EPL Makes a Union with Technology

".. . as Rooney approaches the keeper , Petr Cech who is clearly off off his line in one- on-one situation . He takes a shot at goal which the keeper swiftly parries to his right... Robin van Persie gets possession of the ball and approaches the goal from the left hand side , with the keeper backtracking to his goal line. Robin quickly takes a low curly shot towards the left side of goal ; the keeper still retracting takes a dive to stop the goal bound shot. Yes ! He stopped the shot "on the line with his arms and upper torso behind the line" . GOOOAAAL! The crowd in the stadium erupts . Some in support of the goal and some for play to hopefully continue . Van Persie celebrates with a run to the fans at the corner flag while Terry guards the keeper to ward off any other offensive from the opposing team. The referee whose view was obstructed when the shot was stopped begins to approach the assistant referee at the far right of the pitch who is also at a loss whether to return to the centre line or not. Few seconds after, with no official decision through the blast of the whistle from the referee , players from both teams argue with flared tempers, the stadium goes into an uproar ... ” Scenarios like the one above which have proven to be the occasional dark spot in the history of the world’ s most popular sport will not occur this season. The English Premier League Board , that is made up of all the twenty premier league teams does not want any more of this kind of situations. They have decided to make the job easier for the referee with the aid of technology by approving the deployment of a Goal Decision System (GDS ) known as Hawk -Eye to give quick verdicts on situations like this during all premier league games . This decision is coming after nearly 10 years of skepticism around the introduction of technology into the game of football. Although other sports like Tennis , Cricket and Rugby have began the use of technology to aid in officiating, it was not the same for football because a greater percentage of football lovers felt introducing the technology might reduce the fun and thrills of the game. The Hawk-Eye Technology deploys seven cameras behind each goal to detect the motion of the ball. Within a second of detecting that the ball has crossed the line , the referee receives a text message on his wristwatch that notifies him that the ball and has crossed the line . The speed with which the referee gets notified has allayed the fears of many of the club managers who expressed fears about the timely notification from when the goal occurred. The League Board chose SONY’ S Hawk- Eye Technology as the preferred system to be deployed in the league and the technology was given demonstration test trials on some major premiership home grounds during the break. The Hawk-Eye technology has also been subjected to real life tests during the Community Shield game between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic and the International Friendly between England and Scotland where no controversial goal mouth situation occurred . FIFA tested a rival system developed by German company “Goal Control” at the Confederations Cup in Brazil in June. With the introduction of the goal line technology to the English Premier League, a great deal of difference is not expected to occur because goal line controversies are not common place in football. There were 31 goal line controversies during the previous season , all but three cases showed that the referees were right in the decision they took ( about 90% correct ). This indicates that the normal decision making process by the referees is not bad. But the referees who are desirous of improving on the accuracy of their decision making process with a view to increase the viewing pleasure of everyone involved have also supported the introduction of the technology. But if the introduction of goal line technology records success following its introduction in the English League, then there is the great hope that the technology might be accepted globally and instituted in the FIFA statutes as part of the game. The introduction of goal line technology into football in all competitions will bade a final farewell to the kind of goal decision controversies that will forever remain in the minds of football fans . Good examples of these controversies include Geoff Hurst's 'goal ' in 1966 World Cup final against West Germany that gave England the World Cup trophy, the Victor Ikpeba Penalty 'miss ' against Cameroun during the African Cup of Nations in the year 2000 and most recently , Frank Lampard 's ruled out goal against Germany at the 2010 World Cup . After more than a decade of campaigning for goal line technology there will almost certainly be a real sense of anti- climax when it is finally used in the league starting today. This is because the frenzy , frills and thrills surrounding the league will be the focus of the 'action starved' followers of the league and many will not notice the presence of seven cameras behind each goal . What becomes of this Union will be revealed as the League unfolds!
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