The case for technology in football

The maybes are barely worth pondering. Barely. The biggest one is worth a bit of a wistful glance, however. Maybe if Frank Lampard's goal had counted and England had gone in 2-2 at half time instead of having to chase the game from a goal behind, maybe the second half would have turned out differently. Maybe.

Fabio Capello's whinge about using technology at football matches seemed a bit limp after the event. He never mentioned it beforehand. But the patent ridiculousness of having giant screens around stadia that replay the action virtually instantaneously lends the debate about the use of technology in football a rather redundant air.

Even Fifa president Sepp Blatter admitted to journalists in Johannesburg today: "It is obvious that after the experience so far in this World Cup it would be a nonsense to not reopen the file of technology at the business meeting of the International FA Board in July.

"Personally," he said, "I deplore it when you see evident referee mistakes but it's not the end of a competition or the end of football, this can happen."

Blatter said he'd spoken to both the English and Mexican football authorities and "expressed to them apologies".

He added: "I understand they are not happy and that people are criticising. We will naturally take on board the discussion on technology and have a first opportunity in July at the business meeting."

Initially, FiFA said it would only reappraise the wisdom of showing replays on its big screen, after the Mexico debacle in which the screens showed Carlos Tevez to have been offside when he scored against Mexico and the miffed Mexicans in the crowd were going bananas.

It's one thing to stand in the crowd and think the bloke was offside when he scored. Or to believe the ball crossed the goal-line when the ref turned his nose up. It's a different thing to have it confirmed in HD, in slow motion, on a giant screen seconds after the event.

Football - for the most part - is played by human beings, with all their faults and foibles. The referee is never going to get every decision right every time and it is right and proper that his decision is final, no matter how short-sighted or biased he may be. But to refuse to countenance giving him a bit of help now and then is plain daft.

Fifa can be applauded for having resisted the march of technology for so long and, as recently as March it ruled out trying out any new ideas for the time being.

But the unfortunate decisions that may have cost England and Mexico so dear will have sent soccer's overlords back to the drawing board.

That Lampard's effort so obviously crossed the line made the whole event look more like a lottery than a game of skill. It barely hinders the flow of the game to call in the techno linesman in tennis, rugby or cricket matches.

Football will soon be following suit.