Goalline tech firm says sorry after failure to spot goal

Sheffield United denied goal as Villa goalkeeper Nyland carried ball over own line

The operators of the goalline technology system used in the English Premier League apologised for an embarrassing failure, after Sheffield United were denied a clear goal in their 0-0 draw with Aston Villa yesterday morning (Singapore time).

In the the EPL's first match after a 100-day hiatus due to the Covid-19 crisis, Sheffield United were denied when Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carried the ball back over his own line in a clumsy defensive mix-up just before half-time.

"I don't know whether to laugh or cry," Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder said after the closed-door game at Villa Park.

"The feeling at the time by everybody, both sets of players and staff, was that of a goal."

The off-balanced Villa goalkeeper Nyland caught a curling free-kick but was bundled back over the line by teammate Keinan Davis.

Referee Michael Oliver, pointing to his watch, looked to indicate that goalline technology had not verified the ball had crossed the line, despite what appeared to be clear evidence on TV replays.

Hawk-Eye, which operates the goalline system, issued a statement after the game saying the seven cameras in the stands around the goal area were obstructed by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost.

"This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation," the company said, while fans furiously vented on social media about the technological slip-up.

There was also no intervention from the video assistant referee (VAR) despite TV viewers being able to see the ball had clearly crossed the line.

"Under the IFAB protocol, the VAR is able to check goal situations. However due to the fact that the on-field match officials did not receive a signal, and the unique nature of that, the VAR did not intervene," the PGMO, body responsible for match officials in English professional football, said in a separate explanation.

Wilder added: "The referee said it had the feel of a goal but he has to rely on Hawk-Eye. We believe it should have been referred and asked for it."

Ex-EPL referee Mark Clattenburg said VAR should have intervened to correct an obvious error.

"Officials need to stop acting like robots and take ownership because a human being has to make the final decision, although I attach no blame to referee Michael Oliver in this instance," he told the Daily Mail. - REUTERS