Does Football Need Technology?

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Yes that’s right, that old chestnut – technology in football, is it REALLY necessary?

Before we delve into discussion, it’s paramount we recognise that football, as a whole, runs contrary to the normality’s of sporting adaption. Sports often adopt the concept of ‘changing or dying’, recognizing the changing face of modern commercialism and consumer needs and altering their offerings accordingly.

But not football.

While a swirling array of sports submerge themselves into the lucrative world of broadcasting opportunities, football notably looks to maintain it’s integral stronghold of being performed ‘by the people, for the people’. Steeped in history, many argue that the game will lose some of its unique, fundamental aspects en route to the modernization of a sport that to others requires such technological advancement. Followers of such a trail of thought stem their views from the belief that a more precise game will lead to the creation of a more beautiful game. But will it? I’ve no doubt Mr. Lampard amongst other professionals will provide overwhelming evidence following the 2010 World Cup, and perhaps it is endless examples as such that have created an aura of inevitability surrounding technology, in some form, intertwining it’s way into the beautiful game.

However, who does the necessity for technology benefit? The players? The fans? Both? Or neither? This is an age-old argument that has manifested itself in a number of rule changes, and not just in football. Take the ‘no false start’ ruling in athletics for example; who does this benefit? The answer on the surface is nobody. Athletes don’t want to be disqualified, fans travel the world to view their favourite athletes – nobody attends the event in search of not viewing top athletes. The undercurrent within such influential decision-making lies in the boardrooms, money spinning investors and executives who view commercialism as a key driver of revenue. The imposition of such a ruling creates a smooth, entertaining broadcast to air to the paying public.

Is such an example applicable to football? Yes, in some sense – the recipients of technology will ultimately be football clubs whereby a decision could tilt the match, their season or in extreme cases their history. These are perhaps obvious indicators in favour of technological input, yet followers in agreement of technology cannot deny the excitement lying in human decision-making – did it cross the line? Was he/she offside? Was that really a red? These are the questions that spark debate and in essence shape the footballing world and it’s ability to create discussion wherever you are globally. If goal-line technology is implemented, will excitement regarding human interpretation be lost? Where will the technological influence end?

The inability to fulfill technological advancements throughout the footballing community is perhaps one of the major oppositions to technology. There is a certain degree of agreement that ultimately, the last thing the sport needs is two different sets of rules applicable at both ends of the performance spectrum on the basis of technological input. It could certainly be argued that the values the sport promotes, such as equality for all, suggest the requirement of a fluidity of ruling up and down the hierarchy of the footballing community, from grassroots right through to professionalism.

It is undeniable that only a positive outlook can come from recognizing the role technology can play in coming to the correct decision and of course, if taking an objective view on the sport, this is the best thing for it. Yet, those that undertake a holistic view of the permutations will recognise the potential subtractions the modernization could cause. This is typically the view UEFA have taken with the implementation of extra assistants placed on the goal line. The ambience of desperation emanating from the organisation to withhold human decision-making is clear, but when all is said and done, it only takes one incident of controversy to tip the psychological scales of the masses in favour of technology simply in order to bring the tireless feud to a close. Food for thought.

What are your opinions on the great technology in sport debate? Comment below, via our Twitter @labelonline or directly to Callum @callumldraper

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