Given that many in the English game do not have a high opinion of Sepp Blatter, it’s ironic that his replacement as FIFA president last year by Michel Platini would have stopped goal-line technology in its tracks – again.
Three years ago the International Football Association Board decided that experimentation with GLT should be halted in favour of pressing ahead with Platini’s own favoured goal-line assistants.
Platini has not changed his views even though Blatter was forced into throwing off his own Luddite tag during the 2010 World Cup finals by the phantom goal denied to Frank Lampard during England’s second round defeat by Germany in Bloemfontein.
Indeed, Platini would doubtless be happy to have seen the old cliché that, in football, everything evens itself out over time, apparently proven at Wembley on Sunday. This time Lampard was on the right side of a bad decision when his team – Chelsea this time – were awarded that phantom goal by referee Martin Atkinson in their 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham.
Platini believes that football’s greatest strength is the human element. This is why, if he were president of FIFA and commanding the world federation’s law-blocking votes on IFAB, he would have seen goal-line technology condemned into the everlasting black hole of football history.
UEFA chief executive Gianni Infantino as good as admitted earlier this month that the European federation – even if IFAB approves one or both GLT systems when it meets in Kyiv on July 2 – will not consider using it for the European Championship or for the Champions League or for the Europa League.
Yet this runs counter to Platini’s own desire to provide more of a level playing field to help the little guys to compete with the giants, whether at national team or club level.
During the recent Soccerex European Forum, Manchester City’s development director Patrick Vieira undertook an interview with BBC in which he was interpreted as having suggested that United benefited from their power when it came to refereeing decisions.
City and Vieira were upset at that interpretation and protested long and loud at his having been misrepresented. But smaller clubs and their managers and their players have long expressed that opinion – not only in England but in just about every competition in football worldwide.
No-one is suggesting that luckless Martin Atkinson was under any pressure from anyone or anything except the occasion on Sunday. As Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp said: “It was an honest mistake.”
But goal-line technology would have protected Atkinson; it would have protected Tottenham; it would have protected the credibility of Chelsea’s victory had they gone on to claim it in any case . . . and it would have protected the credibility of the game.
Theo Zwanziger, the man not wanted by the German federation to run its own domestic game any more, has been charged with undertaking a revision of FIFA’s statutes.
Zwanziger is a declared opponent of the IFAB system with its FIFA/Britain split vote. Presumably he favours bringing the rule of laws more directly under the control of FIFA itself. That may well mean, from 2015, Michel Platini.
Now there’s an intriguing consideration looking ahead to FIFA’s election congress in 2015 . . .
By Keir Radnedge