of human error is simply unacceptable.

Frank Lampard now knows how it feels from both sides. It was his infamous 'non' goal for England in South Africa which forced FIFA's hand and a smart about turn on video replays. Now his club side, Chelsea, has reached the historic FA Cup final due in part to another goal-line gaffe.

Lampard, a victim in 2010, has become a beneficiary due to a referee's decision. A well meaning, experienced referee who made a mistake - an error so blatant the official later offered an apology to the losing team. The Chelsea midfielder will get to play in one of the highlights of the English domestic calendar partly because goal-line technology was not available.

Trouble is, it is available and has been for years. Soccer's overlords have simply dragged their feet over its introduction hoping the problem would go away. It hasn't and it won't. In the 21st century there are no more excuses not to embrace change. The credibility of the world's game is at stake and goal-line technology can no longer be ignored.

Chelsea's victory was, ultimately, emphatic. A 5-1 win over London rivals Tottenham suggests that even without the 'ghost' goal, Lampard and co. would have romped home with something to spare. Indeed they might but there is no way of being sure. What would have happened had the referee got it right?

Nervous teams

At the time just a single goal separated two nervous teams, neither of whom wanted to be a losing semifinalist. A two-goal deficit forced Tottenham to change tactics, push forward and take risks in search of a way back into the game. Inevitably, they were picked off by a confident, clinical opponent who put the issue beyond doubt long before the final whistle.

Just one more overwhelming case for the prosecution. Yet another incident which could have been settled right there and then had football got its house in order. It could have been proactive and challenged itself to work with the technology in finding a solution.

Instead it waited for disaster to strike. In reactionary mode FIFA was forced to concede it was wrong to scrap the experiments but was it only saying sorry because it got caught with its pants down? The rest of the pro sports world and it fans continue to snicker at soccer's inability to move with the times.

There is no turning back. Goal-line technology will become part of soccer's rule book. But resentment festers in the corridors of power. While FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been forced to acknowledge the necessity of video replays, his likely successor is dead against it.

Platini outspoken critic

UEFA president, Michel Platini is an outspoken critic of the system. The former French midfielder, widely tipped to become the next FIFA president when Blatter stands down in 2015, has championed the cause of more eyes not more cameras.

Apparently Platini doesn't see the need for pinpoint accuracy. His tournaments - notably the UEFA Champions League and the European Championship - will continue to employ two extra officials, positioned on the goal-line, just outside the frame of the goal, in a bid to aid the central referee and resolve any issues.

It is nearly time to get out the rubber stamp. In July the International Football Association Board will almost certainly give the go ahead to implement goal-line technology. It will be seen in England's Premier League and presumably at all senior FIFA tournaments in the lead up to Brazil 2014.

What happens thereafter is anyone's guess. Would a Platini-led FIFA attempt to scrap goal-line technology? Or as the leader of the world's game would he make his peace with it and move on?

Perhaps he should seek some professional advice. I am sure he has Frank Lampard's cell phone number.

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