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Jun 19, 2012

Debate over goal-line tech reignited

DONETSK, Ukraine -- Goal-line controversy 1, extra official 0.

The ongoing debate on whether soccer needs technology for questionable decisions was given new impetus after Ukraine striker Marko Devic was denied what appeared to be a goal against England at the European Championship on Tuesday. His effort in the 62nd minute was hooked away by defender John Terry, although TV replays suggested the ball had crossed the line.

Even if a goal had been given, making the scoreline 1-1, that result at the end of the match would still have eliminated the co-host from Euro 2012. Instead, England advanced to the quarterfinals as winners of Group D after a 1-0 victory.

The man with probably the best view, UEFA's fifth official, was about 10 yards away but didn't award a goal.

"There are five referees on the pitch and the ball is 50 centimeters behind the goal line," Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said. "Why do we need five referees on the pitch? ... I don't want to talk about the referees, we lost the game. I don't want to put everything on the referees."

Ukraine captain Andriy Shevchenko, who was warming up at the sideline when it happened, said the incident influenced the game.

"The goal that wasn't given really changed our plan because if it was given, I think the whole game could have looked another way," said Shevchenko, who replaced Devic eight minutes later for his last competitive appearance for Ukraine.

Defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy added that "Marko Devic thought it was a goal ... I think the referee made lots of mistakes. It's a very bad result for us. We regret we weren't able to achieve a good result."

The incident revived the debate about the use of technology to decide whether a ball crosses the line, rather than to rely on the human eye of an assistant referee.

UEFA is using Euro 2012 to trial the five-official system promoted by its president Michel Platini as his preferred alternative to goal line technology.

Referees at the tournament are being helped by two linesmen and two additional assistants, who stay close to each goal to help decide if the ball crosses the line and to spot possible fouls.

FIFA will decide on July 5 whether to approve the five-official system and two goal-line technology systems currently being tested in England and Denmark.

England coach Roy Hodgson said he wasn't sure if it was a goal -- and that even technology would probably not have solved the issue this time.

"Terry did so well to hook the ball off the line," Hodgson said. "Even with technology you would not be completely sure. But if it was a goal, then that was a slice of luck."

England was on the other side of luck at the 2010 World Cup, when Frank Lampard had his goal against Germany denied despite the ball bouncing clearly behind the line after coming down from the crossbar.

England captain Steven Gerrard said that "To be successful you need a bit of luck. Two years ago, we were unlucky with Frank Lampard and we had to pack our bags."

England goalkeeper Joe Hart was less concerned about the echoes of the incident in South Africa.

"I don't care about the Frank Lampard one now," Hart said. "I'm just glad we won 1-0. The ref is there to make those decisions. He made the decision, 1-0."

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