At World Cup, goal-line tech causes controversy

During France vs. Honduras, most naked eyes say the ball didn't cross the goal line, but new technology disagreed.

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Was it a goal? Or could the tech be wrong? GifDSports/Vine screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

As all things that are meant to be infallible, new technology being used in the 2014 World Cup has caused a stir.

The whole world was relieved that FIFA, the often retrograde organizing body behind the World Cup, staggered into the 20th century and decided to use goal-line technology to automatically detect when a ball crosses the goal line. In many World Cups past, balls that had clearly crossed the line weren't given as goals because the referee or his assistants couldn't be sure. (Or just weren't looking.)

However, in Sunday's match between France and Honduras, there was a new sound in a World Cup stadium: fans booing the technology.

Here's what happened: France, already leading 1-0, was on the attack. The ball came through to Real Madrid star Karim Benzema. His shot struck a post. As the ball bounced across the face of the goal, still in the field of play, it hit Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares and headed into the goal. Valladares frantically leaned back to scoop it out before it crossed the line. However, the GoalControl technology signaled to the referee that it was a goal -- doubling France's lead.

A thousand instant replays were launched. Few naked eyes would suggest they saw with certainty that the ball crossed the line.

Further confusion was caused by a message appearing on the huge screen in the stadium saying, "No goal!" -- but it was referring to Benzema hitting the post, not Valladares' scramble, according to reports from the Estadio Beira-Rio. You can begin to understand why the Honduras fans were aggrieved.

On the ABC commentary in the US, former US goalkeeper Kasey Keller said he saw nothing to convince him that the ball had crossed the line.

If it did, it can only have been by the tiniest number of millimeters. Clearly, there will be justifications issued and experts released to offer their brains.

However, there was something curiously bracing and futuristic about hearing so many Honduras fans raging against the machine.

Editors' note Monday June 16: Added paragraph beginning, "Further confusion", and corrected the spelling of "Valladares".

 

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