Lampard’s Goal to Press for Rule Changes

Congratulations to Spain. Congratulations to South Africa. The World Cup has been a success. The Spanish victory has spurned some of the most loved football clichés: a victory for football; the best team one. The tournament has had its fair share of controversy. Perhaps most notably Uruguay’s Luis Suarez save in the dying minutes of the match against Ghana – a save that any goal-keeper would have been proud of. England fans suffered at the hands of Jorge Larrionda - the referee in control of the game against Germany where Frank Lampard invoked memories of ’66; the goal not given this time around. Lampard’s strike threw international focus on the long-standing debate concerning the use of technology in football. This incident caused both fans, industry professionals and commentators to question FIFA’s March 2010 decision not to introduce goal line technology into the game. This debate has been a much contested topic, stemming back to 1999 when the Football League requested permission to install cameras in goalposts for the League Cup final. The proposal was rejected by FIFA who have to date managed to avoid changing the rules. Many traditionalists consider that to introduce such technology would alter the nature of the game, slowing its pace. People from this school of thought argue that the room for human error in the game keeps it exciting. Others consider that the sport needs to move on should it be credible in modern twenty-first century society. Other sports including rugby league, union, tennis and cricket make use of technology without detriment to the sport. Due to the errors made by the world cup official’s there has been renewed calls for technology to be introduced. Ultimately the decision falls on the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The IFAB is comprised of 4 representatives from FIFA and one each from each of the UK football associations – in what FIFA describes as “an abiding acknowledgement of the historic significance of the British association in world football”. Each member can propose matters for discuss at the AGM that occurs in February or March. To effect a rule change a member must forward a written requests or proposal to alter the Laws of the Game for discussion to the secretary of the association hosting the AGM by 1 December the previous year. This is then distributed to the members of the IFAB by 1 February. FIFA has four votes on behalf of all its affiliated member associations. The other associations of the IFAB each have one vote each. For a proposal to succeed, it must receive the support of at least three-quarters of those present and able to vote. The decision made by the IFAB at the AGM will bind confederations and member associations as from 1 July following each AGM. Confederations or member associations whose season has not ended by 1 July may delay the introduction of the adopted laws until the beginning of their next season. No alterations can be made to the Laws of the Game by any confederation or member association unless it has been passed by the board. The FIFA representatives normally include the President and the General Secretary. Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, speaking since the England versus Germany game said about the possible introduction of goal line technology: “something has to be changed” - a stance he reiterated on Thursday. FIFA General Secretary, Jerome Valcke has said: "The teams and the players are so strong and so fast. The game is different and the referees are older than all the players. The game is so fast, the ball is flying so quickly, we have to help them and we have to do something and that's why I say it is the last World Cup under the current system." With FIFA showing support for the introduction of goal line technology, the onus appears to be on the British Associations to make up the three-quarter majority needed for a rule change. With England being the latest victim of the IFAB failure to introduce goal-line technology to date it seems certain that technology will be introduced.

Published July 15, 2010

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