Computers are rubbish

I’VE now seen two computer reconstructions of Reading’s winning goal against Sunderland: both taken from the same footage. The BBC’s animation showed that the ball did not cross the line, Sky’s showed that it did. Well, that’s brilliant.

Similarly, I’ve now seen two reconstructions of Elano’s goalline clearance during Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa. The BBC’s reconstruction showed it was just over the line, Sky’s showed it wasn’t quite in. Fantastic. Bring on the technology tomorrow.

I actually think there is a place for technology in football; as long as it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game. You would need the memory of a goldfish not to recall the farce of the Rugby World Cup final, when it took the best part of five minutes to decide that Mark Cueto’s foot was in touch when he thought he had scored against South Africa.

(And I still have nightmares about the evening I was on a Friday late shift at the Manchester Evening News, ticking towards a 10pm deadline, watching a rugby league match between Wigan and Wakefield on Sky Sports with helpless exasperation as the video referee took eons to decide whether David Solomona had scored a winning try or not.)

I don’t see, though, why the fourth official can’t double up as a video referee at Premier League matches, where there are the facilities (and a sufficient number of cameras) to view key incidents again quickly.

If the fourth official spots something the referee has missed on a TV replay, he can let him know through his earpiece. Quick decision, no need to interrupt the flow of the game.

In return, though, it would be nice if the TV companies could admit, just once in a while, that technology does not have all the answers.

For all the cameras at the Madejski Stadium and Villa Park on Saturday, for all the computer reconstructions, there was ultimately no conclusive evidence to suggest that the officials got either decision wrong.

And in those circumstances, an ex-footballer sitting in a studio arguing that the referee can’t give a decision if he’s not sure comes across as nothing more an attempt to create controversy out of uncertainty.

After all of those replays, the best that Gray, Hansen, Shearer and Co could come up with was the suggestion that the ref and linesman at Reading and Villa might have been wrong.

That ain’t good enough. After all, a ref can’t look at an incident several times and then wimp out of making a decision by saying: “Was it in? I’m not so sure.”

Why should TV pundits get off so lightly?

One to debate over the turkey. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and I will return on Boxing Day.

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One Response to Computers are rubbish

  1. […] in the Premier League last December, when not only was video evidence inconclusive, but the BBC and Sky’s computer simulations of the incident came up with completely different […]

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