It was the last 16 -knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, England were trailing 2-1 in Johannesburg to historical rivals Germany in the 39th minute, the ball dropped to Frank Lampard who spectacularly lifted the ball over the German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, hitting the crossbar and bouncing down over the goal line. As the whole of the nation watching on began to celebrate it appeared that referee Jorge Larrionda had allowed play to continue, not giving the goal to England. This sparked the major debate as to whether digital technology should be utilised within gameplay of Football.
This moment was described as the tipping point for technology in Football, sparking the need for correct judgements to be made about whether the ball has crossed the goal line or not, and looking back at it in an interview Frank Lampard in his own words said….
“It changed the game for the better, so I am pleased about that”
England went on to lose the game 4-1, being knocked out of the tournament, however the infamous goal that never stood was heavily involved in FIFA’s decision to introduce goal-line technology into the game. Prior to the tournament in March FIFA president at the time Sepp Blatter negotiated with the International Football Association board (IFAB) which holds power over the laws of the game, persuading them to support a movement towards keeping technology out of the game in the future. The FIFA president suggested that it would disrupt the free flowing movement of the game, and that football at the World stage should be played the same as it would be in the park. Despite this we have seen it successfully implemented at a professional level in sports such as Tennis, Cricket and Rugby Union.
Passionate football fans just take a minute to recall previous controversial decisions throughout the history of Football. Example number one from January 2005, Manchester United v Tottenham at Old Trafford, when Pedro Mendes struck a 55 yard shot up into the air from just inside the opposition half, and for a second it seemed that the United keeper Roy Carroll had taken into his arms with ease until it slipped out of his grasp and just crossed the line before he scooped it out quickly, luckily for him the referee didn’t spot that it had gone over the line, and Carroll’s embarrassments were saved.
Example number two from November 2009, it was the second leg between France and the Republic of Ireland in the play-offs for the final place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the tournament where Lampard’s ghost goal would take place. The game was tied 1-1 on aggregate and had been taken to extra time, and in the 102nd minute France’s Florent Malouda fired a teasing free kick to the back post where legendary Barcelona striker Thierry Henry was waiting to put the ball across for centre back William Gallas to head into an empty net, putting the French 2-1 to the good and looking as if the final qualification place would be theirs. However immediately after the goal had been scored, the reaction of the entire Irish defence made it clear that something had occurred that shouldn’t have in the eyes of the football law, and they were correct.
France went on to win the game, and as you can see from the video above the Irish following were not happy at all, and rightly felt as though their country had been robbed, because if the game was being played by the rulebook, then the goal scored by France was an act of cheating. Thierry Henry was honest enough to admit to his wrong doings after the game, however stated that he was reluctant to admit it to the referee when the goal was scored, as he felt as though that wasn’t his job, and believed that such an occurrence had happened against himself in the 2001 FA cup final when playing for Arsenal. However this never effected the result of the game. And as controversial as this moment was, it still wasn’t enough to change the way the game was played in terms of video technology. However Lampard’s “goal” caused the FIFA President to alter his and FIFA’s views on technology as an organisation.
It took until the summer of 2012 for it finally to be agreed that goal-line technology would be brought into the game, with the Hawk-eye system being debuted in the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup. The concept of Hawk-eye involves a number of specifically placed cameras around the pitch, that can capture angles of play that the human referee may not be able to see in real time, to support the officials in the accuracy of their decision making, and it was introduced into the English Premier League the following year which was the 2013-14 season.
Since then Hawk -eye has become an integral part of professional football and is now utilised across some of the top leagues in Europe, making the beautiful game more just, secure, intelligent and appealing.