Football: French glitches put technology under review
PARIS, Jan 12, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The debate on using technology to help
football referees took a twist on Thursday as the French league suspended its
use of goal-line reviews following some “serious dysfunctions”.
The goal-line technology (GLT) system, provided by German company
GoalControl, was “suspended immediately” by French football authorities after
incidents in League Cup games on Wednesday between Amiens and Paris Saint-
Germain and Angers and Montpellier.
In Amiens, the problem centred around PSG’s second goal in a 2-0 victory.
Adrien Rabiot’s flicked header hit the post and bounced over the line before
goalkeeper Jean-Christophe Bouet pulled the ball back. However “the GLT did
not make the referee’s watch vibrate”, Didier Quillot, the director general
of the French league said in a conference call on Thursday.
In the second incident, which involved Montpellier defender Daniel Congre,
the problem was the reverse. The technology “made the referee’s watch vibrate
in error even though the ball taken by Daniel Congre passed far from the goal
“These two anomalies are unacceptable,” Quillot said.
Unlike the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which is being tried this season
in the Bundesliga and Serie A and has been used for the first time in England
in cup games in recent weeks, and involves an extra official watching
replays, GLT is supposed to respond automatically when the ball crosses the
goal line between the posts.
In October, Suzana Castaignede, a former GoalControl employee, told French
media that the system did not always function automatically and that
sometimes human operators had to intervene and make the referee’s watch
vibrate after the ball had crossed the line.
On Thursday, the French league signalled it might cancel the contract with
GoalControl which is due to run until 2019 and turn instead to its costlier
British competitor Hawk-Eye which supplies Serie A, the Premier League and
“The technology has to work,” said Quillot. “That’s not the case with the
first-generation that is being delivered by GoalControl.”
Perhaps France has reasons to look kindly on GoalControl. The company
provided the GLT which was used at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. It
awarded one goal: scored by France against Honduras.
– Ferocious debate –
These French hiccups come as the debate over technological assistance for
referees, whether it is GLT or VAR, is being ferociously debated.
For the coming World Cup in Russia, FIFA will again rely on GLT but has not
yet decided whether to use VAR, though the governing body of world football
has indicated that it would like to in four cases: goals, penalties, straight
red cards and mistaken identity.
The experiments with VAR in Germany and Italy are meeting with resistance.
In Italy, Lazio fans launched a legal action on December 20 against the
referee and video assistant who they say are to blame for two errors that
caused their club to lose 3-1 at home to Torino nine days earlier.
In Germany, the Bundesliga boasted that in the first half of the season
VAR helped prevent 37 potential result-changing wrong decisions. Yet in
November, ex-referee Hellmut Krug, head of the Bundesliga’s VAR centre in
Cologne, was replaced amid accusations that he influenced decisions to favour
Schalke, the club he supports.
This week, in a survey published in Kicker magazine, 47 per cent of German
professional players said they wanted VAR done away with while only 42 per
cent wanted to keep it (the other 11 per cent had no opinion).
In November, Germany internationals Sandro Wagner and Sami Khedira agreed
they liked the theory of VAR but not the implementation.
“We have to wait two minutes to get a decision and despite the video, too
many mistakes are still being made,” Wagner said.
Khedira made a point that was echoed by Rabiot after his goal on Wednesday
was not immediately given.
“The players do not know anymore whether or not to celebrate after a
goal,” Khedira said. “A lot of emotion and passion has been lost.”
In England, VAR made its debut on Monday as Brighton beat Crystal Palace in
the FA Cup with an 87th-minute goal by Glenn Murray. At the final whistle,
Palace players were still complaining to referee Andre Marriner that the goal
should have been disallowed either by him or by video assistant Neil
“The people close to it seemed to be incensed, and from our angle it looks
as if he’s guided the ball in with his arm,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said
before adding that the replays had changed his mind.
“When you watch it lots of times like they’ve been able to do, from
different angles, it would have been very harsh” to disallow it.
“It was a genuine goal.”