CARDIFF U. (US)—New technology in sporting contests like the World Cup should be used sparingly to increase the fairness of decisions, according to a new study.

Some sports decision aids can be less accurate than they appear, leading to false transparency, says Harry Collins, professor in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.

Details of his research on the impact of technology on sports umpiring and refereeing will appear in an upcoming issue of The Journal of the Philosophy of Sport.

“It’s especially important to disentangle the question of exactness and the question of justice,” Collins says. “Increasingly, vocal calls for the introduction of ‘goal-line technology’ often confuse the two.

“To get rid of transparent injustice all that is necessary is to give referees direct or indirect access to the television replays that the viewer sees and allow them to use these in their decision-making so as to avoid obvious mistakes,” he says.

“There is no need to try to find technology that will define the ‘exact’ position of the ball.”

Technology should be used to avoid errors which are obvious to all, Collins argues, but the referee’s judgment must remain paramount.

“In rare cases television replays will not be able to determine whether the whole of the ball crossed the line or not—advanced technology could resolve some but not all of such cases but there is no need for it.

“In such cases, referees, using TV replays, can be seen to be doing their best, especially if backed up with a ‘benefit of the doubt’ rule such as, ‘if in irresolvable doubt, it is a goal’.”

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