Comment: Technology changes the game, and in the case of a TV monitor to help the referee, it would be a change for the better... just ask Andre Marriner

Crossbars and nets were technological enhancements that improved the game

We live in an age that permits same-sex marriages, that is poised to demolish the lingering barriers to female membership at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club after 260 years: surely it is not beyond us to push the button on the use of increased technology in football.

The widespread resistance from bright people to the use of technological aids that might assist referees in any way possible renews classic tensions between the certainties of the known versus the uncertainties of the new.

The Viking community was once split over those who wanted to sail west in search of new treasures and those who wanted to return to the familiar hunting grounds to the east. A few brave souls pushed on against prevailing thinking and fell across England, bringing to the locals, after a bloody start, a new way of doing business.

And how grateful, after their world had been utterly reshaped, were the flat earth community for the scientific contributions of Copernicus, who confirmed in the first half of the 16th century what the ancient Greeks had first believed, that we walked not on a level playing field but a sphere.

Football’s machine-breakers continue to rail against change, claiming it would fundamentally alter the game as we know it. Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League, was the latest to express this view over the weekend.

It wouldn’t do anything of the sort. It would simply improve the efficiency of the decision-making.

What is so great about mistakes made by referees that the present system should be preserved? The point surely is that we reach the correct decision. What possible objection could there be to that?

Had Andre Marriner had access to a third eye in a control room with monitors, he would have been able to identify Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as Arsenal’s ad hoc goalkeeper at Chelsea last week and even determine the colour of the appropriate card. The idea that this would force an unacceptable break in play is nonsense.

The problem is resolved in seconds for TV viewers, who are bombarded with coverage from all angles. Marriner could have been advised of the truth that escaped him in real time before the ball had been thrown back into play and Kieran Gibbs would not have been sent off.

The idea of a review system to allow managers to challenge decisions is a red herring. The referee’s authority remains inviolable. The technology is not there for managers and coaches to contest decisions but for referees to do their job.

Yes, football might never be the same. It might be better. Since the sport seems incapable of curing itself of the appalling treatment by players and managers of referees and the abhorrent culture of dissent that feeds it, the appropriation of technology would remove at a stroke the justification of the complainants.

No more would the gum-chewing ranter on the touchline be justified in his puerile attacks. The whole post-match discourse would shift. No longer would coaches and players be justified in diverting responsibility for goals conceded from their own shoulders to the officials.

The old Luddites in power are, as ever, slow to react. The conservative reflex that binds them, the resistance to change for fear of losing something essential from the game, damages rather than protects football’s integrity. Where might the game be if those old reactionaries at Blackheath had had their way in 1863 when the Football Association at birth rid the ancient sport of the hacking tackle? Rugby is where.

The introduction of crossbars to replace tape and nets attached to the goal frame were 19th-century technological enhancements that improved the game by making it easier to establish that a goal had been scored. Now we have the Goal Decision System in the Premier League, and who would argue that that bit of kit has not taken the story on?

Technology’s opponents labour under the delusion that the essential nature of the game changes with its introduction. Not so. As long as technology remains in the employ of the referee, then nothing changes since absolute authority rests with him.

But what about the breaks in play? My guess is it would take the referee less time to establish clarity via a link to a colleague in the control centre than it would to bring order to the cast of baying dogs snapping at his heels protesting one case or another.

Technology is all around, at the service of the audience at home, explaining in high definition the rights and wrongs of decisions. It ought to be at the disposal of the referee, just as in rugby and cricket, bringing into sharp relief detail beyond the capacity of the naked eye to register. Breaks in play in those examples enhance rather than kill the drama. So let’s kill the objections and switch on to the modern era.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?