COMMENTARY | Major League Soccer has decided that goalline technology just isn't worth it right now; literally.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that MLS will not be utilizing goalline technology for league matches anytime soon. While speaking with AP reporters about the matter, MLS Commissioner Don Garber blamed the price of the technology for the league's decision. According to the AP report, GoalControl, which will be used at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, would cost around $260,000 per arena to install. There would also be operation fees of $3,900 per match.
Garber was quoted as having stated the following on the subject: "(Price) had us take a step back and pause and try to figure out is the value of having goalline technology worth investing millions and millions and millions of dollars for the handful of moments where it's relevant? And our view has been that we're going to wait and see how it works out. We certainly don't need to be the first league that has it."
That wouldn't have been the case regardless of Thursday's news. The English Premier League announced earlier this year that Hawk-Eye, which is currently utilized during major tennis tournaments such as the US Open, will be the league's goalline technology system starting next season. If those running MLS were to revisit the issue and change their minds, the soonest any such system would come to the league would be March 2015.
My immediate reaction upon learning of Garber's comments was that they reflected poorly on MLS. The millions of dollars that would be required to install and use goalline technology is hardly a crazy amount of money for a league that got a major national television deal less than two years ago. In this day and age, with the technology that is available, there should never be a question about whether or not a team has scored a goal. Those decisions have to be right 100 percent of the time.
With that said, these situations are so rare that MLS spending millions of dollars on any of the proposed systems does seem unnecessary. Of the hundreds and hundreds of league games that will be played in 2013, only a handful will have incidents involving a question about the ball completely crossing a goalline. For example, the New York Red Bulls have thus far had to deal with this issue just once in nine league games this season. That has them on pace for somewhere around 3.5 total goalline incidents before the end of the campaign.
That doesn't mean that MLS can or should ignore the issue entirely. As others before me have done, I propose that the league place an additional referee on both goallines for all league matches. This takes care of the matter at a fraction of the cost of systems such as Hawk-Eye and GoalControl. Those refs could also assist on controversial matters that occur inside the box, such as penalty and hand-ball shouts.
The top-flight US domestic league is known for having referees who are, to put it nicely, often "sub-par." Having an extra set of eyes viewing some of the more important moments of a game would, in theory, be a plus for all involved. It could also be a disaster, of course, if MLS were to put the wrong refs on goallines.
After having several discussions with knowledgeable individuals about this matter, I'm left with the feeling that it's more a matter of "when" than "if" regarding goalline technology coming to MLS. I can live with that. For now, Mr. Garber has more serious things to worry about; such as there being too much soccer on American television.
That, however, is a different topic for a different piece.
Zac has been covering New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer, Tottenham Hotspur, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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