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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January 2005, 14:08 GMT
Football fights shy of technology
By Julian Shea

Cristiano Ronaldo (l) and Pedro Mendes (r)
Where's the 1966 linesman when you need him?

That is what Tottenham fans must have thought after referee Mark Clattenburg and assistant Ray Lewis denied Pedro Mendes a goal on Tuesday against Manchester United when the ball had crossed the line.

Tuesday's incident brought the dispute to prominence yet again, but other than supporting "technology that would improve decision-making while not disrupting the game", football's authorities still seem wary of technology.

Former Bolton manager Colin Todd learnt about questionable decisions the hard way.

In Bolton's first home game of the 1997-98 season, Gerry Taggart's header hit the underside of the bar and bounced across the line, before being hacked away by Everton's Terry Phelan.

It ended 0-0, and at the end of the season Bolton were relegated on goal difference - one place behind Everton.

Todd, now manager of Bradford, says he cannot believe the matter has not yet been resolved.

"It's gone on for years, and keeps appearing because nobody does anything about it," he told BBC Sport.

"Why not give it a trial period, to say yes or no? I think it will definitely come in, but it's too late for a lot of clubs and managers."

Critics may be squeamish about technology, but as Todd points out, it is already being used.

"Players are being punished for things that have been missed by refs, so why can't it be used in the case of a game?"

Other sports have been less reluctant.

We hope to have it in every Super League game in the future - it creates great theatre
RFL's Stuart Cummings

Rugby League introduced video referees in 1996, when Super League started.

Stuart Cummings, the Rugby Football League's match officials director, says it now seems strange to imagine life without the drama of T-R-Y time.

"Officials were wary of it at first, but now it's an important part of their armoury," said Cummings.

"It was part of the new package, but it was needed," he said.

"There were lots of try-scoring situations where it was hard to see whether the ball had been touched down," he said.

"It's still only used for televised games, but we hope to have it in every Super League game in the future - it creates great theatre."

Two years after Super League introduced it, Australia's National Rugby League followed suite, and it is now accepted internationally.

At last year's Superset tennis exhibition event at Wembley, the Hawkeye system was used as an experiment.

"The International Tennis Federation has looked at this sort of technology," said the Lawn Tennis Association's Bill Perkins.

"Their view is that, at the moment, none of it is accurate enough to be used at the highest level.

"Everybody knows humans make errors and with technology, you are always going to have officials who make mistakes being shown up.

"But my view is that it's only a matter of time before these kind of things come in to support officials, and rightly so."

Some might say the law of averages means that, in the long run, errors even themselves out.

But at the moment, that is unlikely to make Tottenham fans feel any better.

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Bookies pay out on Spurs 'goal'
05 Jan 05 |  Football

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