The former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein insists there is too much at stake in football to hold back on the introduction of technology and has said that referees are a "endangered species". Costly and questionable refereeing decisions have prompted hot debate on the issue over recent years, most prominently on whether technology could be used to decide whether a ball has crossed the goal-line.
Speaking during a presentation at the four-day Soccerex 08 in Gauteng, a convention which focused on the current state of the game, Dein called for goal-line technology to be brought in, adding that expanding the use beyond that should remain open to discussion. "The game has moved on," he said. "We are logging mistakes that a club pays for in cash. A mistake where a club does not qualify for the Champions League and loses £10m, a mistake where a club gets relegated and costs a lot more than that and the club may never get back in the Premiership again.
"I believe that referees are an endangered species. Nobody ever says 'the referee had a great game', they always say the opposite. It's always something that the referee hasn't done. So I believe that they need help. Things are not always what they seem. Refs can miss something because they're not looking directly at it. It's easy to miss something you're not looking at."
Dein, who left the Gunners in April last year, claimed it was unfair on managers and players to continue to shun the available technology. "We're not trying to sanitise the game, one might say it's about technology, particularly about goal-line technology," he said. "That's what everybody works hard for, the coaches are working six days a week for the big game, so that they can get the ball over the other team's goal-line. There is technology today, it's been introduced in tennis and they can't tell me technology is not there. Forty years ago, America put a man on the moon. So the technology is there. I know that Fifa [the world governing body] are looking at it, there's talk in Uefa [Europe's equivalent] too about putting maybe another two assistants, maybe two men behind the goal to check, but can they actually beat the cameras that can see from various angles?"
Dein added: "What we're looking for here is to use technology for the benefit of the game to help the referees make the right decision. We're not trying to talk about whether it was offside or not, there has to be a start somewhere and this has to start with the goal-line."