There have been talks about introducing more and more technology into sport for years and each time one adopts a new form of technology, others are encouraged to embrace it. Since the likes of cricket and rugby brought in television replays, football has been encouraged to do the same, in an attempt to reach the right decision or – as cricket refers to it – to “eradicate the howler” which can affect the outcome of a game.
We’ve already seen plenty of hi-tech kit brought into the game, helping to take away sweat from the skin to aid performance and fitness, as well as compression clothing kit that can keep muscles and joints warm to reduce the risk of injuries.
The logical next step for sports like football is to embrace new forms of technology to improve the way the game is run. After all, the actual performance of professional football has never been higher with teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea attracting thousands each week in the Premier League; and Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich attracting huge audiences on the continent.
There are a number of technologies already in the game, especially in the Premier League, with referees linked to their officials by microphones so they can be instructed immediately if there is a foul or if the ball goes out of play and the referee is too far away to be able to make the judgement personally.
Another example is in the officials’ flag, where a button in the flag handle alerts the referee to the fact there has been a foul or the ball is going out of play. This new technology enables officials to be able to communicate clearly even if the noise of the crowd drowns out the microphone.
The latest innovation, and the most in-demand and controversial, is the introduction of goal-line technology. Various systems have been trialed and the various leagues around the world are now working out whether or not they should be bringing them in full-time. The Premier League has incorporated cameras in the goal that are linked to a watch worn by the referee that will either say ‘goal’ or ‘no goal’ in a matter of seconds. As yet, we’ve not seen a goal given by the use of this technology although we have seen examples of one contentious ‘goal’ at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea had an effort correctly ruled as ‘no goal’ at the start of the season.
The various forms of technology that have been in the game for a number of years are now at a point where we are happy with them and they’re almost taken for granted or overlooked. With goal-line technology it’s possibly too early to make a judgement but – in theory at least – there is no reason why it shouldn’t make the game better, helping us to reach the correct decisions even if it does take away a lot of the debate saved for pubs and workplaces around the country for the week that follows!