The truth is that if Alejandro José Hernández Hernández or his linesman had given Betis defender Cristiano Piccini’s own goal in favour of Barcelona it would have saved everyone a problem. And it didn’t look that difficult. Hernández gestured as if to whistle for the goal but he was halted by the hieratical stance of his assistant, who wasn’t running from the middle of the pitch. Why did the linesman not see it? Possibly his view was obscured by Aïssa Mandi, who scooped the ball off the line. All things considered it is hard to digest the double error. Mandi’s clearance hit the bar and bounced out on to the pitch, a trajectory that suggested the ball had been hit from behind the goal line. Watching it live, I thought it had gone in, as did many others, above all because of the angle of the ball.
But it did not stand and that has opened the debate. This is a fresh argument for the technophiles who support video assistant refereeing. I have my doubts about the matter. In fact, I don’t trust it. And the gaffe at the Club World Cup has done little to alter my own stance. It also brings to mind another incident from Sunday’s games, the penalty and sending off of Nicolás Pareja for Sevilla against Espanyol, which proved equally decisive. I have not seen a great deal of agreement surrounding that decision. I don’t know if we would now be discussing the failure of video refereeing in that moment or not, one way or the other. But if it has to be accepted – and I can see the matter heading in that direction – goal line technology wouldn’t be a bad place to start. It would have spared us the controversy in the Benito Villamarín.
In football people talk about the “big five” – the most powerful leagues in Europe. Only La Liga does not already employ this technology. Some people view it as an unnecessary expense for an issue that only arises every so often. For others, it is a quick and simple system to eradicate incidents that although rare are divisive and, when one of the glamour sides is on the receiving end of a bad decision, provokes a storm. This case has been made all the worse because it happened to a Barça side already rowing against the current and who scored after the disallowed goal, meaning that Real Madrid did not benefit from it by one point, but two. I believe that in itself will be enough for goal line technology to be introduced. And everything that follows as a result of that I find extremely worrying.