For years, FIFA - with then-President Sepp Blatter leading the organisation - resisted the use of technology. The tipping point came during the 2010 World Cup when Frank Lampard's shot against Germany clearly crossed the line but was not given as a goal.
As much as technology in football is about getting more decisions right and ensuring the game is fair for everybody, it is also about preventing PR disasters and damaging the sport's global image. While previous instances of players cheating and getting away with it such as Diego Maradona's handled goal against England in 1986 were viewed as part and parcel of the game, attitudes have changed. As other sports adopted technology to eliminate such bad practices and assist their officials, football lagged behind. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini continued to claim, as late as 2012 in the latter's case, that technology was unnecessary. However, the evidence had built up to the point where their position was unsustainable. The 2010 World Cup was one where bad refereeing decisions marred the tournament, with the potential to hurt the game's image and damage FIFA's reputation. Something had to change and that tournament was the catalyst for trials of the systems that are becoming more widespread and working well in today's matches.
There remain those that view technology as an unwelcome addition to the game. For many years, the likes of Blatter and Platini led those calls with the latter believing more referees on the field would be an adequate solution. For traditionalists, technology breaks the links between football of the present and football in the past. They would claim that why should football move with the times when millions still go and watch their team and their country play? With Blatter and Platini moved aside, new blood at the top of FIFA made changes inevitable. Infantino is a keen advocate of technology and immediately pushed for the introduction of VAR. He would have brought technology in regardless.
FIFA strongly resisted calls to introduce technology into football. At the same time, other sports marched ahead by implementing technology. Following the 2010 World Cup, when Lampard's shot stood out as one of number of blatant examples of exactly why the game needed technology, FIFA changed its tune. No longer could it ignore the clamour for technology and by 2013, goalline technology was in place. VAR followed and was introduced in 2017.
Rejecting the premises
FIFA was slow to move with the times and bring technology into football but much of the change came about because younger men took over from the likes of Sepp Blatter. Blatter resisted technology for as long as he possibly could. However, since he left his post in 2015, his successor Gianni Infantino has pushed through changes at a much quicker rate. Had FIFA been led by less conservative figures when the calls for technology first came, they would have moved quicker. The sport had to wait for the old guard to move on.