Former UEFA president Lennart Johansson adamantly believes that goal-line technology has no place in the Champions League football, claiming that the game is for “humans and not for robots.”
The former president of the world’s biggest European soccer tournament expressed his support of his successor’s, Michel Platini, decision to ignore the calls for video replay in UEFA soccer in 2007 and the 80 year old Swede, who ran the UEFA for 17 years prior, believes that referee mistakes are part of the sport because of the notion that the officials are human and, therefore, can make mistakes. Johansson also expressed his support of the current system set in place that allows two extra refs to focus on the goal line of each side of the pitch:
I believe in the idea that Platini put forward when he said we could have two extra men on the field. Perhaps two referees, but then one behind each goal standing there watching, who could see immediately when the ball is inside the line or not. I face facts that referees are human and humans make mistakes. This is a game for humans and not for robots.
I find the former UEFA president’s quote to be fascinating considering it is the first time I have heard anything at all about the possible installation of robots into the game. I mean for years FOX has had those annoying robots that play football before the kickoff of the televised game, but never did I think that soccer would become run by the FOX robots.
But I digress.
I must admit that (once again) I completely disagree with what Platini’s predecessor Johansson is saying here. To say that official errors are part of the sport and should be accepted just like how the players make mistakes is ridiculous because in one case the mistakes made (errant kicks, hard fouls, poor dribbling or passing) are all part of the game and are part of the reason why we all watch. On the other hand, the mistakes being made by the officials on the pitch are avoidable and should be avoided if at all possible.
Goal line technology, the debate of installing cameras to review the goal line of each side of the pitch, is not some bizarre scenario from Brave New World or any other science fiction dystopia. In fact the rule has already been installed in the NHL and has positively affected many close matches. Video review doesn’t make the officials look foolish; it saves the officials from looking really foolish.
And count them up. NFL obviously uses the challenge system and inside 2 minute booth review, the NHL uses goal line technology, NCAA football uses booth reviews, MLB baseball uses video review for close home runs, NBA basketball uses review for shot clock scenarios and last second shots, several Olympic sports use certain video reviews in order to judge competitions, boxing matches and MMA fights use video review after the matches in order to hand out punishment for any illegal moves used that the ref might not have caught, and even the Little League World Series used the challenging system of review this summer.
In other words if using advanced video technology in order to guarantee that a call was made correctly on the spot means that we are overly supporting robotic sports then I would say that apparently robotic sports has already won out nearly all of organized sports. And I’m sure if you asked the head of each one of these sports leagues that uses video review the reason why, they would tell you because it is the best system used to correctly result in making the right decision. After all it’s not like the video surveillance room would be run by robots. In fact the people orchestrating the reviews would be the most trusted human officials in the sport and their job would be to ensure that their ref friends on the field had a strong support system that had their back.
Because humans make mistakes after all and the best way to correct these errors in judgment is by overturning the call by installing the proper on-the-spot technology. And goal line technology is the best solution to the problem at the moment.
That is until robot refs are invented sometime in the future.