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The Premier League calculates that the technology, if installed this season, could have proved useful in around 20 of some 320 matches played thus far. In many of those, the ball was either clearly over the line or clearly not, few were difficult calls, and officials mostly got them right. Perhaps the most glaring error was referee Mike Jones not awarding a goal when Victor Anichebe’s header for Everton crossed Newcastle’s goal-line in September.

GoalControl costs $260,000-$330,000 per stadium to install. There are also small running costs of $3,900-$5,200 per match. Hawk-Eye and the Premier League won’t say how much their system will cost for the English clubs who’ll need the cameras perhaps just once per season. But with the money going on goal-line technology in England and at 12 World Cup stadiums in Brazil , you could have rebuilt the bombed-out soccer stadium in Gaza, laid the first turf pitch in Bangladesh and paid for the first artificial grass field in Greenland and still have come out with perhaps a couple of million dollars in change.

And the goal-line is just a first frontier for machines. With cameras watching the goal area, technophiles will more readily be able to argue that they should also be used to expose off-sides and fouls that referees miss. GoalControl managing director Dirk Broichhausen said they are already developing software to automatically spot handball. “Not tomorrow, but in the future years it will be possible,” he said.

Sounds scary, suspiciously like the start of technological creep into soccer if the game’s guardians aren’t vigilant. Although soccer also is big business, it is first and foremost a game. Keep it simple and human, warts and all.

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John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester