The voices shouting for goal-line technology may be getting louder, but Pele is calling for extra time on introducing it to the beautiful game
We're nearing the end of 2012's European Championships, and we're still left with so many questions. What happened to the Dutch? Why was there a naked man behind the England goal during the penalty shoot-out against Italy? What are all these extra officials actually supposed to do?
Unfortunately, as we all could have predicted, the question of goal-line technology continues to rear it's ugly head as hosts Ukraine found themselves on the wrong end of another bad decision (if you an offside call, also not given, in the build up).
The idea of football embracing technology continues to divide those in and outside of the game with FIFA set to make a decision on its introduction in July this year. There is one man who is still not convinced on using tech to banish the 'ghost' goal. Scorer of over 1,000 goals, World Cup-winning legend Pele sat down with T3 to tell us what he thinks about the great tech in football debate. Here's what he had to say.
It is a simple fact that the more quickly the game of football moves, the better it is. This is a world away from sports like tennis, Formula 1 or American football, and this point shouldn’t be forgotten in the renewed rush to bring in goal-line technology.
As coverage of the game increases, so does the technology used to cover it and, after Euro 2012 this year, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is set to be the most analysed football event yet. While you can argue this is good for the game, it’s undoubtedly bad for referees. Very bad.
You can say, “Oh the referee made a mistake,” but referees have to decide on the spot whether it is a foul or not, while players sometimes play dirty – that is football. Of course, you can use a camera to help decisions, but at what expense to the game?
I understand the calls for decisions to be correct in this economic age of sponsors and sky-high salaries. I am not even against changing the game, if it’s necessary. You look at the boots that players use now – the different materials, how light they are, the style statements they make – and they’re fantastic. I scored 1,281 goals in my career, but if I had been lucky enough to have played with boots like these I’d have scored double.
I even wrote in my autobiography a few years ago that I wanted to have free-kicks without walls, but to me it’s all about fairness. When I used to play I would go past one, two, three players then the last one would make a foul outside the area, always from behind and right on the line, but it was no penalty. All the players would then go back on the line against me. It should be just the last player who made the foul in the wall, not all the others. You’ve already gone past the whole midfield, you shouldn’t have to face them again. You see, walls are fundamentally not fair.
But there’s a difference between fairness and eliminating errors. Mistakes are always going to happen. Football is a very quick game and you have to make decisions in the blink of an eye. The thinking behind goal-line technology is if the referee believes the ball may have crossed the line, he’ll stop play and ask someone in a TV studio and they will say “yes” or “no”. But what happens if the other team mounts a quick counter-attack? How do you know you’re not preventing them from scoring? Sure, if it’s a goal, everything’s okay, but if the fourth official agrees it didn’t cross the line, you’ve proved a point but you’ve stopped the fl ow of the game and potentially prevented a goal, which again isn’t fair.
In sports where you stop regularly, this is fine, you have the time to check calls, but with football you always keep on running, it’s just too complicated. Geoff Hurst’s goal for England in the 1966 World Cup Final against Germany was so quick, would it have stood under examination? I’d much prefer extra referees behind each goal to help judge whether the ball has crossed the line and if a penalty should be given.
In fact, goal-line technology has already proved problematic. In Dubai they’ve carried out experiments with a chip in the ball, but when the goalkeeper covered the chip, it didn’t work. If you use tech and still don’t get it right every time, it doesn’t increase fairness, so why implement it at all? Let’s not rush into goal-line tech, but take time to consider it.
The Pele Sports football boot and clothing line is available now at pele-sports.com.