Hawkeye’s troubled courtship with football is well documented. Various controversies have occurred during both domestic and international matches involving ‘goals’ being disallowed by referees. These ‘goals’ are often disallowed despite television replays revealing they were actually valid. Fans, admittedly those of the losing sides of these mistakes, have repeatedly demanded that football organisations adopt review technology which can overrule these bad decisions.
Review technology is not unheard of within international sport, with tennis and cricket, most notably, utilising systems such as Hawkeye as part of their scoring systems. Indeed, after several years of heated debate, the Premier League announced in 2012 that Hawkeye would be installed in all of its teams’ stadiums to be ready to be used in the 2013/2014 season. This was a move which has been largely successful, despite mutterings from certain fans about the human element being taken out of the game.
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However, despite this successful implementation in England, the Scottish Football Association announced in 2013 that it would not be following the Premier League’s example. SFA’s head of operations, John Fleming, explained that whilst the association was in favour of goal-line technology, the £100,000 cost of installation on top of projected maintenance fees was simply too much expenditure for Scottish clubs. Instead, Fleming promised, the SFA would pump more money into training officials to limit future mistakes.
Barely had Fleming made this declaration when Hibernian, who are 1/100 to win the Scottish Championship in Scottish football betting, became the latest club to feel the sting of Hawkeye’s absence. Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths struck a stunning 30-yard free kick goal that would have provided them with their first win over derby rivals Hearts since 2009. But the goal was voided despite being three yards over the goal-line. Replays showed that this was the case but nothing could be done.
Since then the debate has raged on about the Hawkeye cost and it has been reflected across several international football leagues. It may be costly and ultimately only be needed sparingly. But as bigger, internationally recognised leagues begin to adopt the technology, it will only widen the gap between the leagues if other smaller organisations do not adopt this technology. Moreover, if only from a fairness perspective, even if the technology only corrects one wrong per season, surely this is money will spent from an integrity standpoint.
Whilst some are still sceptical of Hawkeye’s accuracy and feel that the human eye is intrinsically superior, this has simply not proven to be the case. It would be lovely to think that football, a classic sport, does not need to have its fundamentals tampered with. However, with other sports embracing the technology and making it a seamless addition to their dynamics, Scottish football is quickly running out of excuses to not get with the times.