Technology In Football


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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15 Responses

  1. David Howell says:

    The best anti-technology argument I can recall reading.

    One of the more interesting suggestions I’ve seen on addressing the issue of refereeing mistakes is to adopt an NFL-style system whereby coaches can challenge the calls of officials a limited number of times in a match (two per half in the NFL, and the penalty for an incorrect challenge is the loss of a timeout). Again, it creates thumb-twiddling in a sport that is fluid rather than based on ‘plays’, and I can’t work out how to implement a penalty comparable to the loss of a timeout, but on principle I wouldn’t object to this myself. (Of course, it would also create an interesting addition to the manager’s role – I’m sure we can all imagine Warnock and a couple of others getting challenge-happy!)

    A better reform would be to give the referee a microphone a lá rugby union, in my opinion. Doesn’t change the game, does make it clear for all how the referee is calling the shots.

  2. Graham says:

    Very nice piece, Rob. Echoes a lot of what we said in The Sound of Football podcast a few weeks ago.

    The only people technology truly benefits is the media who will no doubt be controlling it. Remember kids, nothing that Andy Gray says actually affects anything that goes in the game… for the moment at least.


  3. RichardS says:

    @David Howell

    The NFL system of instant replay specifically EXCLUDES penalty calls (bearing in mind that “penalty” in this context refers to any penalisable infraction) whether called or not. It is restricted to matters of fact, and has been the subject of a lot of negative comment in recent seasons.

  4. Pete says:


    I think it’s quite instructive to look at recent developments in cricket – a game you’d think would be ideally suited, if any game is, to the use of video replays. Increasingly, it seems that for every controversy settled by ‘technology’, two more arise. Should this decision have been referred or not? Whose footage and sound should be used? Video is proving a hydra-headed beast. Within ten years of even its most tentative introduction to football, it would change the game profoundly and much for the worse.

  5. Steve Thomas says:

    Brilliant article!! I found myself agreeing with all that was written. Especially the bit about everyone else in the game being allowed to make mistakes apart from the only impartial participants – the officials.

    And the bit about all WC qualifiers etc. being ‘as equal’.

    I’m no fan of Blatter but he’s made the right choice here. Match-going fans need the controversy, the banter and the post-match debate, it’s what football has been about since the late 1800s and that’s why it’s the most popular sport in the world.

  6. I embarked upon the reading of this post with a vague idea that I am in favour of goal line technology but your arguments are so lucid that I think you may have won me over to arguing for a retention of the status quo.

    Also at Ipswich recently, Matt Mills’ 4 game ban for a sending off was upheld after Reading appealed subject to video evidence. The tackle still looks like a yellow card offence on television but the FA chose to back the referee. So, even with such “evidence” available, the wrong decision can be made.

  7. Roger Payne says:

    Excellent article. The “fluid” aspect is the most often overlooked. I agree that keeping refereeing decisions as a human element is correct. I also agree that perhaps a mandatory post-match press conference for the referee would put an end to the hours of speculative nonsense on Sky Sports News that follow any marginal call.

    To anyone considering rugby league an appropriate comparison, please be aware that the 4th official is only present at Sky live games. So on the Friday/Saturday evening games you watch at home there is a video ref, but for the other fixtures that weekend the ref’s decision is final.

    Murdoch has toyed with that particular sport to such an extent that he has had a hand in renaming all the teams, temporarily abolishing promotion and relegation, devaluing the Challenge Cup and, arguably, deciding which teams are to benefit from “better” decisions on a week-by-week basis…

  8. Sunil says:

    Rob, great article. Keep the game as is.

    Instead of changing soccer with technology, why not empower each league? Review the tape of every game & hand out harsh penalties for diving, late tackles, etc., even if the ref didn’t see it or decided not to mark down. If Henry knew he would be banned for 1 year (and fined), would he think twice about handling the ball?

    No appeal either.

  9. Rob says:

    @Sunil – That could open a different can of worms, because it’s one thing the player trying something that he believes the official won’t see (which only the player will ever truly know), but if not, are we then doing to give players huge bans, not because of their actions, but because the officials in the cases concerned made a genuine mistake, or had their vision of the incident obscured?

  10. Sunil says:

    Kevin Garnett was suspended for throwing an elbow that if I remember correctly, no game official saw. The game was obviously reviewed by the NBA head office afterward.

    I agree with the main thrust of your article, let the refs call the games without interference or new technology, now & perhaps ever (start with something minor & there will be a clamor for more, better, improved tech).

    You won’t catch everything, I can live with that. And there will always be judgment calls on most incidents – controversy spices up the game.

    I’m guessing players’ (and managers’) behavior will change subtly if they knew there are repercussions for actions on the field. I expect a lot of diving in the World Cup, the refs will ignore or miss most of it. But if FIFA immediately bans the perps for the next game, it stops quickly.

    Over here (US) in the NFL, if you’re suspended for x games, your wages are docked for those games too.

  11. Wurzel says:

    No to technology. But for a long time I’ve advocated a ref and 4 linesman. Not the strange system being experimented with at the moment in the Europa League but 1 linesman covering each of the 4 quarters of the touchline. That way every incident (including offside) has at least 3 viewpoints. Any dispute, majority decision stands. Quick, simple and can apply anywhere

  12. Krupa says:

    Spotted Rob’s post on the case against technology in football. BBC World TV are debating this very issue this afternoon and we are keen to speak to Rob about his possible participation. If interested in finding out more please do pop me an email with the best number to reach you on.

  13. Ally says:

    sorry, but you’re letting idealism prevent improvement

  14. Jaden says:

    This article is very well written, i like it a lot. It gave me very valuable information.

  1. March 12, 2012

    […] of the pro-technology lobby, no-one comes up with an answer to some of the logistical questions raised here two years ago. But does the media’s agenda just lie with wanting to improving the game, or is there more to […]

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