The Premier League returned to action this afternoon at Villa Park with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United. While VAR has been riling fans and media alike most of the season, today it was goal-line technology’s turn to provide confusion, mystery, and vitriol.
Five minutes before halftime, this happened.
That was somehow ruled not a goal, as referee Michael Oliver’s watch never was alerted that the ball had crossed the line. VAR didn’t intervene, as whether the ball crossed the line or not is distinctly the territory of the seven cameras that comprise Hawk-Eye’s goal-line technology.
Hawk-Eye, which runs the technology, issued the following statement after the match:
“The match officials did not receive a signal to the watch nor earpiece as per the Goal Decision System (GDS) protocol. The seven cameras located in the stands around the goal area were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost. This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation.
“The system was tested and proved functional prior to the start of the match in accordance with the IFAB Laws of the Game and confirmed as working by the match officials. The system has remained functional throughout. Hawk-Eye unreservedly apologizes to the Premier League, Sheffield United and everyone affected by this incident.”
And if you squint, you can see how the keeper, defender standing next to him, and the post could hinder any view of the ball over the line. Except the television cameras caught it. Which makes one wonder why they couldn’t chime in on this as some sort of fail-safe.
But as Hawk-Eye pointed out, there hadn’t been an incident like this before in 9,000 matches the tech has been in place for. The need for a fail-safe was never anticipated.
It could ripple out to major effects the rest of the season. Sheffield United are chasing a Champions League place, and the two points they very well may have missed out on by not getting this goal could be massive. Dropping points against the 19th-placed team would be considered a disappointment for any Champions League-chasing team.
On the other hand, Villa gains a point that puts it one point from safety from relegation, which could also have massive effects on that race. It’s likely the relegation places will be decided by a point or two or three.
All because Villa keeper Orjan Nyland found the one spot Hawk-Eye couldn’t find.