World Cup Technology Lesson

Further to my previous blog on the topic, I heard on TV that FIFA is to have two extra goal line officials in the World Cup to help detect incidents such as the Henry hand ball goal in the Ireland France World Cup qualifier match of 2009. I am not sure that the lesson has been learned, although I hope it has.

The fact that such an incident can occur is not the issue; these are normal in sport. The fact that the particular significant incident was missed by the referee and the match officials is not the issue either. It is to be expected that officials will miss many incidents that might merit an appropriate decision or follow-on action by the referee.

This was a highly-televised match. Powerful cameras were in place and the live game was being transmitted to a very large audience around the world. FIFA was taking in a very high amount of revenue from the event.

The lesson, as I see it, is that where high technology is being employed to make the detailed action of a match visible to a huge audience, and where some significant infringements of the rules are likely to be clearly visible to the TV audience, it does not make sense to deprive the referee and the match officials of the information that the entire TV audience has. A video referee could easily communicate significant incidents to the referee. It is well within the bounds of reason to be able to encapsulate this concept within the rules for the World Cup or other international mass audience sporting competitions. The engineering technology that is required already exists.