Soccer has finally reached the 21st century.
On Thursday the sport joined football, baseball, basketball, tennis, even cricket and rugby, in approving the use of technology to aid referees’ decisions.
The International Football Association Board panel, FIFA’s 126-year-old rule-keepers, approved the use of goal-line technology for use in Europe and elsewhere, with particular eyes on using it at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
It’s about time soccer joined the rest of the sports world, though questions remain over whether it’s gone too far or not far enough.
For those still arguing that taking the human element out of the game ruins a sport, just ask NFL fans, for whom instant replay is as second-nature as an offsides call, or tennis players who can rest assured knowing that they can no longer blame a referee for a bad call.
Some will argue why soccer is only opting for goal-line technology instead of going further to institute replays for simple, non-judgment calls such as offsides. It’s the same argument in baseball, which only uses replays for home runs.
In soccer, though, it’s a bit easier to explain, given that the game’s continuous pace is part of its appeal, while baseball has constant stops — also part of its appeal. Goal-line technology only comes into play when a goal is scored, one of the few stoppages in the sport, which makes it an easy choice.
Similarly, I don’t see baseball breaking up the rhythm of its sport with replays for every bang-bang play at first. MLB could even turn umpires into camera men by implementing something similar to the Hawk-Eye system (used in tennis and soon for soccer’s goal-line technology) to call balls and strikes, but I don’t see that happening in my lifetime.
Finding a good balance of technology to get the call right and human element to keep the game grounded is key. Technology will always have its naysayers when first implemented but can you really imagine watching an NFL game without those silly red flags anymore?
What’s your opinion on the use of technology to ensure referees, umpires and judges get the call right? What sports make the best or worse use of technology? Tweet responses to @TYoestingETFS or @ETFinalScore or with the hashtag #etfs. You can also email responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/ETFinalScore.