The English Premier League looks to be on the verge of introducing goal-line technology – but Australia should steal a march on the Poms (not for the first time) and introduce it first.
Plans to bring the technology into the biggest league in the world were initially set for season 2013/14, but now it seems it could be introduced sometime in the middle of next season – depending on FIFA approval, obviously.
But imagine the interest we could stir up if the A-League did it first.
After decades of debate, FIFA will decide at a special meeting in July if the world game will finally be able to introduce goal-line technology, and EPL chief executive Peter Scudamore said, “The fact we have got a better way of detecting it means there is some possibility of introducing it mid-season if we get it right.”
That’s a big Christmas present for Premier League fans but if FFA were able to bring the technology to Australia first, the A-League would become the focus of attention of the football world, highlighting it as a progressive and positive domestic competition.
FIFA trials have narrowed the choices down to two systems: British company Hawk-Eye places seven high-speed cameras at each goal and, as in tennis and cricket, triangulates the exact position of the ball; the Danish-German system, GoalRef, places an aerial with a magnetic signal inside the ball, which is picked up by sensors in the posts and sends a signal to the match officials.
Both systems are being tested by independent examiners for FIFA, and both could be approved if the meet FIFA’s criteria, the decision will then go before the International Football Association Board (IFAB) on 2 July.
Individual leagues would then have the option to choose which technology to adopt, with the American MLS reported to be eager to bring it in for the 2013 season, which kick off next March.
So what if FFA got in first and brought the technology the Australia in October?
Given the work the head honchos are doing the new club for western Sydney it seems unlikely they’d want to take on something else ahead of season 2012/13 but there’s no doubt it would provide a massive boost of interest and publicity for the game in this country.
There are a number of factors that could influence the decision - Hawk-Eye, for example, will reportedly cost about $400,000 to install at each stadium but viewers are already used to the technology and it would be great TV.
GoalRef, on the other hand, would be less dramatic but almost instantaneous, and much cheaper to install, with a mass production version apparently already in the pipeline.
UEFA boss Michel Platini recently re-stated his opposition to the introduction to goal-line technology, saying he wants the game to remain human, but there is little place for romanticism in modern-day big business football.
Given Australian sports fans’ familiarity with video referees and in-game technology, introducing it to the A-League would also no doubt go some way to winning over some of the sceptics.
But most of all it would be a good – no – a great news story for the A-League, the first national league in the world to adopt the new technology, as millions watch with interest to see how it affects the game in a real-life situation.
It won’t be used for offsides or fouls or any other aspect of the game, only to determine those impossible decisions that so often decide big game.
Australian sport is already a world-leading innovator – let’s send a signal to the rest of the football world that our league ready to cross that line.
The view expressed in this article are purely the author's and do not reflect those of Football federation Australia.