Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

FIFA Gets It Wrong On Getting It Right

Illustration for article titled FIFA Gets It Wrong On Getting It Right

Goal-line technology could be getting its first major test in the Premier League next season, and be on its way to FIFA-wide use. It's long overdue, and yet they're even screwing this step up.


It's important to note that Hawk-Eye, the leading system, isn't precisely replay. Soccer is more concerned with the pace of the game than American sports, and the information would be produced in near-realtime by triangulation of high-speed cameras. (Similar technology allows instantaneous line calls in tennis.) The referees could know in seconds if a ball crossed the goal line.

Shocking that they haven't used this before, given the number of dodgy calls in recent years. But soccer is famously resistant to change. But Sepp Blatter has signaled his willingness to give Hawk-Eye a dry run, with England as its proving ground.

There's a major caveat, though: results will be kept secret, so as not to "undermine" referees by contradicting them. Which, one might argue, should be the entire point of the technology: getting calls right when they're made wrong on the pitch. One might also argue that worrying about the refs' feelings is a losing battle, since they still endlessly replay and dissect missed calls.

But we do need to know if the technology is sound, and secret testing is better than no testing at all. We'd just feel more comfortable if this weren't precisely the type of organization who would lie and say "Hawk-Eye failed the tests" and never bring it up again.