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This debate will not stop on the line

sports Updated: Jul 07, 2012 02:00 IST

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Soccer's rulemakers are adamant that the use of technology will go no further than the goal-line, yet there is an uncomfortable feeling another Thierry Henry-style handball controversy could trigger a whole new debate.

Thursday's decision to allow the use of applied science to help the referee decide whether the ball has entered the goal or not, ended a decade of argument and came amid pressure from players, coaches and the media.

Having given their approval, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), responsible for the laws of the game, and soccer's governing body Fifa insisted that any further forms of technology would not be considered.

But they had said exactly the same thing about goal-line technology less than three years ago, only to perform an abrupt U-turn after Frank Lampard’s infamous phantom goal for England against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

UEFA president Michel Platini is among those who fear that Thursday's ruling will open the floodgates for other forms of technology to be introduced.

"I am not just wholly against goal-line technology, I am against technology itself because then it is going to invade every area of football," he warned last week.

“Why don't we have technology for offside decisions as well? And what about Diego Marado-na’s ‘Hand of God’ goal in 1986? Why don’t we have technology to see if Maradona handled it? Where does it stop? It won’t stop. I am against technology itself.”

The number of cases where goals have been wrongly awarded or disallowed is relatively small. Most injustices come from incorrectly awarded offside decisions and penalties or players who are either wrongly sent off or stay on the field when they should have been dismissed, and any contentious incident in the future is bound to spark new demands.

However, IFAB members were adamant this would not happen.

"Goal-line technology is where this starts and finishes for us," said Alex Horne, English FA general secretary and one of four representatives from the British associations on the board.

While the two systems being introduced can inform the referee within one second of the incident, video replays would involve either having to stop the game or wait for a break in the action. Stopping play to study a penalty claim would deny the defending team, which might have fairly won the ball, the opportunity to launch a counter-attack of their own. On the other hand, allowing it to continue could force the referee to nullify two or three minutes of play, possibly involving further incidents.

"The beauty of football in my mind is its fluidity and, of course, we would be removing that from the game which would be a great shame as far as I'm concerned," said Welsh FA general secretary Jonathan Ford.

"There have been so many instances where play has gone straight down the other end of the pitch after a disallowed goal. When do you say stop?"

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