The ever returning debate about goal line technology

The 2013/14 season has certainly provided fans and pundits alike with a lot to talk about. Bayern were breaking every single record there ever was seemingly, whilst HSV and Nürnberg shocked the fans by playing underwhelming seasons. From a sporting perspective there has certainly been a lot of excitement, despite Bayern’s huge lead in the table. However, as is the case every season a number of refereeing decision have been under scrutiny, and often times the debate over technical equipment that could help the referees in their decision making has blossomed as a result of that.

Cup final horror

The latest one came during the cup final last Saturday, when Mats Hummels header had clearly crossed the line, but ref Florian Meyer and his assistants decided to let play go on. Supporters of goal line technology have in the aftermath bemoaned the fact that BVB possibly were snubbed for a title win, whilst those in favour of video technology have gone on to say that Hummels’s goal wouldn’t have been given if video technology would have been used, due to his offside decision.

The fact of the matter remains that Florian Meyer and his assistant had to take two split second decisions within a couple of seconds. Linesmen have been asked to keep their flag down when in doubt, which means that the decision by the linesman is understandable given the narrow margins in this particular case. However, most football fans agree upon the fact that the linesman should have spotted the ball having crossed the line.

Bayern launch a new effort to introduce goal line technology

The DFL has already voted once on this issue. Back in March 9 Bundesliga clubs voted for the introduction of the technology, whilst the other half of the league was against it. The support amongst the clubs in the Bundesliga was even lower, only three of the 18 clubs in Germany’s second highest tier were in favour of easing the referees burden.

It hasn’t been a secret that many referees are in favour of the technology. Already back in 2012 Bundesliga ref Peter Gagelmann said:

Yes, we’ve said in the past that it would be superb if certain decisions weren’t up to us. There is for instance the decision of deciding if a ball had fully crossed the line, which often times is impossible to tell. Sometimes you can’t recognise if it did.

Gagelmann and his colleagues may have been dismayed by the decision taken two months ago, however, the debate over goal line technology isn’t dead after the recent events in Berlin. Funnily enough it is Bayern, who arguably profited from the technology not being in use,  forcing the issue once again. This time around Bayern’s proposal would only involve the clubs in the Bundesliga. The clubs voted against the concept the last time around were mainly concerned about the costs of the new technology. Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told kicker why he still is in favour of introducing the concept:

…because, we need to protect football and the referees in a better fashion. It’s unbearable to see the degree of public criticism referees have to face, simply because they can’t rely on reruns, slow motions or mathematically calculated equations. This could and should be averted in the future.

A season full of blunders

In addition to the cup final there have been a few other situations in the Bundesliga which have shown that goal line technology could be of great help to referees. The debate started earlier on match day 1, when Kevin Volland’s shot in the match against Nürnberg hit the bar went from the crossbar into the goal and bounced back out again. If the goal would have been given Hoffenheim would have gone into the dressing room with a 2-0 lead, however, Nürnberg managed to compile a comeback in the second half and went on to securing a 2-2 draw.

The TV pictures clearly showed that Kevin Volland was denied a goal by human error.
The TV pictures clearly showed that Kevin Volland was denied a goal by human error.

Referee Thorsten Kinhöfer said after the match:

Whenever human beings are making decisions there are going to be errors. The referees would be overjoyed if that element was taken of our hands, but that isn’t the case. That leaves us to our own devices when taking those decisions, and this decision was unfortunately wrong.

His colleague Dr. Felix Brych made even a bigger blunder when he didn’t spot a header by Stefan Kiessling going through the side netting and into the goal on match day 9 in the match between Hoffenheim and Leverkusen. At that point Brych had denied Hoffenheim a goal which should have been given, and due to his sight of the action being blocked by Eugene Polanski and a hole in the side netting the phantom goal was created.

Only three match days later ref Christian Dingert didn’t spot a shot from Josip Drmic having crossed the line after bouncing down from the cross bar.

Nürnberg were denied a goal against Gladbach on match day 12.
Nürnberg were denied a goal against Gladbach on match day 12.


The fact of the matter is that these occurrences can impact a team’s fate. If Leverkusen wouldn’t have been given that goal Wolfsburg may have managed to secure that fourth spot finish and the last Champions League spot. However, it should be mentioned that the Wolves should have conceded the first goal of the match against Stuttgart on match day 16, but ref Aytekin failed to spot Werner’s goal(the game ended in a 3-1 win for Wolfsburg). After the match Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking came out as an opponent of goal line technology, stating that part of the appeal of football were close calls and controversy and that goal line technology would take away from that.

Hoffenheim could go as far as arguing that the lack of technology could have cost them 4-6 points, whilst Borussia Dortmund could bemoan the loss of the DFB Pokal for the same reason. The Premier League is currently using goal line technology and the same luxury is going to be afforded to the officials during the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. At this point it seems like a question of time before the technology is going to be introduced in Germany as well.

What do you think? Should goal line technology be introduced in the Bundesliga? Leave a comment below!

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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