MASERU – Last week Fifa president Sepp Blatter gave the thumbs up to the idea of introducing goal-line technology in football.
Blatter’s sentiments, which were revealed in an interview with CNN, were a major U-turn from his previous stance.
Blatter has been a fervent opponent of any type of technology being used in football. Speaking last October, Uefa president Michel Platini for his part said he believed goal-line technology would lead to “Playstation football”.
However, speaking to CNN Sport Blatter revealed he was now willing to see technology that could decide whether or not the ball had crossed the goal-line come into effect soon.
The softening of his position comes after continued calls for match officials to be aided in the fast-paced modern game and continuing goal-line controversies as highlighted in last year’s Fifa World Cup.
Blatter said “four or five” goal-line systems would be examined by the International Football Association Board which rules on changes to the Laws of the Game in March. The technology would be used to decide whether the ball has crossed the line, the core of football.
“We have tested 17 different goal-line systems and four or five of them will go to the International Board to have a further look at them,” Blatter said.
“A proposed testing period will then take place with a selected number of companies, prior to the International Board’s general meeting in Cardiff, Wales, on March 4 to 6, when the next steps of the process will be determined. If one of these systems is accurate and immediate and not too complicated, then I think goal-line technology has a good chance to be accepted,” Blatter said.
Last March the IFAB voted against the use of technology at its annual meeting at the Fifa headquarters in Zurich.
The issue of video technology gained momentum in November 2009 when France striker Thierry Henry deliberately handled the ball in the build-up to his team’s winning goal against Ireland in a World Cup play-off match.
A goal-line system was subsequently seen as a way to end refereeing mistakes during matches that are routinely highlighted in television replays.
Technology has been used successfully in cricket, rugby and tennis to decide close calls.
However, opponents of goal-line technology, the so-called traditionalists, including Blatter, argued it was not needed saying it wasn’t 100 percent accurate and was too expensive.
They also claimed new technology would slow the pace of the game as officials may spend long periods of time deliberating over a decision and would also remove the unique human element in football.
However, the 2010 World Cup brought the topic into unprecedented focus when Blatter felt it necessary to apologise to England after its 4-1 loss to Germany in the second round of the tournament.
Despite his shot landing well over the line England midfielder Frank Lampard’s goal was waved away with the score at 2-1.
What the introduction of goal-line technology means for Africa, specifically Lesotho, is not yet clear.
Without doubt Lesotho’s premier league has seen several controversial goal-line incidents.
However, only Setsoto Stadium would be equipped to have this technology. Using “hawk-eye” technology for goal-line decisions would require six cameras per goal, a total of 12 per stadium.
That said Lesotho’s aim is to turn its football professional and its clear technology would be vital.
Blatter’s comments mean that when Lesotho’s
stadiums are eventually improved local referees will be able to call on the help of technology in those
inevitable moments when it’s unclear whether it is a goal or not.