Soccer's stubborn governing bodies will come under increased pressure to finally introduce goal-line technology after co-host Ukraine suffered what appeared to be a severe injustice against England on Tuesday and was eliminated from Euro 2012.
Replays showed that Marko Devic's 62nd-minute effort crept over the line before being hooked clear on the final night of action in Group D. However, despite extra officials being stationed behind the goals for this tournament, the wrong call was made and England went on to a 1-0 win at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.
The appropriate technology needed to adjudicate disputed decisions has been available for nearly a decade, but has been stubbornly resisted by soccer's hierarchy. Even now, two companies have devised failsafe measures that still require ratification to be accepted by the authorities.
Instead, the likes of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini prefer to leave huge decisions that affect the sporting hopes of nations at the shaky mercy of human error rather than using missile-grade precision sensors or a magnetic field with perfect accuracy.
Ukraine needed to beat England to clinch a place in the quarterfinals, and once Devic's apparent goal was disallowed, it had little left to give. "It destroyed us," said coach Oleg Blokhin. "It is wrong."
Ukraine put up a respectable performance at the tournament, highlighted by an impressive victory over Sweden in its opening match, and deserved better than to go out this way.
It was almost as frustrating for the neutral observer, with this decision following a series of refereeing mistakes at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, one of which affected England: Frank Lampard's strike against Germany in the round of 16 clearly crossed the line but did not count.
"You need a bit of luck on the way, you don't do well without that," said captain Steven Gerrard. "Let's hope we get a bit more."
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FIFA will decide later this year whether to accept two new systems, just one – or neither. One, the HawkEye program used in professional tennis and international cricket, uses the same technology developed to assist brain surgeons and to track missile flight patterns.
The other, owned by Danish innovator GoalRef, uses a sensory microchip to determine whether a ball has crossed the goal line.
England can have no complaints about the current system remaining in force for now. Victory, combined with France's shocking 2-0 loss to Sweden, meant that England topped Group D and will face Italy rather than Spain in the last eight.
"The main thing was to get through the group," said Rooney. "Who we play now doesn't matter. I haven't been in a major tournament for a while (since 2004) and I thought the whole team was fantastic."
However, the biggest talking point will remain the phantom goal, and Ukraine, which waited so long to host this tournament and believed it could progress to the knockout phase, will find little solace.
Devic's strike was partially blocked by Joe Hart, but cannoned into the air and continued goalward. John Terry sprinted backward to hack it clear, but only after the ball had sneaked over the line.
It all happened in a split second, too quick, as it turned out, for human eyes to spot.
That is why soccer needs to embrace modern technology, before any more travesties of justice take place. It matters not that the overall result may not have been affected.
The reality that even one legitimate goal at a major tournament should be mistakenly denied should be enough to convince the sport's powerbrokers to take long overdue action.
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