CROSSING THE LINE by Don McMahon
This title is somewhat ambiguous as it can refer to a movement of an object when it crosses a specific line or delimiting indicator as well as referring to someone’s willingly transgressing specific limits or laws. It can also indicate a statistical tendency or even a writing style.
In this instance however I am examining the Law 10 – the method of scoring
A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.
It is complimented by Law 9 – ball in and out of play but Law 10 is crucial in determining whether teams lose, win or tie and therefore has a Law reserved for this topic.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about who determines whether a goal has been scored or not. The definitive answer is that the referee is the sole decider of this fact, but he or she always bases the final decision on their assistant’s advice, since the referee is rarely in a position to actually determine whether the ball has entirely crossed the goal-line, in most instances. With the advent of goal-line technology, officials have a tremendously useful tool to help them, in making that crucial decision.
This past weekend against Tottenham, it ¨appeared¨ the Arsenal had scored but the goal-line replay proved beyond a doubt that the ball did not entirely cross the line,despite many images that seemed to display that it had.
Basically, the whole of the ball means the farthest external surface of the ball (being curved and therefore always elevated above the line) must be past the delimiting goal-line and not covering ANY part of said line. Again, if one looks at the ball from a point directly above the ball and the goal-line, the ball must be completely past the goal-line, between the goialposts and under the crossbar thus fully inside the net. We are talking millimeters here so the human eye is not rapid enough nor capable of seeing such differences accurately, especially when the official is a good distance away. In the case of the supposed goal, Lloris cleared the ball off the line therefore there was no goal.
It was a good use of goal-line technology and proves definitively that such technology enhances the officials’ ability to make the right call AND it also renders the game fairer and more enjoyable. It would have been a shame for the Arsenal to win on an injustly awarded goal so anyone who respects the spirit of football and fair-play applauds this appropriate use of technology.
As an official, one of the events any referee or assistant dreads is the questionable goal. I have, in my time as a professional linesman, suffered two occasions where my decision about whether the goal was valid or not determined the outcome of a match. On both occasions I was vilified by the team, the fans and manager against whom those goals were scored, as both goals ended in wins for their opponents. If I was to be perfectly honest, while I was well placed to see whether the ball crossed the line or not, I did say a silent prayer that I hadn’t made a mistake. When I reviewed the game video with the assessor and the referee, there was no doubt that both calls were correct but it proved to be a tense time and I’d never have to make such a call again.
Why should officials have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? We desperately NEED to cross the line between goal-line technology and video replays. We are almost there as Fifa is beginning to come around to the idea, thanks in great part to the Dutch Federation, whose courageous and intelligent application of the latter promises to relieve more stress from the officials already frail shoulders,
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