Ireland’s heartache blasts open technology argument again

November 19, 2009

There was never going to be another blog topic today. After a fantastic example of international football in Paris, the ‘Hand of Henry’ broke Irish hearts and once again opened up the technology debate. As for Henry himself, I’ll come to that later.

Technology in football is very divisive amongst fans, players and managers. Indeed, my good friend Mr Mantle wrote just last week that he didn’t want to see video technology in the game as the drama of wrong decisions is part-and-parcel of this sport we love so much.

He makes a good point. Football is all about drama. Each match seems to contain a bucket load of the stuff, and none of us want to see that dwindle down. However, there comes a point where we have to act. As many people are so keen to point out now, football is a business these days, no longer just a game. It seems like every match played is worth ‘millions’ but last night was worth more than money; last night was about playing on the biggest stage in world sport.

For a match worth so much to be decided on a blatant act of cheating leaves a really bad taste in the mouth, and once again FIFA will be asked to assess the options open to them. There are a couple available.

The first is to introduce a video ref. The video ref could have the role of watching off-the-ball incidents, as well as being able to tell the referee when a player has dived or the ball has crossed the line. The positives of this are that there will now be no excuse for a referee to get a decision wrong. However, it will come at a cost to the flow of the game, and the drama will be gradually squeezed out.

The second option would be more referees. Now we’ve already seen the Europa League scenario, with an additional linesman behind each goal. However, the problem here is people don’t seem to be exactly sure what they’re meant to be doing. On top of this, we’ve seen some decisions slide in the competition, so it would seem that their vantage point may not be ideal. Perhaps standing behind the goal might make the job a little easier? However, I think the game may benefit more by having 2 linesman in each half. The three-dimensional view the officials will then have would certainly make a few decisions easier.

I have to say I agree with Ross, and I’m not really behind the call for a video ref. I think it will be too detrimental on the pace of the game, as what we want to see most of all is a game that’s allowed to flow. However, that does not mean I don’t want to embrace technology. As I stated on an earlier blog, I believe we should add a microchip to the ball, and a light behind the goal that turns on when the ball crosses the line. That is one decision referees clearly need taking out their hands, and I’m certain that is help they would appreciate. However, it also keeps the drama in the rest of the game.

I would also then introduce two more linesmen.

But the second part of this blog is reserved for cheating, and today it is Thierry Henry who deserves a special mention.

I don’t know about you, but that is about as blatant a handball as I’ve ever seen. After the match, he even had the audacity to say it wasn’t deliberate. I’m sorry, if that wasn’t deliberate I’m an Argentine and my name is ‘Juan’. And once again, the referee is getting abuse for not spotting it. Henry’s ‘I’m not the referee, it is not my job to spot it’ attitude really sticks in the throat. No Thierry, it’s not your job to referee the game, but it’s also not your job to handle the ball and score from it, but you did that OK didn’t you?

Of course, we may very well have been having another debate today. ‘Le Sulk’ Anelka could also have been responsible for cheating the Irish out of a World Cup spot if his blatant dive had been interpreted differently by the referee. Now this was even worse than Henry in my opinion. At least handball is ‘instinctual’, rather than a pre-meditated attempt at cheating. However, Anelka should be held-to-rights over his Tom Daley impression.

And just to finish this off, I wonder what devoted Frenchman and UEFA President Michel Platini made of last night’s action? After all, he’s been as quiet as it gets today. I wonder if the same would be said had a similar incident occurred against the French yesterday?

Just a thought…

5 Responses to “Ireland’s heartache blasts open technology argument again”

  1. richwilcock Says:

    I think the other nights actions seriously brought to light the archaic way that Fifa operate. They cannot replay the match because they’re is nothing in the rules to say they can. Unless you take that screwed up stipulation that they have to have a “precedent” in order to go ahead with a replay.

    There were three officials there, and none of them saw it, or were even remotely worried that it wasn’t a goal. So I doubt a video ref would have been called into action, if it was there.

    How would a microchip in the ball help in a situation like this? I don’t like the idea of two extra referees. It seems to be putting a plaster over a bulletwound.

    My point being is. Nobody knew what to do on the pitch, nobody seemed to know what to do afterwards and nobody seems to know what to do now. It highlighted the desperate need for a procedure and some sort of recognition of the technology that is so readily there.

    Who’s to say this won’t happen in the 104th minute of extra time in the World Cup? It doesn’t bear thinking about

  2. Mike McKenna Says:


    The microchip in the ball won’t help for situations like this, I’m not saying it will. However, how many times a season do we have an argument over a ‘goal’ which was either awarded incorrectly or not at all? Just this season there was the one at Bristol City where the ball went in and came out and wasn’t given. The microchip is to stop that from happening.

    As for the extra officials, they simply provide extra eyes. If it had been a Europa League match, that handball would have been spotted. Or if there had been a linesman on the other side in addition to the current one, there is no longer a ‘blindside’ so more incidents are seen.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it means the game isn’t delayed, like it would be for a video ref, and if it means these incidents become infrequent, then it does the job.

  3. richwilcock Says:


    Right, I get you fully now. I thought you were saying there should be a microchip for a situation like this. I still don’t think a microchip would help. It has proven too unreliable in testing. Only last year, the companies manufacturing it were asked to demonstrate the technology and it failed on six seperate occasions.

    In an ideal world, I think a video ref would be the obvious choice, but there is so much to take into account before that could be implemented.

    I guess that leaves the two extra refs. I suppose a plaster is better than nothing…

  4. Mike McKenna Says:


    Personally, if I was FIFA I’d approach all the big technology companies (Sony, Microsoft etc) and ask them to come up with something. I’m pretty sure they’d be able to, and they’d do it for free as imagine how much advertising they’d receive?

    As for video refs, I think it would take far too long as I said, and the last thing we want is to disrupt the flow of the game.

    It’s a tough one, but FIFA have to at least do something!

  5. […] refer to the disallowed Frank Lampard strike. I’m prettey sure it’s been covered here and […]

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