In an unexpected move, the International Federation of Association Football, soccer's governing body, this week pulled the plug on plans to implement a state-of-the-art scoring system. Instead of introducing the dual technologies—a sidelines camera and in-ball chip—officials have opted for a decidedly low-tech solution for better determining whether a goal was scored: two additional linesmen.
FIFA's decision surprised its potential partners as much as fans. Hawk-Eye, a camera-based program that has received rave reviews in cricket and tennis, was close to finalizing a system for the English Premiere League. "I'm livid, it is completely out of the blue," Hawk-Eye managing director Paul Hawkins said. "A year ago they set four criteria that had to be met, so they obviously wanted it then. We have invested an awful lot of money and now we have no return on that investment." The second technology, developed by Adidas, relied on a chip implanted in the ball itself.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter who had previously supported goal-line technology changed his tune. "Let it be as it is and let's leave [soccer] with errors," Blatter said. "The television companies will have the right to say [whether the ref] was right or wrong, but still the referee makes the decision—a man, not a machine."
The acceptance of "errors," is mind-boggling when technology exists to get it right. FIFA's action bucks the spreading trend: Already, nearly every sport has implemented replay in some capacity. For Americans still confused as to how a game can end in a tie, it further cements soccer's reputation as a sport more concerned with tradition than accuracy. And in the face of these impressive technologies, a "solution" of additional linesmen borders on the absurd. Two more sets of eyes will only makes soccer look that much more foolish once a TV replay shows the call was still blown.
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The referee's errors are part of the game. It is not "mind boggling" as you say. Music is better if there are errors and it's not obviously done by a computer; soccer is the same way. It would mess up the game if the referee's calls were perfect. Next we would be planning the game so nobody would get hurt.
Anybody else remember "It's not about whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game?"
Technology seems to improve function in a lot of areas (a premise most of us PopSci readers probably hold true) where accuracy is the highest priority, but that priority is a function of the end-result. For example, accuracy is important in surgery because the possible results are either life or death.
Sports, however, are (or should be) a different story. Pick your priority, and you'll have your opinion on this article ready-made. What's more important: a sense of community, tradition, and camaraderie (which serves to uplift the individuals who play the games and their fans), or technical accuracy and proper scoring (which, as I see it, determines how many millions of dollars flow from one franchise's ticket sales, endorsements, and world cup merchandise)?
In my mind, sports technology exists primarily to make a rich owner richer--where does the investment money come form? Not from the fans, but from those who stand to profit from the sideline cams and implanted chips: merchandisers, owners, promoters, agents, and all the other leeches that so detract from the game itself.
I think it’s refreshing to actually not let technology take over a sport for once and alter the true essence of the game.
It is sickening that PopSci would heap scorn on a decision by FIFA that would preserve the game's time-tested integrity.
As a referee of soccer I am trained to make calls based on judgment. The 17 Laws of Soccer are often based on intent, not always clearly definable or measurable by machines. I wish that the test for certification were as easy as memorizing several parameters.
The introduction of these machines would have destroyed the camaraderie of the soccer community and set the integrity of the game in peril. I applaud FIFA and the EPL for upholding what is truly right, not simply what is flashy and cheap.
And high-level soccer matches DO NOT end in ties!
Couldn't care less about soccer, but this is a great move.
Now, if somebody would chuck all of the football replay cr*p
These are games, the errors and the arguing are part of the experience. How else can fans debate the outcome for years to come.
I also think that the refs usually get it right. In the NFL, the coaches rate the refs -- at least they used to. Since all the coaches rate them, you'd think that the most accurate refs would get the highest scores.
Anyway, I've long suspected that gambling was the real motivation behind a lot of the high tech refereeing stuff.
Makes figuring the odds a little easier I would think
soccer should be played as it has always been played, and no machines are needed. if there is an error, it adds to the excitement. this is not a medical procedure, and 100% accuracy tends to make anything dull. we need the excitement of the uncertain...the ref bungles, unnoticed fouls..etc....its SOCCER. viva FIFA. in fact we should not have the extra linesman anyways