A Simple Solution to the Goal-Line Problem

Let’s not rush to use goal-line technology; practical, common-sense solutions are available
by Jeff Maurer   |   Friday, June 22, 2012

Euro 2012 Goal-line Controversy at England-Ukraine Quarterfinal

The unthinkable has happened yet again: there is a goal-line controversy at a major tournament. This time, it happened right under the nose of the newly-installed fifth official, a man who draws breath on this planet for the sole purpose of making this specific call.

This is embarrassing for FIFA, who instituted the fifth official in response to those who were pushing for goal line technology. And already the goal line technology advocates are making noise, clamoring for FIFA to use the technology that tennis has been using since the days when having a phone that was ALSO A CAMERA (!) was cutting edge technology.

But do we really need goal line technology? Isn’t there a solution to the problem that doesn’t require lasers and laptops and what nots? Frankly, I think the solution to the goal-line problem is obvious: we need a sixth official.

Look: goal-line incidents happen in the blink of an eye. No one man or woman can be expected to accurately make that call. But TWO men or women…that’s foolproof. The sixth official would be positioned on the opposite side of the goal to the fifth official, thus ensuring that one of them will have the perfect angle to see whether John Terry got his allegedly-racist foot around the ball before it crossed the line. Sure, it’s conceivable that the two referees might disagree, but there’s an easy solution to that problem: the seventh official.

The main responsibility of the seventh official is to break ties. The secondary responsibility of the seventh official is to bring snacks and caffeinated beverages to the fifth and sixth officials, because it is going to get boring as snot waiting for 90 minutes to make one specific call that probably won’t happen.

“But what happens,” you say, “if the incident occurs while the seventh official is off getting snacks?” Good question, to which there is an easy answer: the eighth official.

The eighth official is the task-master of the group. “Look sharp!” he or she (but probably he) frequently barks in order to keep officials five through seven from nodding off. He smells the other officials’ breath for alcohol before each match. He checks to see that their uniforms are neat and tidy. He wants hands where he can see them because he does not tolerate any intra-official hanky-panky. Do not even THINK of chewing gum around the eighth official. The eighth official is also the tie-breaking vote in the event that the seventh official is unable to perform his duties, and he frequently fantasizes about using this power.

“It’s all down to the eighth official now!” he whisper-shouts into the mirror as he brushes his teeth. “That is just WORLD CLASS eighth-officiating. Epic,” he says in the voice of Steve McManaman. He is a sad little man.

The ninth official – sometimes called the “Daredevil Official” – is both deaf and blind, and is present to use his heightened senses in the event that vision should prove inadequate. “That ball smelled over the line!” he might yell in the event that a goal-line incident occurs milliseconds after a city-wide blackout. Of course, having only one Daredevil Official would present the same problems as having only one goal line official, so the tenth official is a second Daredevil Official positioned on the opposite side of the goal, and the eleventh official is present to break a tie between the first two Daredevil Officials.

The twelfth official is kept in a secure location off-site so that there will still be a functioning officiating crew should a catastrophic event wipe out all the other officials. It’s like how they keep the Secretary of Agriculture off-site during the State of the Union address.

The thirteenth official is only there because the union negotiated that job in their most recent contract. Unlike all the other officials, he is useless.

The fourteenth official is the sassy gay friend, because every group needs one of those. He is in charge making sangria for the other officials and getting the party started on the dance floor, should the need arise.

The fifteenth official is ostensibly there “to attend to matters not under the direct purview of the match official and to facilitate communication between members of the officiating crew”, but in reality he’s the guy who sneaks a peak at the TV replay whenever there’s an off-the-ball incident and tells the ref what happened.

The sixteenth official is the winner of Cheeto’s “Cheesin’ it up at the World Cup” contest.

I disagree with Michel Platini’s suggestion that a seventeenth official is necessary; that, in my opinion, would be ridiculous overkill. But I think a lean and capable sixteen-person officiating crew renders goal-line technology unnecessary. Mr. Baltter: please, take my advice. Don’t rush in to adopting goal-line technology. Give the sixteen-person crew a chance, and if there are still missed calls, then at that point consider forming a committee to investigate the feasibility of creating a panel to study the impact of using goal-line technology.


Georgetown Univ.
Club Domestic:
DC United
Club Foreign:
A comedian and avid fan who blogs about DC United for The Washington Post. He was a semifinalist on season 7 of Last Comic Standing and performs nationwide. A decent passer with a good strike from distance, but is glacially slow and has no left foot.