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Football Goal Disputes

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 02 March 2010

Between 1880 and 1890, the game of football was transformed by a growing professionalism. Suddenly disagreements which had previously been settled in a gentlemanly way between captains were becoming rancorous. Professional teams who were now paying wages and getting crowds of several thousands wanted to win. The goalposts needed changing and in came the cross tape. But that wasn't good enough, so the cross bar was installed. Then came referees to make the decisions previously agreed by captains. But when, on 26 October 1889, a game between Everton and Accrington at the Anfield ground in Liverpool descended into a near riot over a disputed goal, an engineer in the crowd thought he had the answer. John Alexander Brodie's Goal Net was patented a year later. He met the Football Association and, after some initial trials, they decided that the net was a very good way of assisting referees and encouraged all clubs to use them.

So what holds back today's authorities from using the modern camera technology that might have changed Ireland's fate in the recent World Cup play-off? There was another disputed goal at the African Cup of Nations, Cameroon losing out on that occasion. Rugby has adopted cameras and a fourth official with access to the pictures, cricket is moving that way and tennis has taken up the referred line call.

So should football take the Long View and use the available technology or is the reticence to do something more indicative of our culture and time? Are we as ready as the Victorians to accept the new?



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