Would Lie Detectors work in football?

Football match

Lance Armstrong’s lawyer says polygraph testing could end drugs and doping in sport. Could they work in football?

A polygraph test is a lie detector, if you don’t tell the truth then that little needle on the machine will start going insane and is commonly accepted as the best way to tell if an individual is being deceitful.

The tests measure and record levels of stress when someone is being asked questions and the testing has a universal accuracy rate of between 81% and 91%.

It’s being considered in the world of professional cycling and there are many reasons it could also work in the world of professional football. It would help in a variety of situations and enhance the speed of which simple matters are rectified and dealt with.

So a list of where it could be used in football; internally by clubs to question players, to quiz individuals over what may or may not have been said during a game, to question fans in trouble for football related reasons, to question players over drugs, to question individuals over transfers and agent’s fees.

The list goes on and on so there’s no doubt that it would be a positive move on the surface.

However, there will be a natural negative reaction if this sort of thing was ever brought into the game with invasion of privacy being the most prominent. Lie detectors are commonly only used in a legal environment which would make it laughable if a club was using them to try and find out if a player had broken a curfew because he’s still hungover.

There is also the issue that polygraphs are not widely accepted as admissible in disciplinary hearings across a range of different sports and there are currently only two sports where these sorts of test are used on individuals; deep sea fishing and natural body building.

Therefore, the practicality of being able to legally and fairly introduce them into football is very difficult. Especially when football is still locked in a battle with its controlling powers to introduce video technology to match officials long after many other sports have moved on in that particular area.

The only instance where this sort of testing has already been introduced into football is in Singapore. The Singapore FA introduced random polygraph tests in 2001 as a way to combat match fixing. They have suggested players should be subjected to random tests in the same way they are given random fitness and drugs tests.

Is it a good idea? Yes. Is it easy to implement? No. What do you think?

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch