Barcelona dropped more points in a 1-1 draw at Real Betis Sunday afternoon, in a match that will go down as the moment the goal-line technology debate got serious in Spain. Barcelona, without Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, was second-best for much of the contest, and it fell behind when Alex Alegria finally headed home past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
That kicked the visitor into action and minutes later came the controversial incident. Aleix Vidal crossed from the right, and Neymar was the target in the box but went down claiming a penalty. The ball cannoned off a defender and headed towards the goal, where Aissa Mandi cleared it away–with the ball, that most angles showed, well behind the goal line. The goal was not given, but Barcelona picked up its point when Luis Suarez converted in the last minute.
“We deserved to score sooner," Suarez said after the game. "The ball was clearly a meter over the line. The referees are trying to do their work and so must we.”
Luis Enrique added: “Technology can help, I've already said that. It's clear that the referees need help.”
Neymar was more succinct, posting a picture of the ball over the line on his Instagram account with the message "HAHAHAHAHAHA."
A Marca poll showed over 90% of fans wanting goal-line technology introduced in Spain. Its introduction in Germany and England has been well-received; only last week, in the EFL Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Southampton, GLT deemed that a goal had not crossed the line after Fraser Forster scrambled it away in the nick of time. There was no controversy, no drama–just the correct decision.
The debate will still continue as to whether technology should influence other areas of the game, like offside or penalty decisions, but for now the GLT system is working well. AS reported that Spain’s referees’ committee is in talks to have a system on trial next season, but the Spanish league’s preferred GLT system has not been approved by FIFA (those in Germany and England have been). This incident will expedite the push for change.